Minneapolis is known for its stellar restaurant scene, and Black-owned restaurants contribute to this reputation in a major way. From bakeries to African cuisine and vegan eats to juice bars, there are countless options to satisfy all tastes and cravings. Plus, each establishment has a backstory that’s just as interesting as the flavorful dishes or drinks on their menu.
In 2016, Louis Hunter, the owner of Trio Plant-Based, attended a protest after his cousin Philando Castile was killed in a police-involved incident. Falsely accused of throwing rocks at police officers, Hunter faced 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges. With the help of local allies, the charges were dropped. Soon after, Hunter started pop-ups to give back and serve his community healthy and tasty food. Each one sold out. The community raised over $50,000 for a permanent restaurant, which soon became one of Lake Street’s pride and joy: Trio Plant-Based, the Twin Cities’ first Black-owned vegan restaurant. Located on West Lake Street, its menu serves up soul food herbivores and omnivores can both enjoy. Try their Mac & Cheeze, collard greens, southern slaw and barbecue jackfruit ribs.
Pimento Jamaican Kitchen
If you’re a long-time fan of the Food Network, there’s a chance you’ve heard of Pimento Jamaican Kitchen. Tomme Beevas, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, started selling his food at pop-up locations across Minneapolis in 2012. Beevas’ dishes embrace family recipes and French cooking techniques, which gave him the fire to win Food Network’s Food Court Wars in 2013. His brick-and-mortar spot opened three years later on Eat Street (thanks to the prize money), and he’s since expanded to the Keg & Case Market in St. Paul. The authentic Jamaican street and comfort food also earned Pimento Jamaican Kitchen features on Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmerman’s Bucket List and Food Network’s I Heart Food. Beevas’ favorite thing on the menu? The oxtail (pictured below) – a fully-roasted, deliciously tender piece of meat served up with buttery beans, rice, fried plantains and island slaw.
Husband and wife team Chef Gerald and Brittney Alise Klass use soul food to bring people together and celebrate the community and culture of North Minneapolis. They do so with Soul Bowl – a self-proclaimed reimagination of “soul food for the urban millennial.” The Klass’ restaurant opened in 2019, and now aim to expand nationwide to become the first casual soul food restaurant enterprise in the US. Mpls.St.Paul Magazine raised an important question in its article, “Could Soul Bowl Be Minneapolis’ New Chipotle?” The answer? Most definitely. Soul Bowl is just what it sounds like: build your own bowl of soul! Choose a base (Mack & Cheese or yellow rice), your veggies (like yams or collard greens), protein (variety of meats and vegan options) and sides or order an already-built bowl.
Cobble Social House
It’s not quite a bar and not quite a restaurant, but regardless, Cobble Social House is a trendy and up-and-coming lounge in the North Loop neighborhood. It’s owned by brother and sister duo Joe and Veronica Clark. Fun fact, Veronica owns D.NOLO (Destination North Loop), the women’s clothing co-op next door. With a speakeasy on the first floor and 29 dining tables on the second, Cobble Social House is an intimate spot to go to with friends before or after your dinner reservations in the neighborhood. Yes, they serve small bites (a fusion of California and French cuisine), but they encourage venturing to the other numerous restaurants in the area for your main courses. Cobble Social House is easy to find – just look for golden eye.
Abdirahman Kahin, the CEO and founder of Afro Deli, is originally from Somalia and is not a trained chef or cook. He jokes that he hits his “sweet spot” when he does the dishes. But customer service, hospitality and creating a welcoming environment are his true talents. Kahin saw a need for Halal food in Minneapolis, which was lacking, and opened a restaurant that catered to Black and mainstream communities. And just like that (and with loads of hard work, of course), Afro Deli – a fast-casual African eatery – was born. It was important to Kahin that Afro Deli represent African culture, not just Somali culture, so multiple audiences could relate to it. With three locations across the city and one in St. Paul, Afro Deli has been a go-to for downtown workers, college students, locals and visitors for years. Ultimately, Afro Deli brings diverse groups together and introduces Minneapolitans to African culture through taste and smell.
The Dripping Root
Need your juice or smoothie fix? You’re in luck. The Dripping Root is Minnesota’s first and only Black-owned cold pressed juice bar. Step inside and it’ll feel like you’re in a smoothie itself – the interior is 100% color and positive vibes. Catiesha Pierson is to thank for the Dripping Root. She saw a lack of Black-owned restaurants in Minneapolis and the need to popularize health and wellness. It all started with dedication and her own at-home juice machine. Pierson built her business from the ground up while working a full-time job, being a single mom and personally making deliveries across town. Soon, she needed room to expand and chose an open storefront on Minnehaha Avenue. The COVID-19 pandemic hit not long after she signed her lease, but regardless, the Dripping Root came to fruition. Afterall, perfection takes time. The smoothie and juice bar is open Thursday-Sunday, 9 am-1 pm or until they sell out, which they often do!
Growing up, Chef Justin Sutherland spent his childhood in the kitchen learning recipes from his mother and grandmother. Now, he’s classically trained in French cuisine but infuses ingredients and techniques from his southern roots. Sutherland’s won multiple awards (2019 Charlie Awards for Outstanding Chef, and a two-time recipient of MSP Magazine’s Best New Restaurant) as well as Iron Chef America. He currently runs several award-winning restaurants, his first one being The Handsome Hog in St. Paul. Sutherland’s newest spot – Northern Soul – opened at Uptown Ties. Here, you’ll find southern style food with some classic “northern soul,” of course. It’s open for brunch, lunch and dinner with three different menus. Each one features southern staples, like shrimp hushpuppies, cornbread skillets, barbecue sandwiches, brisket sliders and poutine.
Official Fried Chicken
Fried chicken enthusiasts need to put Official Fried Chicken on their bucket list ASAP. Concept creators Jared Brewington and his teenage daughter see chicken as a food that brings people together. Official Fried Chicken serves up old school fried chicken – bone-in, skin-on and extra crispy. With only three flavors of fried chicken (original, barbecue and buffalo) and French fries on their menu, they mean business. They’re take-out only and embrace a modern guest experience. Order at a kiosk, then scan a barcode from your phone at the pick-up cabinet. It’s like a giant fried chicken vending machine, but everything is fried up right away behind the scenes. We recommend picking up your chicken then having a picnic at nearby Minnehaha Falls Park.
Meet Tamu, the only Kenyan restaurant in Minneapolis. This Cedar-Riverside restaurant is giving Minneapolis locals and visitors a taste of Kenya and East Africa through flavorful and colorful cooking. It’s owned by Fanaka Ndege, a Kenyan US-based rapper, content creator, and businessman, and his father Chef George “Jojo” Ndege, who heads the kitchen. Chef Jojo draws inspiration for his food from his cultural experiences growing up in Nairobi, Kenya. He experiments with spices, flavors and – most importantly – cooks from his heart. Tamu attracts people from many backgrounds. Most customers find themselves in Tamu because they were walking by and wanted to try something new. The Ndege family’s philosophy is that everyone should be able to enjoy Tamu’s meals. Their dishes are affordable, sensitive to dietary restrictions (no nuts, eggs or dairy) and delicious.
Get Down Coffee Co
Get Down Coffee Co is a pillar in the Minneapolis food and drink community. Houston White (the founder of the Houston White brand of lifestyle goods) collaborated with Dan Anderson of Dogwood Coffee Co to bring specialty coffee to Camdentown. Why? To diversify and increase accessibility of the specialty coffee scene. Get Down Coffee Co is inspired by hip-hop music – hip-hop broke sociocultural barriers and Houston and his team are doing the same. They roast their own beans in its sibling roastery, Dogwood Coffee Co, and are planning to build their own North Minneapolis roasting facility in the coming years. Their menu has creative drinks, like a sweet potato cream latte or a brown sugar banana cream latte, but also classics, like chai and matcha lattes or an array of teas.
Good news, you don’t have to travel too far south to get a good ole Southern-style peach cobbler. You can find one right in the Elliot Park neighborhood – a rarity! Lutunji Abram recently opened her bakery built on her signature dessert, the peach cobbler. Her secret? Using canned peaches! They’re incredibly juicy and cut easily with a fork while you’re chowing down. Vegans can also savor this delightful dessert, because Abram makes two versions: one with a buttery crust and one with a vegan crust. Even though her family grew up eating cobbler with lots of butter, they approve of the vegan option, too. Other than the peach cobbler or pecan pie with butter crusts, her entire menu is vegan. She also adds nutritive elements to her desserts. You could get red velvet cupcakes that get their coloring from organic beets, gluten-free coconut cake bites or even peanut butter cookies baked with Irish sea moss, a mineral-rich algae.
Owners Adam Kado and Hosie Thurmond brought Slice Pizza, the first Black-owned pizzeria in Minneapolis, to the Northeast Neighborhood in October 2021. On opening day, their small walk-up window had eager supporters in lines wrapped around the building. Two weeks later, a fire (the cause of which was suspected arson) damaged much of their restaurant. It was a devastating blow to the owners, but the community came together and raised nearly $25,000 for repairs. Slice Pizza reopened that November and later a second location in Midtown Global Market in July 2022. Their New York style mega slices of pizza are a Minneapolis favorite!
Chicago’s Very Own
When the Spencer family moved from Chicago to Minneapolis in 1997, they missed the tastes and flavors of the Windy City, so they decided to do something about it. They opened Chicago’s Very Own on the northwest corner of Lyndale and Lake Street. Chicago’s Very Own is modeled after classic Chicago sandwich shops and – believe it or not – Garrett’s, the infamous popcorn chain. Owner Richard Spencer recommends you try a chopped steak sandwich, which is a variation of Chicago’s version of a Philly cheese steak. Their Chicago hot dogs and chicken sandwiches are also delish. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, don’t worry, there are lots of options on the menu for you. On the other side of the restaurant are tubs of popcorn. You’ll find the classic cheese and caramel combo, but also more out-of-the-box flavors, like sour berry and banana pudding.
According to owner, Kamal Mohamed, Northeast’s STEPCHLD serves up “music you can eat.” At STEPCHLD you’ll find Ethiopian-inspired cuisine developed by the entire staff. There’s no “I” in Kamal’s STEPCHLD for a reason – dishes aren’t developed by one top chef. Instead, Kamal will think of a dish, bring it to the team and it’s collectively tweaked to perfection. Their menu features Ethiopian birria tacos, sweet potato fritters and double burgers, to name a few.
Wendy’s House of Soul
Wendy Puckett’s House of Soul in north Minneapolis gained national attention earlier this year when it was featured on the Cooking Channel’s Food Paradise. However, Minneapolis locals already knew that House of Soul is special. Known for her Soulrolls, gluten-free egg roll wraps fried golden and filled with delicious foods like greens, mac and cheese, taco fixings and more, Puckett puts her heart and soul into every meal.