Discover the eco-conscious culinary scene of Minneapolis and St. Paul, where sustainability meets delicious, local flavors.
In the bustling Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, sustainability isn’t just a trend – it’s a way of life that extends into people’s homes and onto their dining tables. From farm-to-fork sourcing to reducing food waste, the restaurants listed below exemplify the region’s values and philosophy when it comes to how and what they eat. The eateries vary in size and offerings – some are new, some have been around for decades – but all of them share one particular characteristic; they embrace the bountiful resources of Minnesota’s rich farmlands and a commitment to environmentally-friendly practices. And like the cities’ residents themselves, each has its own story.
Owamni by the Sioux Chef
Described as the most important restaurant in America by one national newspaper, Owamni specializes in ‘decolonized’ food. Taking up the top floor of a building on the Mississippi riverfront in downtown Minneapolis, the eatery’s ever-changing menu serves up authentic North American cuisine made using ingredients available to indigenous people before European colonizers arrived, and sourced primarily from local Native American producers. While many of the recipes are new, they are all based on meals eaten by the Dakota and Anishinaabe peoples at a location that is sacred land for both. They eschew ‘colonial’ ingredients such as wheat flour, cane sugar, and dairy, and instead focus on items such as bison, duck, crawfish, wild rice, corn, mushrooms and squash. In addition to zero-proof cocktails made with native fruits and herbs, they serve up ‘indigenous’ iced teas. Reservations are critical as they tend to be booked out months in advance.
420 S. 1st Street, Minneapolis, Minn. 55401
Established in 2013, Bang Brewery is committed to brewing 100% organic beers in the most sustainable way possible. They are one of a small group of brewers around the country who have been provided with ‘kernza’ – a deep-rooted, perennial grain that builds topsoil, improves water quality and prevents erosion. The venue’s owners are constantly looking for new ways to increase their sustainability, including having bike rack on the street, partnering with an organic pizza maker, and planting a prairie/wildflower garden with local plants designed to protect the soil. Their beers are 100 percent organic and they serve all of their food out of a custom-built, pre-fab grain bin. They also consistently rotate their offerings with tantalising mixers featuring lemon, ginger, and basil shandy, and more.
2320 Capp Road, St. Paul, Minn. 55114
Gardens of Salonica
Many of Minneapolis’ most sustainable restaurants are found in small, out-of-the-way spots that make the most of every square foot. Such is the case with the Gardens of Salonica, which opened back in 1991. Originally intended to be just a coffee shop, customer demand grew and it became a full-service restaurant. They offer up rotating and seasonal specials that feature a mix of traditional and modern Greek cuisine. While some ingredients are sourced internationally, they mainly focus on organic, wild-caught and locally produced food. Well-informed servers are on hand to make recommendations for every course, from their house-made tyro to local-favorite pastitsios. While they do a lot of catering – and even host international food tours – restaurant hours are limited and the dining room is small, so reservations are recommended.
19 5th Street NE, Minneapolis, Minn. 55413
Brasa Premium Rotisserie
With three locations throughout Minneapolis/St. Paul (and a fourth due to open soon), Brasa Premium Rotisserie provides Minnesotans with a taste of south Creole cooking. And they do it by sourcing their ingredients locally, with fresh produce, organic eggs, beans and fair trade coffee and teas. Rotisserie chicken is a menu staple, served with cream gravy or red sauce, while their roasted pork is slow cooked with garlic-lime mojo. Among the vegan offerings are BBQ tofu, pineapple pickles, sweet potatoes, chickpea curry and coconut milk. And what would Creole be without fish dishes? They offer up catfish and grits, collard greens and pickled hot peppers. The proprietors also discourage tipping and instead make clear that their menu prices support “premium ingredient sourcing” as well as respectable wages, paid time-off and various other benefits. In other words, they offer sustainable careers as well as sustainable food.
600 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis. Minn. 55414
777 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, Minn. 55105
812 W. 46th Street, Minneapolis, Minn. 55419
Loon Liquor Company
Founded by two Minnesota residents, Loon Liquor Company is a distillery with a mission to “craft from scratch the most delicious spirits from organic, local suppliers while quantifiably improving social and environmental sustainability”. The first Southern Minnesota distillery in 100 years to be granted federal permission to produce spirits, the founders, Simeon Rossi and Mark Schiller, were high school friends enjoying Simeon’s White Russians when they decided to find a way to make them available to everyone. They started with Loonshine, an organic, unaged, 80-proof whiskey made from Northfield-grown wheat and Wisconsin malted barley. Since then they have earned national and international recognition for their spirits. Inside is a cocktail room serving up a full menu of organic spirits, craft cocktails and mocktails, together with some small, local bites. They make all their drinks (including bitters, tonic and faux vermouth) in-house with fresh, “as-local-as-possible” ingredients.
1325 Armstrong Road, Northfield, Minn., 55057
Tao Cafe and Loonery
Since 1968, Tao Cafe and Loonery has brought its distinctive brand of sustainable wellness to Minneapolis. They offer a cafe, a herbery, educational events, holistic health services and a wellness retreat. The cafe promotes good health – both for customers and the planet – advocating a balanced diet that is simple and nutritious, and sourcing ingredients in a sustainable fashion. Whether a guest wants to start their day with avocado toast and buckwheat pancakes or enjoy lunch or dinner with a coconut curry bowl, the cafe has lots to offer. There is an extensive (non-alcoholic) drinks menu that includes coffees and teas, smoothies, elixirs, tonics and shots. Those looking for an energy boost can down an E3 Live Shot with nutrient-dense superfoods, or, if you’re feeling under the weather, try a Fire Cider Shot – an in-house remedy fermented with citrus, ginger, garlic, onions, horseradish, turmeric and habanero cayenne peppers in an apple cider vinegar.
2200 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn. 55405
Wise Acre Eatery
Wise Acre doesn’t just partner with farms to source local foods – it IS a farm. The venture’s two owners met as horticulture students at the University of Minnesota and now own the on-site farm, as well as the market, deli and restaurant located a 45-minute drive away south of Minneapolis city centre, where they serve up food using ingredients grown and prepared themselves. They practice chemical-free regenerative agriculture to benefit the soil and the animals they raise, and use a greenhouse and aquaponics to supply year-round fresh food. The restaurant offers breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, offering a variety of dishes including gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and dairy-free options. Highlights include French toast bread pudding with rhubarb aronia sauce, toasted pecans, whipped cream, maple syrup and powdered sugar.
5401 Nicollet Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55419