The Midtown Global Market located in the historic Sears Building in Midtown Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

Taste the flavors of the Cultural Districts in Minneapolis

A guide to dining in the city’s distinct districts that you don’t know yet, but definitely should.

3 mins read

Minneapolis’ designated Cultural Districts each have things to do, see and visit, but perhaps the best way to get to know the districts is via the restaurants, coffee shops and markets owned by residents who share their unique cultural perspectives through the food and beverages they make, providing a tasty way to explore more of the city.

Following are introductions to the areas and some dining recommendations made by local contributors who know the districts best, giving visitors a way to explore more of Minneapolis’ diversity of cultures, businesses and people.

38th Street

Centered on George Floyd Square, this district has been important to the city’s Black history since the 1930s, with many area businesses now BIPOC-owned.

  • Just Turkey is minority-owned with a mission of providing jobs and opportunities to underserved communities while serving perfectly seasoned Jerk Turkey Tips and Italian sandwiches.
  • Young Man is an Asian fusion restaurant highlighting Hawaiian and Balinese cuisine like Takoyaki (octopus dumplings) or Té Saté (chicken and homemade peanut sauce).
  • Petite León incorporates bold Latin flavors like mole and ajonjoli into French classics like duck confit and steak bavette, thanks to James Beard Best Chef: Midwest-nominated chef and owner Jorge Guzman.

Cedar Avenue South

Long known for welcoming immigrants to the city, this area is most commonly called Cedar-Riverside and boasts a progressive and diverse community surrounded by unique theater, concert and shopping spots near the University of Minnesota and Augsburg University campuses.

  • Hard Times Café is worker-owned and vegan since 1992, serving classic breakfast items, small plates and sandwiches while supporting local vendors.
  • Palmer’s Bar is a Black-owned bar and an institution in the district since 1906 where everyone is welcome, the brews flow and a full concert calendar will keep you busy nightly, along with its next-door neighbor, the Cedar Cultural Center.

Central Avenue

A part of Northeast Minneapolis, Central Avenue was built by working-class European immigrants who came for the railroad and warehouse jobs. It experienced a revival in the late 1990s that continues today with restaurants and shops ranging from Mexican to Ethiopian, Indian to Ecuadorian and Thai to a 1949 diner.

  • El Taco Riendo, a beacon of Central Avenue, was recently rebuilt after a fire in 2020. “The Laughing Taco” brings the flavors of Mexico to Minneapolis.
  • Little India International Market carries Indian ingredients, sure, but it also takes you to Mexico, the Middle East and beyond with spices, breads, rice, beans, candies and more.

East Lake Street

East Lake Street is where industrious immigrants looking for cost-effective spaces created the current enclave of small businesses predominantly owned by Latine and East African immigrants. These businesses surround a former Sears store that became the Midtown Global Market more than a dozen years ago.

  • Quruxlow, a Somali spot known for delicious spiced sambusas and large plates of rice covered with meats and stews.
  • Mercado Central is a thriving Latino marketplace of 35 businesses serving up food, fresh ingredients and artisan-made items from Valerie’s Carniceria, La Loma, Panaderia El Mexicano and many more.

Franklin Avenue East

This district stands upon land, like all of Minneapolis, where the original stewards were the Dakota people. Learning more about the Indigenous history of the area is an important part of exploring this district’s businesses and arts.

  • Gatherings Café is a place to try contemporary Indigenous foods over lunch inside the Minneapolis American Indian Center. 
  • Pow Wow Grounds Coffee has been caffeinating and feeding the American Indian community in Minneapolis since 2010. Delivery and take-out only, it’s a good spot to stop as you explore the district’s Ancient Traders Market and All My Relations Gallery.

Lowry Avenue North

Northside pride runs strong in the Lowry Avenue North district, which has been a welcoming spot for Black Minneapolitans for decades. Lowry Ave is in the residential Camden neighborhood. Just north of this cultural district, entrepreneur Houston White, who opened The Get Down Coffee Co. here in late 2021 with plans to expand and grow his businesses—and the neighborhood.

  • Breaking Bread Café celebrates the culinary legacy of Black Americans with made-from-scratch Soul Food classics to Creole and West African flavors for breakfast and lunch.
  • Lowry Café offers homestyle cooking that is organic, local and sustainable with a menu of traditional American fare with a bit of Southern flavor and flair.
The West Broadway Farmers Market. Photo courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

West Broadway

Northside pride cannot be contained to one district alone, and West Broadway extends it from the Capri Theater, best known as the stage that first gave the world Prince Rogers Nelson, to the skatepark outside of Juxtaposition Arts, a nonprofit, teen-staffed art and design center, gallery, retail shop and artists’ studio space.

  • West Broadway Farmer’s Market happens Fridays from mid-June to mid-October outside the Capri with vendors like Flava Café, Shake Down Rubs and Honey’s Soul Food & Bakery. 
  • Sammy’s Avenue Eatery is a place for community, conversation and good eats including breakfast, sandwiches and desserts from owner Sammy McDowell.

Minneapolis’ Cultural Districts were identified by the City of Minneapolis to highlight the rich sense of cultural and/or linguistic identity rooted in communities significantly populate by people of color, Indigenous people and/or immigrants. They were designated by the city’s 2040 Plan to prevent displacement of residents in gentrifying areas while supporting the unique cultural history of the neighborhoods in these areas. Tourism to these districts is encouraged. An annual calendar of events provide seasonal opportunities to explore these areas further.

For more about what’s new, what to do and planning a trip just for you, visit Meet Minneapolis.

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