The 19 Best Restaurants in Northeast Minneapolis: Our Local Awards

best northeast minneapolis restaurants

Northeast, Minneapolis: The Twin Cities’s haven for artists, breweries, and… delicious restaurants?

You bet!

Over the years, Northeast has been upping their restaurant game. Big time.

To the point that I’d now argue there might be more amazing restaurants in the six funky square miles across the river than just about anywhere else in the Twin Cities.

How do I know? Because as we were putting together our local picks, you’ll notice this list is far longer than our usual round ups.


Delicious restaurants! Pay attention!

From our picks for the best date night spots to the best dive bars without a roof. Here’s our choices for the 19 best Northeast Minneapolis restaurants.

Twin Cities Map of the Best Restaurants in Northeast, Minneapolis

Most awesome lobster inside a dive bar: Smack Shack at The 1029 Bar

How’s that for a category to start things off??

The title says it all. Smack Shack at The 1029 Bar is the only place you’re going to find lobster inside a dive bar. And not just any lobster either, but absolutely delicious lobster that we’d put up against anything on the East Coast.

So step inside this dive, grab a beer, and get ready to get weird. Only in Northeast!

Best fancy Asian food: Hai Hai

hai hai minneapolis

At Hai Hai, Chef Christina Nguyen, excuse me… two time James Beard Award Finalist for Best Chef in the Midwest Christina Nguyen, takes the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian dishes she grew up loving and turns them on their head.

You won’t find the usual Pho or Pad Thai here. Instead, you’ll get unique plates that you’ve got to try to believe. Fan favorites include the Balinese Chicken Rice Plate, the Balinese Cauliflower, and the Banana Blossom Salad.

Oh, and don’t skip on the bar. It’s got some of the best cocktails in the Twin Cities.

  • Address: 2121 University Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
  • Website: Hai Hai

Best dive bar burger: Shaws

In Northeast, it doesn’t get more divey than Shaws. For years, this place literally didn’t have a ceiling, instead opting for a plastic tarp.

Thankfully, the bar menu puts the interior design to shame. Namely, some classic, no-fuss burgers that we’ve come to love.

  • Address: 1528 University Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
  • Website: Shaws

Best patio: Aster Cafe

The Stone Arch bridge has some of the best views of Downtown Minneapolis anywhere. Aster Cafe has views of Downtown Minneapolis AND The Stone Arch bridge. Meaning this place really has some of the best Minneapolis views anywhere.

This beautiful patio is perfect for lounging away a lazy day while taking in all the downtown Minneapolis views. Located on Northeast’s Main Street, a street somebody once called “one of the most scenic roads in America.”

Who was that somebody? No clue, but they probably made that decision after enjoying Aster Cafe’s patio.

  • Address: 125 SE Main St, Minneapolis, MN 55414
  • Website: Aster Cafe

Best cheffy pizza: Young Joni

pizza in northeast minneapolis

If you’re looking some some of the best pizza anywhere, you have to hit Young Joni. We put Young Joni on the shortlist of best pizza in Minneapolis, and we stand by that claim!

Apparently, we’re not the only ones dishing out awards to Young Joni, either. In 2019, Ann Kim, the head chef of Young Joni, won the ultra prestigious James Beard award for the Best Chef in the Midwest.

Safe to say, you’ll find all sorts of amazing pizza here, like the extra famous and absolutely delicious Korean BBQ pizza.

PS – don’t forget to check out the back bar speakeasy. We just didn’t tell you about it… 😎

  • Address: 165 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
  • Website: Young Joni

Best wood fired pizza: Element Wood Fire Pizza

If you’re looking for plentiful cheesy yet extra charred wood fired pizza, Element is your best bet in Northeast Minneapolis. Don’t let the small building fool you. This neighborhood spot churns out huge flavor.

  • Address: 96 Broadway St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
  • Website: Element Pizza

Best cheffy Mexican: Centro

Centro Minneapolis

When we heard a Mexican place was opening across the street from one of our favorite Twin Cities breweries, (that’s be the Northeast legend, Indeed Brewing) we weren’t sure what to expect.

What we got were some absolutely fantastic takes on classic Mexican tacos. Tinga, al pastor, fish, and even nopales cactus… it’s all here and it’s all amazing. All served in a beautiful tequila bar atmosphere. (Centro is also connected to its even fancier sister restaurant, Popol Vuh, in case you want to up the chef-factor even higher.)

Best casual Mexican: Maya Cuisine

This authentic Mexican spot includes both cafeteria style ordering and casual sit down. No matter which option you choose, you’re sure to get the area’s most authentic tamales, tacos, and pazole. All topped with your choice of incredible salsas, of course.

  • Address:1840 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
  • Website: Maya Cuisine

Most unique world fare: Chimborazo

chimborazo minneapolis

A few years ago, I’d just returned from a week-long trip to Costa Rica. (For anyone who’s ever been to Costa Rica, you know that the hugely flavorful Arroz con Pollo is the unofficial national dish of that country.) Fresh off the plane with a huge craving, I found myself searching all over the Twin Cities for a place serving this authentic dish.

Not only did Chimborazo have it (they call it Chaulafan) but their version was nearly an exact replica to the dish I’d fallen in love with, nearly 3,000 miles away.

This sort of experience is exactly why Chimborazo has the most unique world fare in Northeast Minneapolis. Their authentic Ecuadorian food is unmatched, and has rightfully become a neighborhood staple.

  • Address: 2851 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
  • Website: Chimborazo

Best Indian food: Gorkha Palace

Okay, technically Gorkha Palace tilts towards Nepalese cuisine, but with Curries and MoMos this delicious, who needs to split hairs?

Gorkha Palace definitely serves up some of the most delicious food in all of Northeast, which is why we don’t even hesitate to award it the best Indian food in Northeast Minneapolis.

  • Address: 23 4th St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
  • Website: Gorkha Palace

Our favorite Mediterranean food: Olive & Lamb

Olive & Lamb serves delicious Mediterranean food in a beautiful fast-casual atmosphere.

Here, you’ll find all the Mediterranean staples, like top notch gyros, hummus, and rice bowls, but the star of the show is certainly their Kebab Plates.

  • Address: 2424 University Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
  • Website: Olive & Lamb

Most popular Mediterranean: Holy Land

Holy Land is definitely one of the biggest names in Mediterranean food in Minneapolis. That’s probably thanks to an evolution since that since 1986, has seen the brand grow from a small Mediterranean deli to a big business now stocking pita and hummus at grocery stores around the country.

At the root of it all though, is the tasty Northeast Minneapolis restaurant. Their lengthy menu features classic takes on all the Middle Eastern staples, like gryos, kabobs, wood fired rotisserie chicken, meat and rice plates, and greek salads.

  • Address: 2513 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
  • Website: Holy Land

Best Lebanese food: Emily’s Lebanese Deli

emily's - best lebanese deli in northeast

Oh Emily’s, how we love you. This neighborhood staple has been delighting Northeast residents since 1973. In that time, it’s perfected a menu packed with unique Lebanese flavors, and the result is so good they even lured in Guy Fieri and the Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives team. (Who all had fantastic things to say, of course.)

No matter what you get here, just make sure to douse it in their crack-like garlic sauce.

  • Address: 641 University Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
  • Website: Emily’s

Most fun restaurant: Betty Danger’s Country Club

Ever want to play mini golf while you eat? Or how about finish your meal with a full size Ferris Wheel ride?

Only at Betty Danger’s!

This is one of the craziest places in the Twin Cities, and an awesome bet if you’re looking for one of the most unique restaurant experiences anywhere.

All gimmicks aside, the food is pretty good, too!

Best fried fish: The Anchor Fish & Chips

the anchor fish and chips

What began as a delicious food truck has now become a Northeast Minneapolis favorite. Through the small but charming space, Anchor Fish and Chips consistently serves up perfectly fried fish… and chips.

As in, the best fish and chips in the city, at least according to our best seafood in Minneapolis awards.

Best fancier restaurant: Erte & the Peacock Lounge

For a classier night on the Northeast town, Erte is a great choice. This historic space has been updated with interesting modern touches. There’s the elegantly decorated peacock themed bar along with a massive dining room that’s adorned with interesting and unusual art.

The whole vibe is backed by a food and drink menu that always delivers.

  • Address: 323 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
  • Website: Erte

Coming Soon: Vinai

It’s not open yet, but when it does, we’ll be the first ones there!

After getting our minds sufficiently blown at Vinai’s sneak peak tasting menu, we have no doubt this will be one of the hottest new restaurants when it finally opens in Northeast Minneapolis. Expect to find elevated Hmong cuisine from a James Beard chef. And yes, it will be amazing.

The exact opening is TBD, so we’ll all be eagerly checking their website for updates!

  • Address: 1717 2nd Street NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
  • Website: Vinai

Gone but not forgotten…

Best Thai food:  Sen Yai Sen Lek

*Update: In April 2022, Sen Yai Sen Lek permanently closed. 😭

This cozy spot is definitely the most popular Thai restuarant in Northeast, and we’d agree with the crowds here.

Sen Yai Sen Lek does all the Thai staples wonderfully, and they also score bonus points for their unique street food options, like the cult favorite Khao Soi.

  • Address: 2422 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
  • Website: Sen Yai Sen Lek

Most unique Asian food: PinKU Japanese Street Food

*Update: PinKU also closed on January 1, 2022.

Somehow, PinKU feels like both a sushi bar and a food truck, all at once. You’ll find the usual sushi rolls as well as some crazy fish-topped rice plates. Not to mention, a rotating menu of specials so unique that you won’t find them anywhere else.

PS – Rumor is, these guys don’t even own a freezer. Their food is that fresh!

  • Address: 20 University Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
  • Website: PinKU

Best date night spot: Bardo

*Update: Bardo closed in 2020.

Since Bardo opened in 2017, if you were going on a date in Northeast Minneapolis, chances are you were either keeping it weird and artsy with some sort of free option, or you were headed to Bardo.

In light of COVID19, the restaurant recently re-imagined itself as Bardog, a gourmet sausage spot. Maybe not as romantic, but the food is still great. And as always, the restaurant still features the same beautiful and classy indoor space along with a quaint and cute outdoor patio.

  • Address: 222 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414
  • Website: Bardo
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