Located just south of downtown Minneapolis, Uptown is one of the Twin Cities’ most unique neighborhoods.
In this post, we’re sharing everything you need to know about Uptown, from it’s rich history to all the best restaurants, bars, shops, and things to do!
- Where is “Uptown” in Minneapolis?
- History of Uptown
- Uptown Attractions
- Restaurants and Bars
- Coffee Shops & Bakery Hot-Spots
- Ice Cream
- Other Retailers
Where is “Uptown” in Minneapolis?
Uptown, Minneapolis is centered at the intersection of Hennepin and Lagoon Avenues, about 3 miles south of downtown.
Uptown’s boundaries have shifted over the years, as new business and development changed the characteristics of the neighborhood. But in general, the commercial district stretches from Bde Maka Ska to the west, 31st Street to the south, 28th Street to the north, and Dupont Avenue to the east.
It’s one of the most well-known retail, nightlife, and residential areas in all of Minneapolis!
History of Uptown
Uptown has been a vibrant part of Minneapolis for more than 140 years. For many of the same reasons as today, residents and visitors flocked to the quieter and scenic Lakes Area beginning in the 1880s. Escaping the noise and grit of downtown, streetcars shuttled people to the new hotels, inns, and recreation businesses booming in the area.
During the 1920s, Minneapolis continued to expand south, with a new business district centered at the intersection of Hennepin Avenue and Lagoon Avenue. There, the famous Lagoon Theater was first built (later burned down in 1939 and rebuilt again).
Why is it called Uptown?
Ths is one of the most common questions asked about Uptown since, in reality, it’s actually south of the downtown Minneapolis business district.
However, historians believed that the neighborhood got its name from local business leaders and the Minneapolis Tribune, who were looking to emulate the success of Chicago’s Uptown District. (One of the most vibrant entertainment districts in the United States in the early 20th Century.)
Uptown and Prince
Uptown really came on the map in 1980, when Minnesota legend Prince released his famous song “Uptown,” the lead single on the album Dirty Mind.
Lyrics describe how millions of Twin Cities locals have felt about the neighborhood over the years:
Oh, oh, yeah
Everybody’s going, everybody’s going
Everybody gotta gotta uptown
Now go-go-go, go-go-go uptown
Uptown’s Current Status
As of this writing, the Uptown neighborhood is undergoing another season of major changes to both the residential and business communities that call this area home. In 2020, Uptown became the global stage of the march for justice and the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd. The aftermath has left the neighborhood in transition between what once was and what is yet to come.
Many of the local bars, restaurants, and retailers have remained closed since then, or have relocated elsewhere around the Twin Cities. As we were preparing this guide, two more of the businesses we had featured on the list closed their doors.
The uncertainty, safety concerns, and the ongoing pandemic have left Uptown’s future in flux.
As one of the most popular Minneapolis neighborhoods, Uptown has plenty of unique attractions for locals and visitors alike.
A visit to Uptown should always start at the iconic Lagoon Cinema building. After all, the corner of Hennepin and Lagoon is what started it all. Although the future of the 1930’s era building is uncertain (the previous owners closed operations in June 2021), the building still stands as one of the most recognizable landmarks in the neighborhood and all of Minneapolis.
- Address: 1320 Lagoon Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Chain of Lakes
Best Lake in Minneapolis. Best Beach in Minneapolis. Best Place to Sail, Canoe, Kayak, or SUP in Minneapolis. If there’s an outdoor recreation spot in Minneapolis that tops them all, it’s the Chain of Lakes area in Uptown.
Millions of visitors each year take advantage of one of the best urban lake systems in the United States. It’s what Minnesota’s named for after all!
- Bde Mka Ska – 3000 East, W Bde Maka Ska Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55408
- Lake Harriet – 4612 E Lake Harriet Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55419
- Lake of the Isles – 2500 Lake of the Isles Pkwy E, Minneapolis, MN 55405
- Website: Minneapolis Parks and Recreation
Bryant Lake Bowl & Theater
What do you get when you mix one part bowling alley, one part live cabaret theater, and two parts bar and restaurant? The historic Bryant Lake Bowl (BLB by the locals).
For more than 25 years, the 8 lanes and 90 seat theater of this Uptown Minneapolis icon have been the go-to neighborhood spot. The lanes are vintage (don’t mind the slope!), but the staff and ambiance here are some of the best you’ll find in town.
- Address: 810 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
- Website: Bryant Lake Bowl
Magers & Quinn Booksellers
Another Uptown icon, Mager’s & Quinn Booksellers is the largest independent bookstore in Minneapolis and one of the best in town.
Mager’s arrived in Uptown in 1994, after current owner Denny Mager closed the University of Minnesota location and moved south to the now bustling retail area. The selection here is extensive, and we love that the daily browsing hours here run late, all the way to 10 PM. (We can’t be the only ones to finish a page-turner and need to squeeze in just before close to grab the next in the series!)
- Address: 3038 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408
- Website: Magers & Quinn
The first library in Uptown opened in 1911 and is one of the oldest-running in the city. While the current Walker location is not the original, it is still one of the landmarks in the neighborhood.
The library is named after T.B. Walker (1840-1928), a former Minneapolis Library Board president, art collector, and local businessman.
- Address: 2880 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408
- Website: Hennepin County Libraries – Walker
One of the more popular ways to get to Uptown and navigate the neighborhood is the Midtown Greenway.
Opened in 2005, the former railroad corridor sits just below street level one block north and parallel to Lake Street. The 5.5-mile trail has 2 bike lanes and a pedestrian walkway, connecting the Chain of Lakes area with the Mississippi River. Multiple bridges connect the greenway to the Uptown neighborhood above, including access along Lake of the Isle, Hennepin Avenue Transit Station, Bryant, and Lyndale Avenues.
- Website: Midtown Greenway Coalition
Restaurants and Bars
As mentioned above, many of the restaurants and bars were impacted by the 2020 civil unrest in Minneapolis. The status of many of these businesses continues to change on a weekly basis. Updates here will continue as the neighborhood changes, but may not in all cases reflect current hours or operations.
Too busy to sort through the options below? Check out our list of the 9 Best Restaurants in Uptown.
Amazing Thailand – Local favorite for authentic Thai food and some of the best take-out in the neighborhood. The locals also love the signature cocktails here; the Thai Ginger Lemonade and Lychee Martini are two flavors you won’t find anywhere else in the Twin Cities.
Barbette – Frequently named the best French restaurant in town, Barbette has been an Uptown star for decades. The menu here is full of local farmers and seasonal options. A great place to cozy up for a glass of wine in February and watch the snowfall outside.
Brim – Located at the corner of Lake Street and Knox Avenue, Brim offers a vegetable-forward menu of fresh and local options with some amazing views of Bde Maka Ska. The biodynamic wine menu here is worth stopping in for.
India Palace – One of four Twin Cities locations, India Palace offers the best Indian food in the Uptown neighborhood. Large menu with all the traditional favorites for dine-in and takeout.
The Fremont Restaurant & Bar – Located at the corner for Fremont and Lagoon Avenues, the Fremont is a popular spot in the neighborhood to catch the game with burgers and beers. Pre-COVID, you’d also find a packed dance floor and late-night DJ on most weekends.
Kiku Bistro – Uptown has plenty of sushi options to choose from, including Kiku located at 28th and Hennepin. One of the largest menus, you’ll find unique sushi and sashimi options at decent prices.
Lake and Irving Bar & Restaurant – If you’re not careful, it’s easy to walk right past Lake and Irving. But it’s so, so worth it when you stop. Both friendly to foodies and to the casual diner, the patio here is one of the better options in the neighborhood. Try the Buttermilk Fried Chicken and the KFC (Korean Fried Cauliflower) – two of our personal favorites.
Moto-I – Located in the northeast corner of the neighborhood at 29th and Lake Street, Moto-I has offered craft sake, sushi, and Japanese noodles for more than a decade.
Nightingale – Small plates for sharing. Cocktails for sipping. Nightingale has everything you need for a cozy evening of long conversation and good food.
Origami – Our favorite sushi spot in Uptown and a great happy hour destination. Origami has two levels of dining and one of the best patios in the neighborhood. The sushi here is ultra-fresh and high quality.
The Pourhouse – For those seeking the nightlife in Uptown, definitely consider adding The Pourhouse to the list. Late-night grub, bottle service, and a rolling list of entertainment make this a top party spot in the neighborhood.
SotaRoll – How Minnesota does sushi – one part flannel and one part super fast Asian fusion. SotaRoll is also home to one of Minneapolis’s most popular sushi burritos.
Sooki & Mimi – Recently named one of the New York Times restaurants to watch, Sooki and Mimi has exploded onto the restaurant scene this year. Upscale pre-fixe menu and great ambiance.
Stella’s Fish Cafe – An Uptown mainstay, Stella’s patio is a summertime bucket list item for many locals. The bustling crowd here is evidence that fresh oysters on the rooftop never go out of style.
Troubadour Wine Bar – The generous staff at Troubadour promise “The atmosphere is so relaxed you’ll forget about the essence of time.” While we can’t promise that, we can say that their extensive selection of wine by the bottle or glass, nightly live music, and yummy menu makes this one of the best wine bars in town.
Uptown Diner – It’s no surprise that one of the most popular diners in town would be the namesake diner for one of the most popular neighborhoods. The burgers here bring in the locals and famous friends alike.
World Street Kitchen – The menu at World Street Kitchen floats in that delicious space somewhere between brilliant and perfect. We can’t gush enough about it and it’s by far our favorite restaurant in Uptown. A must-try.
Coffee Shops & Bakery Hot-Spots
Common Roots Cafe – Located at Lyndale and W 26th just north of the heart of Uptown, Common Roots is a popular made-from-scratch breakfast spot with a great cup of coffee. You’ll find local, organic, and fair trade items across the menu and plenty of comfort food choices.
French Meadow Cafe & Bakery – French Meadow opened its first location in 1985 as the first certified organic bread bakery in the United States. For decades they’ve been a Twin Cities and Uptown staple for a great cup of coffee and a fresh-baked treat.
Grey Fox Coffee – Popular first among the downtown skyway crowd, Grey Fox opened its Lake Street location to great applause. The lattes and smoothie bowls here are both gorgeously crafted (you’ll want to dish all about it on Instagram) and tasty (you’ll want to try them all!)
Isles Bun and Coffee – Another one of our best spots in the neighborhood, the sweets at Isles Bun and Coffee on W 28th Street are divine. Don’t miss the caramel rolls and the puppy dog tails.
People’s Organic – With multiple Twin Cities locations, People’s Organic has gained a reputation among locals for offering simple, nutritious, and healthy options that are good for the planet. Stop in for morning coffee and come back for a local beer or sustainable wine.
Uncommon Grounds – Best chai in town? Quite possibly the best we’ve ever had. It’s the Twin Cities oldest coffeehouse and located in a Victorian home built in 1877. Hip, unique, and one of the best of the Twin Cities.
La La Homemade Ice Cream – Located at 32nd and Hennepin Avenue, La La Homemade Ice Cream is a great spot to stop on the way to a walk around Bde Maka Ska. The traditional ice cream shop has 16 regular flavors on the menu, along with a mix of lunch counter items.
Milk Jam Creamery – Hands down, Milk Jam is the peanut butter to our jelly. The Sonny to our Cher. Right next door to World Street Kitchen, it’s impossible to go away unsatisfied. We could find more words to describe it, but just think everyone should experience it for themselves. One of the best ice cream shops in the Twin Cities.
Seven Points – The Calhoun crown has adorned the corner of Hennepin Avenue and West Lake Street for more than 30 years. Sitting atop the primary shopping center in the neighborhood, this landmark has been home to a variety of retailers since its opening in 1984. In October 2020, its name changed from Calhoun Square to Seven Points as Bde Maka Ska became the new neighbor down the road. Current tenets include H&M, Kitchen Window, and CB2.
Kitchen Window – Longtime neighborhood resident, Kitchen Window started as a 1,200 square foot store when Calhoun Square first opened. They’ve grown now to more than 20,000 square feet of high-end housewares, cooking classes, gourmet things to snack on, and all-things culinary.
Patina – Anytime we’re in need of a gift for that extra-hard person to shop for, we stop in at Patina. One of the 9 different locations in the Twin Cities, the eclectic mix of gifts, jewelry, and decor here always makes us smile (and finish even the trickiest of gift lists!)
ROAM Furniture – Locally-owned boutique furniture, lighting, and accessories in the heart of Uptown. ROAM has made a name for itself in the Twin Cities as a premier spot for modern decor.
- Cub Foods
- Crate & Barrel
- Frattalone’s Ace Hardware
- Lunds & Byerly’s
- Whole Foods