There’s so much to love about Minneapolis including the awesome
hipster culinary scene. With so many different cultures inhabiting a single metro area it’s no wonder why new eateries pop up. All. The. Tahm. Like any competitive market, Minneapolis can be a tough place for restaurants to thrive. So when a place stands out for more than just food it’s definitely game changing. That in mind, here are my 5 Important Places To Dine In Minneapolis that have both good food and a certain je ne sais quoi. Discover the deliciousness Minneapolis has to offer and in the comments section below share what some of your favorite eat-good/feel-good restaurants are!
1. Namaste Café
The idea for this post came while I was inhaling their Deep Dish Lamb Curry with Twin the other day. The word Namaste means “I honor the divine in you” which defined my state of zen after savoring my last bite. The range of South Asian menu options entices with curry + spice being their trademark combination. Namaste Café offers vegan/vegetarian options that also reflect its regional style of cooking. This unassuming lil Uptown restaurant packs a punch even beyond the plate. Since the devastating April earthquake that rocked Nepal, Namaste Café has raised over $30k in funds towards relief. Likewise, their environmental reach hits home through local partnerships with sustainable growers and farmers. Once inside, take notice of the beautiful paintings hanging on the walls. Namaste Café features new artists every month as a nod to Minneapolis’ eclectic art scene. As a choosy customer its good to know that eco-friendliness and art appreciation come with every meal.
I’ve been known to
showout and act a fool rave over Caribbean-Southern-Mexican food so if forced to vote, Brasa would be my favorite restaurant on the list. I mean who can resist fried plantain, gumbo friend rice, slow roasted meats, and brown sugar candied yams? Not this real O.G. What elevates Brasa above other restaurants with similar fare is its ‘green footprint’ approach to business. Brasa uses only natural meats (and meat byproducts), organic & fair trade ingredients (including coffees and teas) and locally sourced products. A wide variety of vegan/vegetarian dishes are available although a dietary preference is not required to fix a plate and #getyourlife! Pro tip: bring friends along so you can swindle share family style portions and admire the beautiful N.E. Minneapolis architecture.
If you’ve ever imagined a food utopia then it probably looked something like French Meadow. Walking into the Minneapolis location for the first time, you’ll notice a gigantic board with every type of deli item known to species written on it. You’ll be intimidated but a survey of the menu will quickly reveal that choice is but an oasis. For 30 years (and as the first certified organic bakery in the United States) French Meadow has offered fair trade, organic, local, natural, vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free, and eco-friendly food. That’s a mouthful as big as their North Star Bison Burger. But there’s something superior to be said about a restaurant that purveyed “granola” waaaaay before it was even cool (then uncool and then cool once more). Luckily French Meadow has plenty-plenty locations including inside some major airports to nourish the hippie within you or simply enjoy the people watching.
(Photo cred: John Whiting)
(Photo cred: Minneapolis Hot Spots)
I mean the picture says it all. But if you still need a reason to visit my favorite live music spot then I’m happy to oblige. The Dakota is a must-do when running through Downtown with visiting friends and family #mywoes. I absolutely love the classy ambiance and premium entertainment this venue attracts. And for the last 30 years the Dakota has been the foremost proponent of Jazz music culture in the Twin Cities (and likely beyond). Engaging youth is a vital component towards its mission to preserve and cultivate an early appreciation for Jazz in the community. Culinary speaking, the Dakota has an excellent wine selection, food that never disappoints, and music so good you can taste it. Stop in during one of their ‘Foodie Nights’ or catch a weekend live show. Either way you’re bound to rub shoulders with the best music enthusiasts (even Prince is a regular) the world has to offer.
5. Hola Arepa
(Photo cred: Hola Arepa)
Minnesota’s burgeoning food truck scene has crowned its darling. Not only does Hola Arepa have a great Cinderella story, but this Venezuelan food truck-turned-full-blown-restaurant grew a cult-like following through smart use of branding and social media. The menu is expanding yet still structured around one fundamental item, the arepa. Arepas are griddled corn patties filled with assortments of meat, veggies, cheese, and topped with a house salsa. All ingredients are gluten free, made from scratch and have vegetarian/vegan alternatives. Hola Arepa’s story of amateur beginnings is one to marvel because it endorses the romantic American ethos of hard work + buoyancy. In this town fast ascents aren’t uncommon, but long-term success is ever elusive. If we’re still talking about Hola Arepa in 5 years it’ll be a partial testament to its resilient brand reputation and social media presence; both clear adaptations of its food truck beginnings. I love this new restaurant because of the familial #feels it gives me. Its like eating home-cooked food among kin…. except the meals are beautifully complex and the kin are industry rockstars. Still, I flutter at the idea of two regular people with no equivalent restaurant background bravely scaling entrepreneurship. It’s the quintessential underdog story. And who wouldn’t root for a happy ending?