Among all the places in the Twin Cities, there are few to none which can be compared with Minneapolis’ Midtown Global Market. Located on East Lake Street in south Minneapolis, Midtown Global Market offers a vast array of foods ranging all the way from Hispanic to Caribbean to African to Middle Eastern to Asian and back. In addition to hot and prepared food, there are many small shops and stalls which sell spices, normally hard to find ingredients, canned goods, frozen goods, baked goods, cheeses, and handmade crafts. On occasion, musicians add their own “spice” to the market by performing at the center. A visit to the market is a must for anyone living in the Twin Cities.
Midtown Global Market has quite a few shops and stalls, so we won’t attempt to review the entire place in minute detail here. Rather, we’ll give a general overview of the market, with a few specific examples of what’s inside.
Near the southeast corner of the market is a store, Cosecha Imports, specializing in Hispanic items. Among their inventory is a HUGE selection of dried peppers, dried herbs, and whole and ground spices (see picture below).
The market is peppered with several stalls like these offering spices and the elusive secret ingredients for cooking ethnic foods. In addition to these, there is a stall offering all sorts of cheeses, and not far from it is a stall specializing in Swedish sweets and other items. There are many more places inside, and only a visit (or two … or more) to the market can do it justice.
Jane and I both agree that the best place we’ve eaten at in the market so far has been Safari Express. We stared at all the mouth watering food through the display glass for quite some time before we finally came to a decision of what to order. We finally decided upon the mango chicken curry with the red-orange looking rice dish, which I think they claimed was a biryani.
Biryani or not, the rice dish was very good and quite spicy too, but the mango chicken curry stole the show. The mango chicken curry was savory, sweet, and delicious. The flavors of the chicken, vegetables, and curry sauce formed a well-blended basket of tastes delightful to the senses.
We will definitely return to Safari Express to try more food in the future. In fact, the next time we go, we may already know exactly what we will order. We are very excited to try their highly touted camel burger — yes, made from real camel meat. Rumor has it that they hold nothing back for the state fair and offer camel on a stick as well (no kidding). The rumor on the internets is that their camel meat is very healthy, life prolonging, and farmed in Australia.
Holy Land Deli & Bakery is another popular place in the market, offering foods from the Middle East. Holy Land has a store in the market selling spices, rice, canned foods, frozen foods, hummus, breads, and more. Right next to the store is a large buffet of theirs, where you can purchase a buffet box (of which the medium sized box for $7.99 is probably the best deal) and load up on all sorts of Middle Eastern treats. Our buffet box was loaded up with all kinds of goodies including falafel, hummus, tahini, baba ghanoush, tabouli, rice, lamb with grilled onions, some fresh cucumbers, and what looked like tandoori chicken along with an almond cake/cookie/crust dessert.
The food was quite good, but one thing we had to ask ourselves was how Safari Express and Holy Land compare with each other. We decided that if the goal is quantity, Holy Land hits a home run. However, if the goal is quality, Safari Express hits a grand slam.
After eating two boxes of food, we were pretty full, but we couldn’t let ourselves leave without a dessert of some kind. We decided on something light due to all the food we ate, and ordered a taro flavored bubble tea from one of the Asian places in the market. Much to our surprise, we received a shake instead of a tea and realized that this particular place makes only what they call “bubble tea shakes”.
Nevertheless, we marveled at the tapioca pearls, which were much softer and far superior to those of which you would find from The Tea Garden. And in the end, we slurped down the cold, icy shake before heading out to the mountainous snowbanks next to the bus stop.
Parking and Transportation: Midtown Global Market is located at 920 East Lake Street in Minneapolis. A large parking ramp is next to the building and parking can be validated with any purchase (no minimum purchase required … for more details see here). If you plan on taking public transportation, Metrotransit’s bus 21 makes a stop at the market. One possible hang-up with this is if you are heading home from the market in the St. Paul direction and need to get off at or continue past the University and Snelling stop, you must ride the 21A.
Verdict: The verdict on Midtown Global Market is guilty as charged. Midtown Global Market has been charged with having all sorts of amazing dishes that beg you to return, amazing looking cheeses which we want to try, and elusive ingredients for making ethnic food. It’s a win for sure.