Margherita Pizza from Tommie’s. Photo by Holly Peterson
This month, Lavender thought it would be fun to highlight five of its all-time favorite Twin Cities Black-owned restaurants. Trust us, if there is any restaurant on this list that you have not yet been to, you are in for a treat. Strap in because we have something for everyone, whether you are craving something healthy, something greasy, something soul-foody, something with a side of coffee, or even some Jamaican fare.
Tommie’s Pizza is a hidden St. Paul gem. Located on Selby Ave in the Union Park neighborhood, this is the NY style pizza place you have been wishing you could find in the Twin Cities. The plain cheese pizza is perfect, the Buffalo Chicken is the only chicken pizza I have ever personally enjoyed, and The Very Veggie is everything you want in a veggie pizza. There is even a pizza (The Selby) that successfully incorporates sauerkraut into its toppings, which I think we can all agree is a feat.
Swing by for a slice or pick up a pizza with a side of wings (the Selby sauce is a must), but whatever you do, make sure that Tommie’s Pizza is at the top of your list for your next pizza night.
Wendy’s House of SOUL
Wendy’s House of SOUL has some of the best soul food in the Twin Cities. She slays all the classics: greens, mac and cheese, yams, corn bread, chicken and waffles. Every single soul food standard is cooked, baked, and boiled to perfection. However, if you’ve never been to Wendy’s House of SOUL before, you have to start with the SoulRoll, which is exactly what it sounds like: an eggroll filled with soul food.
Every SoulRoll has a perfect, crunchy exterior wrapped around one innovative flavor combination after another. There are fifteen SoulRolls to choose from, ranging from the Jive Turkey to the Marrmemac (there are three different kinds of mac and cheese scooped into that beauty) to the Nanny (greens, fried chicken, and mac and cheese). And if fifteen choices isn’t enough for you, you can even build your own.
Wendy’s House of SOUL has a lighter menu if that is more your style (the Lemon Pepper Chicken salad is a favorite of mine), but at this stage of winter, aren’t we all trying to carb up for warmth? Next time you find yourself in Near North, treat yourself to something deep fried at Wendy’s House of SOUL. You will be glad you did.
Golden Thyme Coffee and Cafe
Another St. Paul favorite is Golden Thyme Coffee and Cafe. This little treasure, also located on Selby Ave, is in the Summit Hill neighborhood. This joint’s robust breakfast menu and tasty coffees has made Golden Thyme one of my go-to coffee shops for close to a decade. Enjoy the never-ending jazz playlist over breakfast staples like grits, omelets, and loaded hash browns. Sip on an espresso drink given a nom de plume in honor of iconic jazz musicians like Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, and Duke Ellington. Golden Thyme changed locations just before COVID hit. If you haven’t seen it yet, you are sure to love the new decor, from the drum chandelier to the ceramics display, it’s a trendy, cozy spot.
Golden Thyme is one of St. Paul’s finest – we are confident that you will love it as much as we do.
Pimento Jamaican Kitchen
Pimento Jamaican Kitchen offers the best casual, Jamaican dining you will find in the Twin Cities. Located on Nicollet Avenue in the Whittier neighborhood, this restaurant features one knock out menu item after another. From creamy Curry Veggies to the One Love Special (a combo platter of jerk chicken and pork on a bed of rice and beans), everything on this menu is sure to delight. I am personally a huge sucker for the spicy, meat-filled patties and always kick myself for not ordering an extra side of plantains, which Pimento Jamaican Kitchen slathers in a mouth-watering vanilla glaze.
Pimento Jamaican Kitchen also has a fun selection of Jamaican sodas that are well worth ordering. My most recent soda was a pineapple ginger blend that was sweet and tangy and complemented my lunch perfectly. Next time the Minnesota cold starts to feel like it’s a little too much, bring a little sunshine into your life with a hearty meal from Pimento Jamaican Kitchen.
So that’s our list! Obviously we’ve barely scratched the surface of quality Black-owned restaurants here. Which of your favorites did we miss? Have you tried everything that made our list?
The Dripping Root
First on our list is a future favorite. The Dripping Root is set to be the coolest juice bar the Twin Cities has to offer. Conveniently located on Minnehaha Avenue in the Howe neighborhood, this cute, healthy spot is currently planning to open in May. The menu will include cold pressed juice, chia seed pudding, kombucha on tap – and some of the most beautiful smoothie bowls I have ever seen.
Pierson says that in creating The Dripping Root she is hoping to “break the lines between health, wellness & culture. To create a place of togetherness, of non-judgment, of creativity, of wellness, [and] of happiness.” She is well on her way to achieving that goal. Make sure you follow The Dripping Root on Facebook or Instagram for the official opening date!