Spin the Globe
This stretch of Minneapolis’ famous Lake Street is rich in culture, history, food and shopping. It’s a hub for small and local businesses, attracting a variety of ideas and people from all types of backgrounds. East Lake Street is commonly known as the place to find the most authentic cuisine from all over the world. The ever-changing nature of this street can make it a full treasure trove of entertainment and enjoyment.
Where to Shop
Both Midtown Global Market and Mercado Central have a substantial amount of shopping options in addition to their wondrous food courts (see below), including apparel, jewelry, art, groceries, books, alcohol, and a wide variety of home goods. Lake Plaza is another food court and bazaar catering to the Hispanic community, with 84 food and retail vendors. Shantie Plaza carries traditional, handmade Indian apparel, including saris, kurtas, lehengas, and accessories.
The Midtown Farmers Market is open May through October, Saturdays and Tuesdays. On hand is fresh produce, eggs, chicken, honey, maple syrup, flowers, spices, bread, sauces, jams, jellies, arts, craft and a variety of ready-to-eat food. There’s also live music!
Hymie’s Vintage Records, has been operating on Lake Street through thick and thin since 1988. Here you’ll find a selection of records from every type of genre at some of the most affordable prices in town. Forage Modern Workshop sells trendy and vintage home décor and furniture, like rugs, baskets, pillows, lighting and art. Nostalgia Zone Comic Books has an excellent collection of comic books, toys, and pop culture items. It’s your typical old fashion comic book store, covered wall to wall with fun stuff. You never know what you’ll discover at every twist and turn of this shop.
Things to Do
The Pillsbury House Theater produces three main stage productions annually, focusing on contemporary works, a late-night series that includes a meal with the artists and “Naked Stages” where emerging artists perform new pieces after a seven-month training fellowship. Renowned institution, In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, produces full-length puppet plays geared for families and adults, using puppets and masks they design and build themselves. The Trylon Microcinema is a 50-seat movie theater run by volunteers that typically screens B movies, cult films, career retrospectives of famous directors and the like.
The Danish American Center has plenty of activities and events related to Danish living and culture. Events throughout the year include: sausage making classes, seasonal art fairs and an annual Christmas dinner. For more history and culture, the Somali Museum of Minnesota has a collection of over 700 pieces of craftwork, paintings and sculptures. They also offer educational programs about traditional Somali culture.
El Nuevo Rodeo is Latin dance club and restaurant that has live music and salsa dance parties. Grammy-award winning Mexican and Latino artists are known to perform here as well.
Where to Eat & Drink
Dominated by Latino and East African fare the eating options along East Lake Street are literally staggering (because you’d be in a walking food coma if you tried to sample them all too quickly).
Addis Ababa Restaurant serves Ethiopian (and East African) dishes, including numerous samplers if you just can’t make up your mind. The deliciousness at Somali/Middle Eastern Hamdi Restaurant, includes a wildly popular goat dish which often sells out, so plan for lunch or an early dinner.
There’s great Mexican cuisine up and down Lake Street, but that glorious path was largely paved two decades ago by Pineda Tacos, serving great value plates of tacos, tortas and burritos. It’s not on the menu, but if you want the biggest burrito you’ve ever seen in your life, order the “burrote.” Sonora Grill took Lake Street’s Mexican scene to the next level with chef-driven, Latin fusion takes on tacos (“carmelos”), sandwiches (“bocadillos”), meat skewers (“pinchos”) and a variety of seafood dishes. A local favorite, Taqueria La Haiciend is the place to check out for the most authentic Mexican cuisine. They are consistently on lists for top tacos in the city. Try their signature al pastor taco, which consists of tender pork strips with pineapple and onions.
Midtown Global Market has well-executed Mexican, Middle Eastern, Italian, Indian, Korean, Moroccan, Chinese, East African, a brewery, ice cream and baked goods all under one roof. Mercado Central is the place for a number of great authentic taco, burrito, pupusas, tortas, juices and grocery/bakery options. The best part is you can find it all in the same building.
Authentic and flavorful Nepalese, Indian and Tibetan food can be found at Himalayan Restaurant. Many attest that the buffet is among the best deals in the city.
Popular Gandhi Mahal is a frequent presence on local “best of” lists for its authentic Indian cuisine, wonderful buffet and its sustainable approach. Among other things, they grow food in community gardens and their basement, where they also raise tilapia!
The Hi-Lo Diner does many things well, but you haven’t lived until you’ve tried a “High Top” (various selections, all piled onto fried pastry dough for a savory-sweet result that will make you scream for more).
Du Nord Craft Spirits is a few blocks off Lake Street, but we’ll make an exception for this hidden gem, serving cocktails made with their gin, vodka, and liquors. You’re allowed to bring in outside food from home or a restaurant, but if you skipped that step there’s also often a food truck just outside. Lawless Distilling is also a short hike from East Lake Street to access their reasonably priced cocktails (starting at $8) and a friendly atmosphere. They also allow outside food, including having orders delivered to the bar! Urban Forage Winery & Cider House’s taproom is open Thursday through Sunday evenings. They host trivia every Thursday and wine tours/tastings every Sunday.
You’ll find Dogwood Coffee beans in a lot of restaurants and cafes in Minneapolis, but one of their store front coffee bars is off of East Lake Street. Dogwood takes care to focus on the roasting process and the result is one of the smoothest cups of coffee you’ve ever had.
Getting to and Around East Lake
(Starting point of Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center on Nicollet)
From downtown, getting to East Lake by car ranges from 15-25 minutes, depending on where you’re headed. Free street parking can be found on or just off Lake Street along most of the strip. A few spots may require a short walk.
A variety of Metro Transit buses run from downtown to points along Lake Street, including Route 4, Route 5, Route 9, Route 14, and the Light Rail Blue Line.
Traveling east and west along Lake Street is a snap on the Route 21 bus, which runs every 6-9 minutes.
For more information on route options from your point of interest, visit Metro Transit's website and for information on other transportation options in the city, visit our Maps & Transportation info page.