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Multicultural Food and Fun in the Global Twin Cities

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Soul Bowl / John Yuccas courtesy The Culinary Portfolio @theculinaryportfolio

Multicultural Food and Fun in the Global Twin Cities

By Tiffany Johnson

Minnesota is home to a uniquely rich culture fueled by nationalities from around the globe, making it more diverse than many might expect. Here are some ways that you can begin to immerse yourself in the rich cultural resources that Minnesota has to offer.

People biking and walking in front of the Midtown Global Market building

Visit the Midtown Global Market food hall to try meals from dozens of up-and-coming Minneapolis chefs / Fibonacci Blue, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

When it comes to experiencing an array of cultures, the Midtown Global Market is a terrific place to start. Here you can explore a variety of food and goods from around the world. You can also reserve a tour to meet merchants from different backgrounds and to learn more about what it means to operate a public market. Currently you can enjoy weekly music showcases at Midtown Global Market every Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m.

If you are looking to dig deeper, consider visiting a culturally specific museum or historic site. The Twin Cities are home to many, including the Minneapolis American Indian Center, the Somali Museum of Minnesota, the Hmong Museum and the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery.

Explore solo, invite a date or plan a family visit to ask questions, uncover knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of a culture that is different from your own.

Somali Museum Aqal Soomaali interior in Minneapolis

Step inside a traditional Aqal Soomaali at the Somali Museum of Minnesota

Enjoy a Taste of Minnesota

Food is another great way to experience culture and support small businesses. With Minnesota being home to so many different nationalities, our local cuisine is naturally bursting with flavors from all over the world.

Experience Minnesota’s Black heritage and support Black business owners by dining southern-style at Mama Sheila’s House of Soul and Soul Bowl, both in Minneapolis. Or try the bold flavors of African cuisine at the Red Sea or Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant. Brooklyn Center is known for its array of amazing West African restaurants, including African Deli and Mama Ti’s Liberian Restaurant.

We can’t forget the taco. With a large Mexican immigrant population, Minnesota has inevitably become home to a number of amazing restaurants serving authentic Mexican cuisine. Prieto Taqueria, which recently opened their new location on Nicollet Avenue, is one of these gems. This restaurant is owned by head chef Alejandro Castillion, an immigrant from Sonora, Mexico, who got his start in the local culinary scene at the Midtown Global Market. You can explore Lake Street to uncover more outstanding Mexican cuisine.

For Asian dishes, you’ll find lots of choices on University Avenue, in the Frogtown neighborhood and on the University of Minnesota campus. Tea House cooks up some of the best authentic Szechuan food, and Dong Hae is a modish Korean restaurant serving sushi and other authentic fare.

Support Small Businesses

To see resilience in action and to support local entrepreneurs, check out the Mall of America Community Commons, where a variety of neighborhood businesses displaced in 2020 have found a temporary new home.  For example, the apparel store Dauren, owned by local tastemaker Brandon Barnes, offers contemporary clothing inspired by urban streetwear and Black culture. Silk Road Wellness, another business located within the MOA Community Commons, focuses on holistic South Asian home remedies inspired by health practices from both the east and the west, an example of merging cultures and traditions.

Last but not least, with the return of the Minnesota State Fair, plan to spend some time at the International Bazaar, a collection of vendors from around the world, where you can also enjoy pop-up performances from the Arts A’Fair showcase displaying the tapestry of cultures that make our state so vibrant and beautiful. Organizations that have performed in the past include Black Storytellers Alliance, Theater Mu (an Asian American Theater Company) and Zorongo Flamenco dance.

There are so many exciting things to do in Minnesota that can also help us to grow, understand and support our diverse communities and the people that make them. Don’t be afraid to diversify your summer itinerary and plunge into the cultural richness that exists right here in our state.

Tiffany Johnson

Tiffany Johnson is a journalist, children's book author and non-profit marketer. She is passionate about community, culture, travel and the arts. When she is not writing, she can most likely be found singing, playing the piano, cooking something spicy or binge-watching classic films with her husband.