You know that good feeling that comes when you support an organization that’s doing great work in your community? Now just imagine that the organization is also doing great work in the kitchen, and the best way for you to support them is to eat their food. That, in a nutshell, is Breaking Bread Cafe in North Minneapolis.
The cafe, which turned one year old on April 29, is at its heart a youth development program that hires local, at-risk youth (ages 14-24) and gives them training in culinary arts and food service management at both the restaurant and a related catering service. It’s part of a larger organization called Appetite for Change, which uses food as a tool for change by supporting local cooking workshops, urban agriculture, and a community professional kitchen for small food businesses to use to get off the ground. The cafe itself has a community feel, with long tables set out to bring diners together in a bright, cheerful space.
The mission is impressive, but once we were served, we forgot about the good work being done because the food was highly distracting, in the best possible way.
Chef Lachelle Cunningham has been cooking since she was a child, and even when pursuing a career in event planning found herself returning to the kitchen. The cafe’s menu is a solid mix of standard items, such as omelets, egg sandwiches, and Reubens. But it also has a nice representation of Southern soul-food staples, and that’s what we turned to on a recent visit.
From the breakfast menu, we ordered the Jerk Shrimp & Cheese Grits ($7.50). The shrimp was mild in terms of heat, but had plenty of flavor. The grits were perfect — buttery and rich — and one diner commented that she pretty much wanted to dive in and swim in them.
The lunch menu offers a Create a Meal option, where you choose from a variety of meats, sides, and salads. We went with the one meat, two sides option ($12) and ordered Buttermilk Fried Chicken Wings with collards and beans and rice. The chicken wings were exemplary, wonderfully crisp but not greasy, and hot and juicy on the inside. The collards were sauteed with tomatoes and onions and a bit of cayenne that gave off a little afterburn — again, like the shrimp, nothing too spicy, just a nice bit of heat that didn’t overwhelm the greens. The beans and rice were more delicately flavored, and everything was cooked to perfection.
Although we were basically full, a chalkboard over the cashier’s counter noted that Sweet Potato Pie ($2.50 per slice) was available, and we really did not feel right about leaving without trying it. Good decision on our part. The base was a homemade, tender crust, and the filling relied on the sweet potato, rather than a dousing of sugar, for flavor and sweetness. There was even a bit of potato texture in the filling.
So go do some good for your community and for yourself: Eat at Breaking Bread Cafe.
Breaking Bread Cafe
Soul food in North Minneapolis
1210 W Broadway Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55411
Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: No / No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Limited
ENTREE RANGE: $3-$12
NOISE LEVEL: Moderate
PARKING: Street parking