Why Anthony Bourdain Called Minneapolis An Underrated Food City

Minneapolis might not have been the most decadent food city Anthony Bourdain ever visited (that's Quebec), but that didn't stop it from landing on the chef-slash-writer's radar in a big way. In a 2011 interview with Delish, Bourdain named Minneapolis as the number one newly up-and-coming food city in America for folks to keep an eye on. "Minneapolis impressed me very early on, but it just gets better every year," he told the outlet. "It's been noticed, but is still a vastly underrated food city and deserves more attention." 

So what made Minneapolis so special in his book? A fusion of local flair and global inspiration. "You not only have great Vietnamese restaurants, but also a lot of good homegrown chefs who are liberated by these new ingredients and changing tastes," explained Bourdain. "It pushes them to be a lot more creative."

Fellow foodie Andrew Zimmern shares Bourdain's zeal for Minneapolis' culinary scene. As he shared in an exclusive interview with Tasting Table last fall, "Two years ago, I would always apologize and say I'm not going to list where I live." (Minneapolis is Zimmern's hometown.) "But Minneapolis now can carry its weight with any town in America, food-wise." Considering this was over a decade after Bourdain sang Minneapolis' praises, it looks like the city is still crushing it in the food scene. Foodies can snag a cheese-filled "Jucy Lucy" burger at Matt's. Parlour cocktail bar serves glasses of rare Pappy. But these offerings weren't what captured Bourdain's attention.

Global fare is king in the Twin City

If you asked Anthony Bourdain, the most instrumental factor in creating a great food city in America "is an influx of people from someplace else," as he told Delish. "This brings along a market for new and interesting products. You need enough people insisting on authentic Chinese rather than dumbed-down American Chinese."

When Bourdain was scoping out a new food city for one of his prolific television series, the first thing he did was head straight to the local market to get a feel for the city's gastronomic "vibe." Today, folks can do precisely that at Minneapolis' Midtown Global Market. Chow down on a camel burger or hit up any of the many other vendors showcasing global fare like the Venezuelan Arepa Bar, Moroccan Dar Medina, Indian-Nepalese Momo Dosa, Mediterranean Oasis Market & Deli, Cambodian-Thai fusion Sabaii Cuisine, and more.

Less than a mile away from Midtown Global Market is Mercado Central, a Latinx marketplace serving traditional fare like tamales and pupusas. Pastry chef Shawn McKenzie of Café Cerés in Minneapolis recently earned a James Beard nomination for her chocolate zephyr rye cookies and traditional Turkish bagels. Elsewhere in the city, Bebe Zito serves birria burgers and global-inspired ice cream flavors like Brazilian Brigadeiro Chocolate, Gochujang Brownie, passion fruit Maracuja, Thai Tea, and Vanilla MSG. The global variety available indicates the Minneapolis food scene has only continued to flourish since Bourdain's recognition.