The thriving culinary culture in Minnesota’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul is significantly influenced by the presence of black-owned eateries. It should come as no surprise that the region is home to some of the biggest Ethiopian and Somali diaspora populations in the country and even has an Iron Chef America winner. Consider this list as your starting point for anything from upscale dining to quick casual, vegan soul cuisine to pizza, and donuts to injera. But keep in mind that this is just a sampling; even though our list contains many beloved establishments, there are many more Black-owned eateries nearby that are unquestionably worth visiting.
Afro Deli is a fast-casual halal restaurant with a fusion menu influenced by African, Mediterranean, and American cuisines. It was founded by Abdirahman Kahin. You can eat things like cheeseburgers, Somali steak sandwiches, and lamb gyros. There are several vegetarian options as well, including vegetable falafel sandwiches and sambusas, an East African deep-fried filled pastry. A lot of foods are gluten-free. Afro Deli has locations in Minneapolis’ Stadium Village neighborhood, downtown St. Paul, and the Minneapolis and St. Paul Skyways.
Bolé Ethiopian Cuisine
Solomon Haile and Rekik Abaineh, the co-owners of Bolé Ethiopian Cuisine in St. Paul’s Como district, provide hearty stews with robust spices and other Ethiopian specialties. The extensive menu offers dishes made with beef, lamb, poultry, fish, and vegetables that diners can eat with pieces of injera (a sourdough flatbread). To sample a range of foods, order one of the combination platters; there are both vegetarian and meat-based samplers available.
Owner and operator of Handsome Hog, Iron Chef America winner and Top Chef contestant Justin Sutherland combines his Southern heritage and classical culinary expertise. The restaurant, which is situated in St. Paul’s famed Cathedral Hill district, offers modern Southern fare such mussels in bacon bone broth and eggs benedict with Cajun hollandaise. The andouille sausage and smoked ham are two items that are manufactured on-site along with many others.
La Boulangerie Marguerite
The Macalester-Groveland district of St. Paul is home to La Boulangerie Marguerite, which sells an outstanding selection of baked products. The century-old bakery was acquired by François Kiemde and Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde in 2017. American staples and artisan dishes influenced by Chef Kiemde’s French pastry background are also available on the menu. You’re in for a treat whether you choose an almond croissant and a rustic French bread or a glazed cake doughnut and a bag of hamburger buns.
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.
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.
Tommie’s Pizza, which is situated in St. Paul’s Union Park district, specializes in New York-style pizza and wings. Fresh vegetables, house-made sauce, and house-cured meats are added to owner Tommie Daye’s premium pies. Specialty pies include everything from the traditional margherita to a cheeseburger pizza with romaine, ground meat, and cheddar cheese. You can also create your own pizza or have a piece made to order. The wings come with great sauces like BBQ, buffalo, dry jerk, and garlic parmesan; don’t neglect them.
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.