Photos by John Yuccas and Heidi Ehalt
Owamni embraces Indigenous techniques and ingredients.
One of the country’s most anticipated Indigenous restaurants leads a revival of the Midwestern city’s diverse food scene.
One thing that was left out of far too many Minneapolis features over the past year was how quickly the city dusted itself off and took a long overdue look in the mirror so it could become a beacon of hope on a broader scale. The feeling going into the fall is a lot like the crimson leaves that line the lush shores of its many lakes and streams: a transformative sense of restoration and renewal worth seeing in person.
Minneapolis’s sorely overlooked restaurant scene has been a prime source of positivity as of late. Arguably the most anticipated opening in the entire Midwest is Owamni, the first proper restaurant from the Sioux Chef founder Sean Sherman and his business/life partner, Dana Thompson. A sobering history lesson that starts with the neon sign near its entrance (“You Are On Native Land”), Owamni avoids the colonial implications of cane sugar, dairy, and wheat flour by leaving them off the menu and instead embracing indigenous techniques and ingredients through such rarely seen offerings as bison tartare, preserved rabbit, and pulled duck tacos built on a bed of pickled squash and nixtamalized corn. Similarly, fellow James Beard Award–winner Ann Kim draws on her roots at the ambitious restaurant Sooki & Mimi, where the whirlwind food is as inspired by her Korean American background as it is by her many R&D trips to Mexico.
You could easily round out the rest of a trip around Minneapolis’s food and drink phenoms, with such essential wine, beer, and cocktail establishments as Bar Brava, Fair State, and Meteor. Also of note: Jorge Guzmán’s elegant nods to his Yucatan roots (Petite León); Jamie Malone’s Eataly-esque reboot (EaTo) of her downtown restaurant Eastside; and a transformative food hall (the Market at Malcolm Yards) that features Indian/Nepali street food (MomoDosa) and Japanese sandwiches (Sunday) alongside Detroit pizza (Wrecktangle) and some of the country’s most creative ice cream (Bebe Zito).
As for other activities worth a look within the metro area this fall, Paisley Park recently unveiled a limited, never-before-seen display of Prince’s custom shoes; the Walker Art Center will highlight the abstract paintings of Ethiopian artist Julie Mehretu starting on October 16; and St. Paul’s two-year-old Allianz Field stadium is hoping to host another playoff run for its beloved Minnesota United FC team as high-octane soccer matches continue to corral a growing number of new fans.
While the Scandinavian-style Hewing Hotel is still one of Minneapolis’s cornerstone properties, the downtown area now boasts an art deco beaut in the Rand Tower Hotel and will soon be the site of Minnesota’s only five-star hotel.
Stay at the Hewing Hotel: from $245/night, expedia.com
Stay at the Rand Tower Hotel: from $178/night, expedia.com
As evidenced by the $2.8 million brought in by GiveMN’s annual fundraiser last May—and the more than $50 million raised since the start of the pandemic—nonprofits are a force to be reckoned with in Minnesota. Check out how you can help through the nonprofit organization HandsOn Twin Cities and GiveMN’s robust “search for a cause” tool.
You can also support the Minneapolis community by checking out the artist-led affordable art shop Walrus and the open studio events at the Northrup King Building, which houses such hidden gems as the POC-led young artist incubator Studio 400.
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