- Where is the Nokomis Neighborhood?
- A Quick History of the Nokomis Neighborhood
- Nokomis Neighborhood Attractions
- Restaurants and Bars
- 5-8 Club
- BaGu Shushi & Thai
- Bull’s Horn
- Casa Maria
- Creekside Supper Club & Lounge
- Dominguez Family Restaurant
- Fat Lorenzo’s
- Grande Sunrise Mexican Seafood
- Guavas Cuban Cafe
- Herbie Butcher’s Fried Chicken
- Hot Plate
- ie Italian Eatery
- Pizza Biga
- The Sidecar at the Tap
- Tipsy Steer
- Town Hall Lanes
- Turtle Bread Company
- Un dito
- Coffee Shops and Bakery
- Ice Cream & Treats
- Other Chain Restaurants and Retailers
Where is the Nokomis Neighborhood?
The Nokomis neighborhood in Minneapolis is centered around Lake Nokomis, one of the most popular lakes in Minneapolis. The neighborhood boundaries include:
- Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on the south and east
- I-35W on the west,
- E 42nd Street to the North
A Quick History of the Nokomis Neighborhood
Even though the Nokomis neighborhood is one of the oldest in Minneapolis, it’s been known by different names throughout its history. Some of the first recorded Euroamerican settlers’ notes of the area in 1819 include references to Lake Amelia, named in honor of the daughter of a military captain stationed near Fort Snelling.
The City of Minneapolis purchased the land around the lake in 1907; shortly after, the city added it to the Chain of Lakes park system, renaming it Nokomis. By the 1930s, the neighborhood around the lake became one of the most vibrant throughout the city.
Currently, around 37,000 Minneapolis residents call the tree-lined residential area home. Nokomis is one of the city’s larger areas and comprises several smaller neighborhood associations, including Keewaydin, Minnehaha, Morris Park, and Wenonah.
What does Nokomis mean?
The word Nokomis has Ojibwe origins, meaning “my grandmother.” In traditional Ojibwe stories, Nokomis was the name of Nanabozho’s (a famous trickster/shapeshifter figure) wise old grandmother. Nokomis was also the name of Hiawatha’s grandmother in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem The Song of Hiawatha, a retelling of the Nanabozho stories.
Nokomis Neighborhood Attractions
Lake Nokomis & Nokomis Park
It wouldn’t be called the Nokomis neighborhood without the main attraction of Lake Nokomis. One of the largest in the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, Nokomis covers over 200 acres. Two paths circle the entire lake for biking and walking, and it’s a popular spot for fishing, swimming, paddling, and sailing.
Nokomis is home to plenty of events and festivals throughout the year. Take advantage of the Lifetime triathlon and Aquatennial activities in July, and the U.S. Pond Hockey Tournament held on the frozen lake each year in January.
Arguably one of the most popular attractions in all of the Twin Cities, Minnehaha Falls is a highlight of the Nokomis East area of the neighborhood. At 53 feet, it’s one of our 10 Minnesota Waterfalls You Have to See, and an all-around favorite of the locals. Spend time hiking the trails, listening to local music in the bandshell, or enjoying the 170 acres of park space.
Local Tip: If you visit in winter, make sure to see the frozen falls. If it’s cold enough, the falls form an ice cave that’s just as impressive.
The watershed that forms Minnehaha Falls flows through the entire Nokomis neighborhood and is another point of interest worth checking out. Start near the Lake Nokomis Pier at the intersection of East Lake Nokomis and Minnehaha Parkways.
From there, it’s possible to take the walking/bike path west through the entire neighborhood until it crosses Interstate 35W. You’ll see some of the best homes in Nokomis and experience some of the best urban greenspaces in the Metro.
Located on the northwestern corner of Minnehaha Park, Longfellow Gardens was first established in the early 1900s as Longfellow Zoological Gardens, one of the city’s first zoo and botanical areas.
The park has a long history as a public green space in the city and today is home to native plants, sustainable gardens, and the offices of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation.
Built as an Art Deco theater in the 1930’s Parkway on Chicago Avenue is now a popular live music and theater venue in the heart of the Nokomis neighborhood. The locals lovingly know the Parkway for their classic and throwback movies, which often feature pre-movie live music from Twin Cities bands.
Restaurants and Bars
Twin Cities locals and friends have so many choices now to try the iconic Juicy Lucy burger. While we won’t get into the showdown about who was first to introduce the bun-cheese-pattie-bun combo to the world, we do know the 5-8 Club is one of the Twin Cities bars that lay that claim. It’s also the one spot to find the Juicy in the Nokomis neighborhood.
BaGu Shushi & Thai
Located just north on Chicago Avenue from the Parkway Theater, BaGu is the neighborhood spot for Japanese and Thai takeout. The restaurant is tiny (think 8-10 tables tops), but the takeout sushi and Thai menu are the best in the neighborhood.
While the 5-8 Club may claim to be the neighborhood’s spot for a Juicy Lucy, the best burger in South Minneapolis might be found at Bull’s Horn. Along with the burgers, this retro, laid-back bar also serves a bucket of dill pickle fried chicken that should find its way onto everyone’s table.
Located on 50th and 34th, Casa Maria is one of those little neighborhood restaurants the locals like to keep a secret. The tables here are cozy, and the to-go menu features some of the best street tacos off Lake Street.
Creekside Supper Club & Lounge
Special occasion-worthy spot off Chicago and 48th. We did a full review of the restaurant shortly after it opened in December 2021 with promises of a classic Wisconsin supper club vibe.
Dominguez Family Restaurant
Since 2006, the Dominguez Family Restaurant has embodied everything neighborhood ‘hole-in-the-wall’ we love about an authentic Mexican restaurant. Expect plenty of chips and salsa, fast service, and all the jumbo combo platters you’d ever need.
Fat Lorenzo’s has made a name for itself as the closest pizza place to MSP airport. It’s a popular ‘last minute stop’ before catching a flight and, in the past, has topped lists for the best pizza in the nation.
Grande Sunrise Mexican Seafood
The spot you’ll find us for a $7 happy hour margarita on the patio. Located in Nokomis East near the Morris Park section of the neighborhood, you’ll find street tacos, seafood entrees, and a bright, festive vibe.
Guavas Cuban Cafe
The Twin Cities isn’t well known for its authentic Cuban food, but one of the better options you’ll find is Guavas Cuban Cafe on 56th and Chicago. Open at 8 AM for full breakfast and serving dinner until 9 PM, Guava’s has a lovely patio out front and a paella that gets rave reviews.
When you need a mimosa (or three), find a spot for brunch at Heather’s on 52nd and Chicago. The rotating menu here features breakfast until 2 PM and burgers anytime. In addition, there’s a sprinkling of vegan options and a weekend brunch special that’s popular with the Nokomis locals.
Herbie Butcher’s Fried Chicken
Although the folks at The Herbivorous Butcher have become a household name around the Twin Cities, many aren’t aware that the same team also owns a vegan fried chicken restaurant in the Nokomis neighborhood. The seitan-based bucket of fried goodness is top-notch and one of our best spots for fried chicken in the Twin Cities.
With more than 1400 5-Star reviews on Google, you know that Hot Plate has to be doing something right. A neighborhood breakfast and lunch spot with plenty of vintage, funky vibes. Need we say more than the walls are covered in paint-by-numbers? There’s also a rack of old-school Nintendo Gameboys you can bring back to the table while you wait for your warm caramel pecan roll.
ie Italian Eatery
Hands down one of the top Italian restaurants in Minneapolis, we’ll be the first to rave about everything ie Italian Eatery does right. Terrific summer patio, cavatelli and baked garganelli worth of date night, and an Old Fashioned called The Cedar that is a neighborhood favorite.
Next door to Turtle Bread Company, Pizza Biga serves fresh Neopolitan-style pizza on Chicago and 48th. We love a date night that includes the Bianca pizza, followed by ice cream at Pumphouse across the street.
The Sidecar at the Tap
The Town Hall Tap at 48th and Chicago is a sister restaurant to Town Hall Brewery on Washington Avenue. They serve all the burgers, bar fare, and sandwiches you need, along with all the Town Hall brews.
Fast casual service 5 minutes from the airport, it’s hands down the best down-and-dirty option to grab before a flight. Brisket tacos, brick oven pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches it’s quick but still a better choice than chain store fare. One of our 10 Best Restaurants near MSP.
Town Hall Lanes
The only bowling option in the Nokomis neighborhood, Town Hall Lanes, is one of our picks for the best bowling alleys in Minneapolis. However, if pins aren’t your thing, there’s a fantastic menu of craft beers from sister pub Town Hall Brewery at this spot on 34th and 50th.
Turtle Bread Company
One of the long-standing Nokomis favorites, Turtle Bread on 48th and Chicago, is a South Minneapolis icon. If you choose only one spot in the neighborhood to try during your visit, we recommend this popular spot for pizza, pastries, and pie. It’s one part French bistro, one part Italian cafe, and always a place where all are welcome.
From the same creators of nearby ie-Italian Eatery, the tiny 400 square foot sister restaurant Un dito is just down the street. Serving Sicilian street food, their menu promises ‘sip and snacks’ perfect for an afternoon lunch or tapas-style dinner.
Coffee Shops and Bakery
Located on 42nd Street and South 28th Avenue near the northeastern corner of Lake Hiawatha, A Baker’s Wife is the Minneapolis hot spot for all things classic bakery, including some of the best donuts. Expect a line out the door on weekends and a steady stream of white donut boxes heading out the door. It’s also one of our top spots for ordering a birthday cake in the Metro.
Berry Sweet Kitchen
The cases of made-from-scratch bread, pastries, and cakes at Berry Sweet Kitchen frequently don’t make it to the 2 PM close time at this diner-style cafe on the corner of 54th and 34th. Start with the chilaquiles and finish with a fresh fruit tart or cupcake of the day.
Mel-O-Glaze Bakery has served fresh pastries since the 1950s on 28th and Minnehaha Parkway. Every time we drive past and see their advertisement for donut holes as “legal crack balls,” we get a good laugh.
Nokomis Beach Coffee
Located on 50th and 28th near Little Beach, this cozy spot for coffee, sandwiches, and waffles is a popular neighborhood patio spot. Open at 6:30 AM on weekdays, it’s one of the first cups of coffee you can grab anywhere in Nokomis.
Plenty of cabin and adventure vibes to go around at Northern Coffeeworks. Their ample space on 42nd and 28th near A Baker’s Wife is popular for daytime work meetings or grabbing a coffee to go and donut next door.
Rick’s Coffee Bar
Located in Nokomis East, Rick Coffee Bar is a no-frills place to grab a good cup of coffee and directly support local veterans. Named after Rick Gustafson, a Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force, every purchase supports the Veteran’s Training Center, housed at the coffee bar.
Sift Gluten Free
Finding a dedicated gluten-free bakery that also pumps out top-notch donuts is a challenging feat. You’ll find all things gluten-free on Sift’s full-service corner bakery and coffee shop menu on Bloomington Avenue and East 46th Street. Many of their menu items are dairy, nut, and allergen-free.
Twin Cities moms and dads know Sovereign Grounds as the beloved place where it’s still possible to have a steaming hot cup of coffee and good coffee shop conversation while entertaining the kids. Located on 48th and Chicago, the coffee shop features an indoor toddler-friendly play space and classic roasting recipes that have made this the neighborhood favorite.
Venn Brewing Company
We love a neighborhood spot where the coffee starts at 8 AM, and the beer begins flowing shortly after. You’ll find a full lineup of espresso and drip coffee options at this part coffee shop, part taproom combo on 46th and Hiawatha.
Ice Cream & Treats
Grand Ole Creamery
Minnesota’s first and longest-operating traditional hard scoop ice cream parlor located on Cedar Avenue and Minnehaha Parkway. Here you’ll find all the classic favorites (they serve more than 200 flavors in the rotating menu!) Locals ask for the kids’ cone; it comes topped with a malted milk ball.
Located on Chicago and 48th Street near the Parkway Theater, Pumphouse serves homemade non-dairy ice cream with locally sourced, organic ingredients. The shop has been open for over 20 years and partners with Twin Cities farmers like Autumnwood and Svihel Vegetable Farm.
Tom’s Popcorn Shop
Tom’s Popcorn Shop ‘popped’ up in the Nokomis neighborhood in 1971 on the corner of 47th and Cedar Avenue and hasn’t looked back. For more than 50 years, locals have stopped in for fresh fire-popped popcorn in flavors like Buttery White, Caramel, Krunch Corn, and Cheddar Cheese.
The neighborhood hot spot for picking up a hostess gift on the way or wrapping up holiday shopping for the hardest-to-find on your list. Their greeting card selection and unique jewelry are what the team at 14 Hill is best known for.
Cork Dork Wine Co
The Nokomis neighborhood wine store. 400+ square feet off Cedar Avenue, full of unpretentious and perfectly curated wine and local beer. You won’t find fancy furnishings or a glammed-up hostess here. But you will find a great selection, affordable prices, and a friendly face willing to help.
The Irreverent Bookworm on 52nd and Bloomington has appeared on our list of Best Local and Independent Bookstores in Minneapolis for several years, partly because it’s such a great place to hang out with a great book. One of the coziest spots in the neighborhood!
Jenny in the City
While there aren’t a ton of local women’s clothing boutiques in South Minneapolis, there is Jenny in the City. You may recognize their “Be a Kind Human” t-shirts from social media, as well as a wide range of casual clothes, denim, and accessories. They also have a unique line of Twin Cities clothing and accessories if you’d like to fit in with the locals.
Nokomis Shoe Shop
One of the longest-running retailers in the Nokomis neighborhood, the Nokomis Shoe Shop has helped shoppers find the perfect pair of kicks since 1931. A top spot for work boots, snow treads, and hiking clothes, you’ll right away notice the knowledge and dedication to finding each customer the right shoes. It’s the kind of customer service that has kept this shoe store running for over 80 years.
Cake Plus-Size Resale
When founder Cat Polivoda opened Cake in Minneapolis, the goal was to create a space that not only fostered an inclusive shopping space but also included less fat-shaming and more body positivity. It so happens that the resale shop is also kinder to the planet. Shoppers here will find a range of on-trend clothes, shoes, and accessories on consignment sizes XL or larger.
Other Chain Restaurants and Retailers
While you won’t find a large selection of chain restaurants and retailers in the Nokomis neighborhood, there are a few Twin Cities favorites worth noting:
- Carbone’s Pizzeria
- Caribou Coffee
- Dunn Brother’s Coffee
- Lunds & Byerly’s
- Kowalski’s Market
- Pizza Hut