Spring on East Lake Street

Statue of Emiliano Zapata on Lake Street

BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE

Where the action is (mostly) these days

Quietly, but there if you look for it, a lot of new places have come into being in the stretch of East Lake Street from Minnehaha Avenue to the Mississippi River. One big project that is not open yet (but with its preparation well underway) is the renovation and relaunch of the Coliseum building on the northeast corner of Lake and 27th Avenue. The last we heard, with renovation work nearing completion, the grand opening is planned to coincide with Juneteenth, as part of the Soul of the Southside Festival on June 19.
An interesting fact about the Coliseum’s reopening is that Du Nord Social Spirits’ Shanelle Montana is one of three women representing Black-owned small businesses (the other two are Alicia Belton and Janice Downing) who are collaborating with Redesign Inc. to design and manage the renovation. Also, once it’s complete, these three businesses will be both co-owners with Redesign and tenants, with Du Nord having a full-service restaurant and cocktail lounge on the ground floor of the building.
Another great new addition to Lake Street is a small but powerful music and theater venue called Cloudland Theater. They announced their presence in August, opened in November, and have already had scores of shows and events. Right now they’re having two to six events each week, and most of their music shows feature multiple artists. Check out their upcoming shows at cloudlandtheater.com or on Facebook or Instagram.

The Coliseum building renovation nearing completion

A lot of the eating establishments east of Minnehaha also have live music and other events from time to time, some quite regularly. Galapagos, an Ecuadorian restaurant with an intriguing menu, also hosts live music events. Urban Forage Winery & Cider House at 3016 E. Lake St. has frequent live music, trivia contests, and other entertainment, as well as renting out its space, complete with drink service, for private events. Merlin’s Rest has regularly scheduled music, usually some kind of Celtic traditional or modern, on Saturday nights (see event calendar at merlinsrest.com) and randomly at other times. They also have whisky tastings, pub trivia, and occasional sing-alongs. And west of Minnehaha, Midtown Global Market has live music almost every Saturday afternoon.
Next, we want to highlight a few service companies and nonprofits found along this corridor. Lift Garage is a wonderful concept that I am considering availing myself of if I qualify. They provide “lifeline” car repairs and service to low-income people. While the YWCA announced the closure of their downtown and Uptown fitness centers last fall, the Midtown YW at 2121 E. Lake St. is

Brad Lokkesmoe and Maren Macosko, founders of Cloudland Theater

still going strong. Their health and wellness programs include a fitness center with a gym and a pool, exercise classes both in-person and virtual, as well as child care, summer camps, and myriad activities for kids and adults alike.
The May Day Workers’ Center, located in the CWA Union Hall at 3521 E. Lake St., is a program of COPAL, which was launched in 2021. Its mission is to organize Latino workers and their families in South Minneapolis, to help them with a range of issues that Latino workers often face, and to build generational wealth.

Fun places to eat and drink, old and new

Lake Street remains a place to get good food. It is dominated by Mexican, Ecuadorian, and other Latino food places. I was thinking of doing a count and including a list of all the Latino restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries and groceries within a block of East Lake Street from I-35W to the river. Well, I did the count, but I’m not going to be able to include the list, because it was much bigger than I expected – 53 to be exact.
I have already mentioned one of those, Galapagos, and there is a new taco bar rumored to be opening soon at Midtown Global Market. Meanwhile, there are a few others I will highlight. From aficionados of Mexican cuisine, I hear a lot of praise for

Bakery section at La Alborada Market

Alborada Market, at 1855 E. Lake St. Many of my restaurant news sources sing the praises of Taqueria la Hacienda, which has two locations on Lake Street and one suburban location. Panaderia San Miguel at 1623 E. Lake St. is an old stalwart, having been established in 2000. Dulcemex is a retailer of Mexican candy and party supplies such as pinatas. They are at 325 E. Lake St. and there is also one in St. Paul.
More eating places and food retailers that are not Latino also can be found on East Lake Street. These include India Kutir, which is new (or at least new to me), Midori’s Floating World, a Japanese comfort food eatery which relocated about a mile east of their location that burned down in 2020, and Savory Bake House and Laune Bread, which are both small

Urban Forage Winery & Cider House

retailers of artisanal baked goods. Laune Bread started out some years ago as a micro-bakery subscription service with bike delivery, but has since opened a storefront with regular hours Wednesday through Saturday. They still offer a subscription service as well, so you can sign up for biweekly, weekly or even one-time orders, with a small discount. Laune bakes sourdough and vegan breads as well as pastries, and they even have pizza on Fridays (until it sells out!) with various toppings, including pepperoni, three cheese, veggie and vegan options.

Midtown Global Market

Midtown Global Market (MGM) recently lost one food retailer, the arepa place, but has a couple of new ones plus some additional new vendors. One of the incoming food places is Latino – El Taco Torro. I don’t know anything more about this than what’s on the website, where it is noted as “coming soon.” The other one is open, and that’s Irie Jamaican Express, which will be a welcome addition to our community, I’m sure.

Mexican candies from Dulcemex

And let’s not forget about some longtime favorites at MGM – Salsa a la Salsa and Manny’s Tortas. The family-owned and operated Salsa a la Salsa has been around for over two decades now, serving up traditional cuisine from central Mexico, as well as offering a new vegan menu. They also do catering for all kinds of events, large or small. And Manny’s Tortas is always worth a stop when you’re at MGM, with their menu of mouth-watering gourmet Mexican sandwiches. Since opening their first location on East Lake Street 25 years ago to their current home at MGM, Manny’s also operates a food booth at the Minnesota State Fair, and they provide event catering, too.
The Artist Space has been a feature of MGM for a while now, but I have neglected to mention it. This is a sort of pop-up residency program for artists. It’s a 275-square-foot semi-private area made available as a free workspace, hosting artists for two to six weeks per project. At completion, the artists feature their work for 30 days in a high-traffic area in the Market.

 

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