Minneapolis is full of unexpected culinary surprises, and there’s perhaps nowhere with a higher density of delights than Northeast Minneapolis. Historically an industrial hub, Northeast almost feels like a city unto itself — it has an excellent food scene, from the banks of the Mississippi River to the far end of Central Avenue. For early birds and night owls alike, the area has great dishes available around the clock. Can it be done in under 24 hours? Absolutely, but pacing is key. Here’s a handy guide to eating through Northeast in a single day.
7 a.m. Pastries at Durango Bakery
Durango Bakery isn’t a sit-down breakfast spot, but it’s well worth an early morning stop. This tiny panaderia is stocked with fresh pan dulces, breads, and cakes, which perfume the space with the trademark, yeasty, sweet air of any bakery worth its weight in flour. Load a tray with croissants, apple empanadas, conchas, and pineapple and cream cheese Danishes — all the treats an early riser could desire. Durango opens at 5 a.m. most mornings. 2418 NE Central Ave, Minneapolis, MN.
9 a.m. Coffee at Matchbox Coffeeshop
Just a few blocks from the Mississippi River, find a great Northeast watering hole for a morning coffee and a peaceful read. The shop itself barely stretches 8 feet across (read: matchbox) and it has a cozy, intimate vibe that makes you feel like you’ve been let in on a secret, or stepped onto the set of a romantic movie. The coffee menu is extensive: Order an espresso or subtly sweet and smooth Thai coffee. Or go classic: Black drip coffee is just one dollar, and refills cost a quarter. Matchbox is cooperatively owned, too. 1306 NE 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN.
Noon Lunch at Emily’s Lebanese Deli
Emily’s Lebanese Deli is one of those restaurants that seems to have grown organically out of the neighborhood around it. It’s known for an awesome selection of traditional Lebanese food. On a sunny day, find seating in the dappled shade of the patio, or at a table inside the deli itself.
From the menu, try the silky smooth baba ghanoush, which has a strong garlic-forward taste. While the pita that comes with this is good, the mistah bread is a golden-brown, buttery upgrade. For a main dish, the kafta kabob has a deep, herby flavor profile and a tender texture. Save room for the baklava: Emily’s crispy filo dough isn’t dampened by the honey, and a thick, flavor-dense bottom layer brings it all together. 641 University Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN.
2 p.m. Uncle Franky’s for a Chicago dog
Uncle Franky’s is one of those tiny, roadside buildings that’s easy to miss — but what’s hard to miss is its trademark cartoon sign of a heavily mustachioed gentleman with a hot dog in hand. Uncle Franky’s ditches the gimmicks and hones in on a menu of classic dogs, burgers and sandwiches.
Keep it simple with the Chicago dog (though the Reuben and Uncle Franky’s take on a Juicy Lucy are equally appetizing). This Windy City classic is as refreshing as it is filling: The dog itself is small, but there’s a fantastic snap to the casing. The bold taste pairs well with the zippy relish, tomato, and peppers. Staying true to Chicago, Franky’s doesn’t dress this dog with ketchup. Make it a meal with a fountain Sprite and a handful of hot fries. 728 Broadway St NE, Minneapolis, MN.
5 p.m. Cocktails at Twin Spirits
When it comes to distilleries, Minneapolis has an embarrassment of riches. Twin Spirits is the northernmost of these gems: It’s a woman-owned spot with a great outdoor area, an herb garden on the patio, and creative cocktails.
Three drinks are summer standouts. The Hot Girl Summer is a refreshing rum drink with a hit of citrus that’s ideal for beating the heat. Another lives up to its name: The Ruckus Rosemary doesn’t bury its botanical flavor behind the vodka. The fragrant rosemary, picked from the garden, stands out loud and proud. The real showstopper, though, is Twin Spirit’s Venus Verde. This gin drink is muddled with basil, giving it a verdant hue — then it’s finished with a ginger simple syrup for a sweet, spice-forward flavor. It’s a great pick for a hot summer day. 2931 NE Central Ave, Minneapolis, MN.
6:30 p.m. Dinner at Momo Sushi
For affordable, high-quality sushi, Momo Sushi can’t be beat. Start with four pieces of nigiri or sashimi pieces selected by the chefs. Dunk these cuts of tuna, salmon, and eel resting on a bed of chewy rice in a tub of soy sauce as an appetizer.
Follow it with the rainbow dragon roll: shrimp tempura sushi topped with salmon, tuna, and yellowtail. The pieces aren’t giant, but the ratio of rice to fish balances well. The vegetables are fresh and crunchy, a nice textural companion. Top it off with a beer. What more can you ask of an evening meal? (Except for an order of steaming momos, maybe.) 1839 NE Central Ave, Minneapolis, MN.
10 p.m. Late-night tacos at El Taco Riendo
At El Taco Riendo, the aroma of fragrant spices and fried tortillas hit as soon as the door swings open. The chicken tinga tacos are the way to go: They come heavily dressed with onions, radishes, and cilantro. They’re stuffed to bursting, with plenty of cleanup required after a few bites.
The tinga is pleasantly spicy, kicking without causing lasting damage to the taste buds, and the finish is sweet and tangy. For something heartier, the fajitas positively sizzle and smell like heaven, and the torta Hawaiiana is another great bet. Wash it all down with an ice-cold horchata, or grab a cold Jarritos from the cooler. 2412 NE Central Ave, Minneapolis, MN.