West Bank: Cedar Riverside
Find amazing food, theater, and eclectic shopping in West Bank.
This thriving pocket of Minneapolis is a flourishing hub to many East-African communities and students from the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College. Global cuisine, theater, music, art and more businesses can be found around every corner!
Where to Eat & Drink
A few steps from the Cedar-Riverside intersection, Dilla’s Ethiopian Restaurant gets high marks for its authenticity, the combination platters and affordability. They offer lots of vegetarian and vegan-approved dishes and stage buffets on Thursdays and Sundays for $11. Lucky Dragon draws a crowd of regulars, hooked on the lovingly prepared Vietnamese dishes, giant servings, low prices and affection for the owners. Top notch southwestern Indian food is available at Malabari Kitchen, including biriyani (mixed rice dish), seafood and HOT curry. A student ID will get you a 10 percent discount. The grab-n-go, hole-in-the-wall Mediterranean Deli serves delicious, inexpensive items like falafel, sambusas, lamb gyros and a few West African dishes.
The Red Sea was the first Ethiopian (with Eritrean influences) restaurant in Minneapolis. Their vegetarian options are universally adored as is their generous, 4-9 p.m. daily happy hour. They have a full bar that transforms into a nightclub and live-music venue in the evening, featuring reggae, R&B, soul, hip-hop and more. Jambo Kitchen uses flavors from Africa, Asia and the Middle East to make satisfyingly delicious dishes. A truly community-focused business, 50% of their profits are reinvested into community lending, financial education and other efforts to economically empower disenfranchised communities in Cedar-Riverside.
Occupying a coveted spot at the Cedar Riverside nexus intersection of Cedar and Riverside Avenues, Acadia Café has been a socially-minded, neighborhood-active café/restaurant/pub/music presence for decades. Their sandwiches and burgers hit the mark and they maintain a great craft beer selection.
The Cabooze attracts music artists ranging from up-and-coming, buzz-worthy acts to groups on nostalgia tours to those that aren’t quite ready for an arena show, but almost.
Nomad World Pub doubles as a lively soccer (futbol) viewing spot and live music venue. It’s on the small side but the patio draws in the crowds in summer and there’s even a bocce ball league.
A full listing of the innumerable unique coffee shop hangouts in the area would require a whole separate website. Just know you won’t need to search long for a spot to sit down and relax.
Things to Do
Theatre in the Round, one of the early players that contributed to the Twin Cities becoming a renowned theater destination, still stages nine productions each year. The Southern Theater caters to experimental works of theater and dance. The Saturday night “Ball’s Cabaret” is the “longest-running, weekly, midnight cabaret in the history of human kind (as far as we can tell).” Across the street is the Comedy Corner Underground, a tiny venue that holds regular shows and an open mic every Friday at 10:15 p.m.
The Cedar Cultural Center is one of the city’s most respected music venues, hosting jazz, indie, world, blues and folk artists as well as other live performances. Mixed Blood Theater puts on thought-provoking performances highlighting “injustices, inequities, and cultural collisions,” with a focus on civic engagement. The four theaters inside Rarig Center are home to the University of Minnesota’s Department of Theatre Arts & Dance, with performances throughout the school year.
Visit the House of Balls art gallery where contemporary art invites people to cross the threshold, to question their reality and to leave knowing that they can create their own.
Where to Shop
There are a number of shops and malls around Cedar Riverside selling clothing, jewelry, art, food, and other imported merchandise from Africa and Asia. Many stores have thrived across the neighborhood’s many transformations over the decades. Mayday Books, founded in 1975, is a volunteer-run, progressive, non-profit book shop that now resides in a cozy basement location on Cedar Avenue. It runs meetings, readings, film screenings, discussion groups and more.
The outdoor gear and apparel wonderland that is Midwest Mountaineering stocks equipment for camping, mountaineering, canoeing, kayaking, climbing, skiing and skating, and holds regular sales and special events. Upstairs is Thrifty Outfitters, who stock (and repair!) discounted outdoor apparel and gear.
Freewheel Bike is a beloved retail and repair shop. They have been promoting the now renowned Minneapolis cycling scene since the 1970s, including a repair shop open for public use. Also popular and community-oriented is The Hub Bicycle Co-operative, who sell new and used bikes and gear and do repair.
Deciding they wanted to build something positive for other girls and women in the neighborhood, a group of East African women living in Cedar-Riverside (aged 14-23 years old) started the Sisterhood Boutique. The shop sells a colorful variety of clothing, accessories and affordable clothing options and allows young women involved in the Brian Coyle Center Youth Entrepreneurship Program to learn personal and professional skills from business development to event planning.
Getting to and Around West Bank, Cedar Riverside
If you don’t mind walking a few blocks, there’s plenty of street parking in the area, which becomes more limited the closer you get to the Cedar Ave. and Riverside Ave. intersection.
From downtown, you can get here a few ways. The Metro Transit Light Rail Blue and Green Lines each have stops on different edges of the neighborhood. Also, bus routes 3, 7 and 22 run through and stop in the area.
The neighborhood is relatively compact and is walkable end-to-end for most people!