Expand your stomach - and your mind
A kid in the candy store situation for the always hungry, the area also offers free art and live theater diversions to break up the meals.
Let’s be clear: There are a number of neighborhoods in Minneapolis whose names don’t have the words “eat” or “street” in close proximity where you can still eat for weeks and never get bored. But this is Eat Street. The Grand Tour of international food. The Yellow Brick Road of ethnic flavors. If you get emotional over food, bring a pack of tissues and maybe skip the mascara.
Like all precious things, Eat Street grew organically. It took root in 1965 with the opening of the Black Forest Inn, known for its classic, massive German dishes and beer garden, and later formed into a tidy north-south strip, veritably begging for its eventual namesake designation. Co-anchoring the early days of the strip are the no frills Mexican meals at Little Tijuana, which have been a quick lunch and late-night wind-down favorite for 40 years.
Get a wedge of moussaka or precision-sliced, tender gyros at Christos, voted “best Greek restaurant” by Mpls. St. Paul magazine in 2017. Quality Vietnamese cuisine was one of the first ethnic options to gain popularity in the less gastronomically adventurous Twin Cities of the 1970s, so this option is particularly well represented today. Eat Street’s contribution to this scene includes the pleasingly affordable street food at My Huong Kitchen, the traditional and contemporary plates at Jasmine 26 and the pho-nomenal Vietnamese staples at Quang.
The hearty portions and celebrated happy hour at Pancho Villa is a popular place to get the night started. Or delve into the neighborhood’s more recent craving for bistro fare and cocktails in primary colors at Eat Street Social.
And we’ve only scratched the surface. Upscale Chinese food is skillfully prepared at Rainbow Chinese Restaurant and Bar, courageously spicy Caribbean food, inspired by loving island grandmas, can be had at Harry Singh’s and Pimento Jamaican Kitchen and bowls of Japanese happiness are available at Ichiddo Ramen.
MIA, formerly known as the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, has been the city’s art keystone for over 100 years. With the exception of special exhibits, admission to MIA is free. Their collection is composed of a staggering 89,000 objects, including world-famous works, representing about 20,000 years of history across all continents. You’re even allowed to snap photos for personal or scholarly use.
It’s not Uffizi-huge, but a special kind of stamina is required to absorb MIA in one visit. Best to break up the museum into digestible portions, with refueling retreats back on Eat Street.
The Play’s the Thing
Minneapolis’s theater community has a glorious history. An important component in this legacy is the Children’s Theatre Company (formerly known as “The Moppet Players”), still going strong after 50 years and over 200 productions. The CTC moved into its current space, adjacent to MIA, in 1975 and has been named “The #1 children’s theatre in the nation,” by Time magazine. It’s considered to be “North America’s flagship theatre for multigenerational audiences.”
The city’s affinity for live theater has spawn numerous mid-sized and smaller neighborhood theaters, several of which are within reasonable walking distance of your last Eat Street meal, including the Jungle Theater and Huge Improv Theater in Lyn-Lake and the Music Box Theatre on the south side of downtown.