This post is sponsored by the On the Green Line marketing campaign.
Diverse, vibrant, and densely populated, the historic West Bank district of Minneapolis (also known as Cedar-Riverside) is rich with culture, as reflected in its many theaters, music clubs, shops, and restaurants. The West Bank’s boundaries include the Mississippi River to the north and east, Interstate 94 to the south, and Hiawatha Avenue and Interstate 35W to the west.
The West Bank includes a significant college-age population, since it is home to the University of Minnesota’s West Bank campus, Augsburg College, and the University of St. Catherine’s Minneapolis campus. The area is also home to a flourishing arts community, including the University of Minnesota West Bank Arts Quarter, a major hospital, and two striking high-rise apartment complexes with more than 1,800 units, combined: Riverside Plaza and The Cedars.
Traditionally, the West Bank has welcomed some of the largest communities of immigrants in Minneapolis. A century ago, the area was dense with natives of Sweden; today, the community includes a substantial number of residents from East Africa, whose presence is reflected in multiple African-themed businesses and restaurants in the area.
“With great live music and theater every day of the week, an amazing arts community, and fantastic restaurants, the West Bank is a regular destination of choice for students, faculty, downtown professionals, and Twin Cities residents,” said Jamie Schumacher, executive director of the West Bank Business Association. “The West Bank has an incredible vibe and energy.”
West Bank Featured Restaurants
Republic (221 Cedar Ave. S.) was just named one of America’s 100 Best Beer Bars for 2013 by Draft Magazine, in recognition of the pub’s 56 beers on tap, including hard-to-find selections from America, Belgium, and Germany. Republic’s food offerings are equally stellar. Unlike the frozen / heated fare found at many bars, everything at Republic is made from scratch (even the ketchup!), using real ingredients sourced from local suppliers. And amazingly, practically everything on the menu is around $10 or less. Favorites include a cheddar and bacon grass-fed beef burger, featuring cheese from Wisconsin’s Widmer Cheese Cellars and bacon from Minnesota’s Fischer Family Farms. A tasty smoked trout salad with wild rice and pickled beets features fish from Wisconsin’s Star Prairie Trout Farm. Republic’s homemade soup (selection changes daily) or homemade chili make a perfect hot meal for a cool day.
Acadia Cafe (329 Cedar Ave. S.) features live local music nightly, has some of the best sandwiches in town, and offers a great happy hour Monday through Friday. Friendly and cozy, Acadia is popular with college students and faculty. One of Acadia’s most popular sandwiches is the black bean burger, covered in pepper jack cheese with jalapenos, with a side of homemade hand-cut fries. Regulars to Acadia swear by the vegan veggie sandwich, featuring a mound of raw bell peppers, cucumbers, onions, lettuce and tomatoes piled onto multigrain bread, and served with homemade hummus and guacamole. Even the desserts, particularly the chocolate chunk cookies, are delicious and satisfying. Beer fans flock to Acadia for its diverse and high-quality on-tap selection, including many local beers, and its money-saving happy hours.
Malabari Kitchen (414 1/2 Cedar Ave. S.) is one of the West Bank’s newest restaurants, and it delivers the tantalizing flavors of India’s southwest coastal region of Malabar to Twin Cities palates with amazing results. Fans of biryani will enjoy Malabari’s handmade take on this popular rice-based dish, available with marinated chicken, mutton, or fish. The delicious fragrant spiced rice and meat is served with sides of mango chutney, hot pepper paste, and fresh raita. House specialties include palappam — a large, slightly sweet pancake of fermented bread — and idi appam — steamed rice noodles; both are served with your choice of a satisfying potato stew or flavorful egg curry. During or after dinner, try the chai tea, regarded by many as the best in town.
Wienery (414 Cedar Ave. S.), a family-owned diner serving breakfast all day, sandwiches, and, of course, hot dogs and sausages, offers the quintessential West Bank experience. Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and regularly voted “Best Hot Dog” restaurant in City Pages, the Wienery specializes in delivering fast, affordable, tasty fare. Vienna Beef hot dogs and sausages, as well as a tofu dog and a vegetarian Italian sausage, are available prepared more than 15 ways, including the traditional Chicago style (with relish, onion tomato, pickle, and celery salt). One of the most popular sandwiches is the Italian Combo, a spicy Italian sausage piled high with cooked Italian roast beef. Note: The Wienery is cash only.
Afro Deli & Coffee (1939 5th St. S.) is a relatively new restaurant, owned and operated by a family originally from Somalia, specializing in delivering great food at inexpensive prices. All of Afro’s food is prepared Halal and made fresh to order. Diners love Afro’s sambusas (top), deep-fried pastry shells stuffed with your choice of beef, chicken, or vegetables and served with a dipping sauce. Another hit is the Afro Asian chicken suqaar, made of chicken and vegetables sauteed with African spices and Korean sauce and served with rice. Also popular is the Somali steak sandwich, comprised of thin-sliced beef sauteed with African spices, Swiss cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and mayonnaise on focaccia bread.
More information about the West Bank and other restaurants in this area can be found on the On the Green Line website.