Summer on Cedar Avenue


Where to eat on Cedar Avenue?

Twice now, in The Dish, I have reviewed a really good Persian restaurant in my son’s neighborhood of the northern Atlanta suburb of John’s Creek. My excuse was that Minneapolis didn’t have a real Persian restaurant. But last time, I was inadvertently lying! About the same time I was in Atlanta, Nader’s Persian Restaurant was opening at 414½ Cedar Ave. in the West Bank neighborhood. Nader’s Persian Restaurant serves food with names like akbar jojeh, kofteh tabrizi and fesenjoon. They just opened late last summer and use a Facebook group to update opening hours and specials. I hope to be reviewing it soon.
Another great place to eat on the West Bank is Hard Times Café (1821 Riverside Ave.). Although neither is what you could call fine dining, this is a very different experience. Hard Times is completely vegetarian, collectively-run, and doesn’t take credit or debit cards (one of the last holdouts.) Although they are no longer open 24 hours, they are still open later than most cafés: 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. As a vegetarian café with many vegan options, it has a near-perfect rating from Happy Cow. They also have movies on Monday nights.
At 3500 Cedar Ave., you will find Matt’s Bar, the original home of the Jucy Lucy. The other claimant of the title of inventor of the Jucy Lucy is also on Cedar Avenue, a couple of miles south and outside the city limits. But I believe Matt’s.

Nibs was the predecessor to Matts

The current Matt’s dates to 1954 when a young Matt Bristol bought the burger-and-3.2-beer joint called Nibs and changed its name. The Jucy Lucy was invented soon after that. Matt passed away in 2014 at the age of 89, just hours before the historic visit of Barack Obama to Matt’s Bar. He had sold the bar to his daughter Cheryl in 1990 and fully retired in 1998, when Cheryl sold the bar to Scott Nelson.
Lucy’s Market and Carry-out (3749 Cedar Ave.) is part convenience store (with an emphasis on African ingredients) and part take-out-only Ethiopian Restaurant. The “Lucy” in the name refers to the oldest living human who was discovered to have lived in present-day Ethiopia. Owner Aster Andualem opened Lucy’s Market in 2017.
Hamburguesas el Gordo (4157 Cedar Ave.) has more than just hamburguesas (Spanish for hamburgers). Their menu includes gordos, their oversized, loaded hamburgers; but also street tacos, burritos, dogos (Mexican-style street hotdogs), combo platters, beverages, desserts and sides. Both the burgers and the dogos come in vegan versions. The business has a complex history with many openings, closings and locations. Check out their website at to see more details.
Speaking of long complex histories, Carbone’s Pizza (4706 Cedar Ave.) is one location of a vast family-owned mini-empire that started life as an Italian grocery store in St. Paul in the 1920s. They were one of the first places to sell pizza in the Twin Cities, starting in the 1950s when two brothers learned to make pizza from their cousin in Chicago. Check out their 4th Annual Music Fest (see ad in this section).

Groovy’s owners Julia and Marcio with new baby Marlo in early 2023

Retail and services on Cedar Avenue

May Day Bookstore (301 Cedar Ave.) is an underground bookstore. This used to mean a place that sold shady books about sex and drugs, but in this case, it means it’s literally below ground. May Day Bookstore, 49 years old this year, has a very interesting email newsletter you can subscribe to, a “business” website at, a blog of book and film reviews and the odd think piece at
You can call or email them to order books through or from the store, or to reserve space for a meeting or event. They do not take credit or debit cards.
Top Gear Autoworks (3412 Cedar Ave.) is now in its 15th year of business, and business is strong. They have a waiting list to service automobiles, and they only work on European brands. They do normal repairs, regular service and part replacement and specialize in renovations of classic European cars like Porsche, Lotus, Lamborghini and Bentley.
Blackbird Music Store (3445 Cedar Ave.) is well-known to both amateur and professional musicians in Minneapolis. This unique business sells new instruments as well as used instruments, accessories, sheet music and more. They repair instruments of many kinds, offer low-cost rent-to-own programs, lessons to people of all ages and abilities and in-store jams! Also, if you want to check out what they have in stock, they have a page listing on the Reverb website at
Mostly they sell guitars and violins, but they also carry ukuleles, mandolins, banjos, autoharps, dulcimers and many other string instruments associated with folk music.
Metal Detectors of Minnesota (3748 Cedar Ave.) is the place to go if you loved the British TV series The Detectorists and aspire to be like them. They have a very minimal website, so probably best to call if you’re seeking information: 612-721-1901. They are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Groovy’s (4206 Cedar Ave.), is a charming, family-run vintage store selling furniture, vinyl records, DVDs, pop art, wearables and tchotchkes. Julia Hatlestad and her husband opened Groovy’s in the summer of 2017 in the adjacent shopfronts at 4200 Cedar.

The 4200 Cedar mural near completion

Community resources on or near Cedar Avenue

Speaking of 4200 Cedar, the building at that location, a former Danish-American Center, is a great resource to the community. It hosts events and meetings and houses the offices of several progressive organizations. It’s currently the center of a lot of the Gaza Ceasefire organizing, for instance. The building is instantly recognizable by its community-painted mural covering the entire north-facing outer wall.
Holy Rosary Catholic Church (2424 18th Ave. S.) is a 146-year-old church that up until 2020 was administered by Dominican priests and monks. Nowadays its parish/attendees include many Spanish speakers and quite a few Native Americans, as it sits adjacent to Little Earth of the United Tribes, one of the largest urban Native American housing complexes in the nation.
Holy Rosary is one of Minnesota’s 35 Loaves and Fishes meal distribution sites, and it’s one of the oldest ones in Minneapolis, which now has eleven sites. Loaves and Fishes was founded in 1982, with a site at St. Stephen’s Church in Minneapolis and one at the Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul. In 2018, they first served over a million meals in a year. With COVID pandemic and recent economic woes, that number has kept growing, and over 4 million meals were served across the state in 2023.

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