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Hidden Gem Restaurants & Bars in Minneapolis

a sign in front of a brick building

How well do you know Minneapolis?

Even if your answer is “Well,” you may not be familiar with everything this vibrant city has to offer. That’s because, for every famed and celebrated establishment in the City of Lakes, there’s a lesser known counterpart hiding in plain sight. 

Often blending into nondescript storefronts and buildings, these restaurants and bars are cloaked in ordinary aesthetics, but offer extraordinary experiences. From tiny breakfast counters to diverse food halls to repurposed gas stations, these little treasures make up the true flavor of the city. 

Here are some of the best hidden gem restaurants in Minneapolis:

Hole in the Wall Breakfast 

Since fully committing to breakfast fare in 1961, Al’s Breakfast has gained a cult-like following. This Dinkytown eatery may be overlooked by most passersby, mainly because it has a miniscule footprint. Crammed between two buildings in a former alleyway, Al’s holds just 14 guests! If you’re lucky enough to snag one of the stools at the counter, you’ll enjoy a delightful selection of egg scrambles, omelets, pancakes, waffles and more — all made from scratch! 

It’s an experience many are willing to wait for, with a line that often stretches out the door. Show up between the hours of 6 a.m. and 1 p.m., and you’ll be guaranteed a chance to eat. Join the line at 1:01, and you’ll have to get your fix another day.

Lunch & Dinner Discovery at a Food Collective 

Sitting in the North Loop just a few blocks away from Target Field, there’s an entire food collective waiting to be discovered. Graze Provisions + Libations features a handful of independently owned and operated vendors, serving everything from low-country barbeque to Mexican-Vietnamese fusion to award-winning Hmong food.

Oh, and not to mention savory American food, fresh soul food and gourmet ice cream. Seriously, what doesn’t this place have?

It isn’t just about the food, either. Graze has two indoor/outdoor bars, a cafe and wine bar, and several outstanding patio areas tucked into the Minneapolis skyline. Visit to enjoy a mid-day coffee flight, watch the big game or kick back with a few friends.

A Lively Chicago-style Shack

Northeast Minneapolis has been totally revamped in recent years. Many of the old industrial buildings have been turned into trendy restaurants, breweries and businesses — complemented by a number of chic, new apartment complexes. 

One of the few holdovers from the old neighborhood: Uncle Franky’s, serving flavorful Chicago-style hot dogs and hamburgers. Pass by Uncle Franky’s on Broadway Street and you may think nothing of it. But, walk through the doors and you’re sure to have a memorable experience from start to finish.

You’ll be met with a long counter, a small, bustling dining room, and a lively staff — never afraid to advise you on what to order. Uncle Franky’s features a colorful crowd of regulars, often drawn to the spirited atmosphere as much as the food. But, the menu won’t disappoint either, with a large variety of dogs, flattop-cooked burgers, Italian beef sandwiches and more.

Off the Beaten Path Deli

Nestled off Stinson Boulevard in Northeast Minneapolis, you may have driven by Zakia Deli without realizing it while making your way toward 35W or Broadway. But, next time you’re in the area, you may want to slow down and give it a try. Many locals claim this spot serves the best Mediterranean food in the entire Twin Cities! 

Since 2007, Zakia Deli has offered a variety of traditional Lebanese and American dishes. Enjoy Hot Daily Specials Monday through Saturday, or a selection of mouthwatering sandwiches, breakfast food, salads, sides, dips and even desserts. 

A Hidden Bar, Literally

What goes together better than speakeasies and the ‘20s? Nothing!

Sure, it may be the 21st century, with prohibition long gone, but don’t tell Volstead’s Emporium

The entrance to this Minneapolis gem is quite literally “hidden,” giving it especially cool vibes. This hard-to-find bar is the perfect place to host intimate parties, enjoy quaint music shows, or just hang out with your buddies. It offers an old-timey atmosphere with wine, beer, classic cocktails and even surprisingly delicious entrees and desserts!

Want even more reason to stop by? Volstead’s offers a Jazz Brunch with scrumptious Cinnamon Brioche French Toast, Peel & Eat Shrimp, House Quick and more. Oh, and live jazz music, of course!

1920s Shell Gas Station Turned Cafe

How could Victor's 1959 Café, with all its exciting Cuban flair, quality as “hidden?” Maybe because this hip restaurant was once a tiny little gas station!

Sure, with its colorful exterior and inviting front patio, it doesn’t look much like a gas station these days. But when it was constructed in the 1920s, it served as a Shell station, and later a Dairy Queen — where locals would gather around to hang out.

Victor’s has managed to keep this tradition alive, becoming an important part of the local community. Patrons can enjoy a variety of fun coffee drinks, flavorful Cuban breakfast foods, traditional appetizers, entrees, desserts and more. Whatever you order, it’s sure to be made — and served with — lots of love. It’s a little piece of Cuba in South Minneapolis. 

Uncover These Hidden Gems Today

Don’t just read about these amazing local businesses, go explore them for yourself! It may be a little easier to settle for cookie-cutter chain restaurants, or even the well-known local establishments. But the real heartbeat of Minneapolis is found in the hidden gems that keep the surrounding neighborhood — and those in the know — coming back time and time again.