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10 Best Black-Owned Restaurants (Right Now) in the Twin Cities
Excellent Eats in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota
Story by Stacy Brooks
Black-owned restaurants are a critical component of the vibrant culinary scene in Minnesota’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. No surprise since the area is home to some of the nation’s largest Ethiopian and Somali diaspora communities and even boasts an Iron Chef America winner. From fine dining to fast casual, vegan soul food to pizza, donuts to injera, consider this list your starting point. But remember, it’s just a sampling: While this round-up includes many favorite spots, there are dozens more Black-owned restaurants in the area that are certainly worth checking out.
Founded by Abdirahman Kahin, Afro Deli is a fast-casual halal restaurant with a fusion menu inspired by African, Mediterranean, and American cuisines. You can enjoy dishes including lamb gyros, a Somali steak sandwich, and a cheeseburger. There are plenty of vegetarian options, too, like veggie sambusa (an East African deep-fried stuffed pastry) and a falafel sandwich. Many items are gluten-free. Afro Deli has locations in Minneapolis’ Stadium Village neighborhood, downtown St. Paul, and the Minneapolis and St. Paul Skyways.
Photo Credit: Afro Deli
Bolé Ethiopian Cuisine
At Bolé Ethiopian Cuisine, co-owners Solomon Haile and Rekik Abaineh serve richly spiced stews and other Ethiopian specialties in St. Paul’s Como neighborhood. The encyclopedic menu includes beef, lamb, chicken, fish, and vegetable dishes for diners to scoop up with pieces of injera (a sourdough flatbread). Order one of the combination platters so that you can try a variety of dishes; there are both meat-based and vegetarian samplers.
Photo Credit: Bole Ethiopian Cuisine
Chef Justin Sutherland—winner of Iron Chef America and a competitor on Top Chef—owns and operates Handsome Hog, which combines his Southern roots and classical culinary training. Located in St. Paul’s historic Cathedral Hill neighborhood, the restaurant serves contemporary Southern cuisine such as eggs benedict with Cajun hollandaise and mussels with a bacon bone broth. Many ingredients are made in-house, including the andouille sausage and smoked ham.
La Boulangerie Marguerite
Tucked into a quiet residential pocket of St. Paul’s Macalester-Groveland neighborhood, La Boulangerie Marguerite offers an impressive array of baked goods. Owners François Kiemde and Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde took over the century-old bakery in 2017. The menu includes both American classics and artisan items inspired by Chef Kiemde’s French pastry training. Whether you grab a glazed cake donut and a bag of hamburger buns or opt for an almond croissant and a rustic French loaf, you’re in for a treat.
Mama Sheila’s House of Soul
Named for Founder and Executive Chef Sheila Brathwaite, Mama Sheila’s House of Soul brings traditional Southern specialties to south Minneapolis. Fried chicken wings, BBQ chicken, mac n’ cheese, black eye peas, corn bread, candied yams—luckily you can try a little bit of everything at the all-you-can-eat buffet. In addition to the food, Mama Sheila’s is beloved for its distinctive décor, which includes portraits of Black artists and luminaries like hometown idol Prince gracing the walls.
When the chicken is this good, a short menu is all you need: at Nashville Coop, pick your chicken style (strips, sandwich, or with Texas toast) and your heat level, ranging from MN Nice (no heat) to Cluckin’ Hot (“24 hour pain”). The chicken’s unique spice blend is inspired by traditional Nashville hot chicken as well as owners’ Arif and Kamal Mohamed’s Ethiopian heritage. Nashville Coop operates two food trucks plus a brick-and-mortar location in St. Paul’s Macalester-Groveland neighborhood.
Pimento Jamaican Kitchen & Rum Bar
Located on Minneapolis’ Eat Street, Pimento Jamaican Kitchen & Rum Bar pairs Jamaican street and comfort food with tropical rum-based cocktails. Entrees include jerk chicken, curry goat, braised oxtail, and curry vegetables—all served with coconut rice and beans, sweet fried plantains, and island slaw, plus a choice of house-made sauce. There’s a second Pimento Jamaican Kitchen location in St. Paul’s Keg and Case Market, and co-founders Yoni Reinharz and Tomme Beevas have been featured on the Food Network and Travel Channel.
Photo Credit: Visit Saint Paul
Chef Gerard Klass puts his unique, modern spin on soul food at Soul Bowl, a fast-casual restaurant in Minneapolis’ trendy North Loop neighborhood. Pick from a menu of specialty bowls or build your own from ingredients such as coconut rice and beans, collard greens, candied yams, jerk chicken, and BBQ braised beef. All items are pork-free, many are vegetarian, and there are even vegan versions of items like mac n’ cheese and fried chicken.
Taste of Rondo
Taste of Rondo is named after the historic Black St. Paul neighborhood that was largely demolished in the 1950s and 1960s for highway construction. Owner Charles Carter has transformed an American Legion Hall into a bar and grill that serves elevated Southern cuisine. Some of the menu’s highlights include chicken wings with a house spice blend, blackened catfish, smoked Gouda grits, and peach cobbler.
Located in St. Paul’s Union Park neighborhood, Tommie’s Pizzaspecializes in New York-style pizza and wings. Owner Tommie Daye’s high-quality pies are topped with house-cured meats, house-made sauce, and fresh vegetables. Signature pies range from classic margherita to a cheeseburger pizza with ground beef, cheddar cheese, and romaine. You can also build your own pizza or customize a slice. Don’t overlook the wings with tasty sauces like BBQ, buffalo, dry jerk, and garlic parmesan.
Photo Credit: Tommie’s Pizza
More Foodie Fun
Taste Twin Cities Food Tours offers a variety of food tours, including the Heart of St. Paul Food Tour, which highlights the city’s history and food scene, and the Minneapolis Riverwalk Food Tour, which features under-the-radar historic neighborhoods. Private tours are available.
The Midtown Global Market is an internationally themed indoor public market with food vendors, retail stalls, and cultural events. Located in Minneapolis’ diverse Lake Street neighborhood, expect everything from arepas and Indian street food to tortas and camel burgers.
St. Paul’s Keg and Case West 7th Market is a food and drink hall featuring brand-new food entrepreneurs and popular Twin Cities eateries. Check the entertainment schedule for live music and family activities at the market’s adjacent park.
Stacy Brooks is a Minneapolis-based freelance journalist focusing on food and travel. Her writing has been published in Hemispheres, Midwest Living, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Wine Enthusiast. She blogs at tangledupinfood.com.