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Lunch With a Purpose

Community Connectedness Through the Universal Language of Food

At the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, we are proud of the work we do to inspire generosity, advance equity and invest in community-led solutions. In alignment with these strategies, we’ve assembled a list of diverse and mission-driven restaurants throughout the Twin Cities areas with mouth-watering menus. Many of these restaurants are vendors the Foundation regularly works with or has funded, and they can provide an inspiring venue for your next business meeting or lunch.

All Square

Location: 4047 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406

All Square is more than grilled cheese. This restaurant uses the vehicle of food to promote awareness on the criminal justice system. Founder and CEO Emily Hunt Turner’s work on issues of prison reentry, fair housing and segregation during her work with the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) inspired the lawyer to invest in those who’ve been impacted by the legal system so that they gain the training and skills needed to pursue careers in law and become entrepreneurs.

Café Ena

Location: 4601 Grand Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55419

Get a taste of Latin America at chef and owner Hector Ruiz’s Café Ena. Ruiz blends his knowledge of Latin spices with his French culinary training to offer a variety of creative dishes.

Chin Dian Kitchen

Location: 1500 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55424

Enjoy locally produced organic and free-range meats and vegetables served up with a unique mix of Chinese and Indian flavors at Chin Dian Kitchen. Couple Nina Wong and Thomas Gnanapragasm offer dishes that combine Nina’s Chinese and Vietnamese cultures with her Malaysian-born husband’s Indian background.

Cook St. Paul

Location: 1124 Payne Ave, St. Paul, MN 55130

Created by chef and owner Eddie Wu, Cook St. Paul fuses Eddie’s love for Korean food with traditional American diner fair. Cook St. Paul’s food is made in-house from locally sourced ingredients.

Manny’s Tortas

Location: 920 E Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55407 #125

Manny’s Tortas is a South Minneapolis staple. With two locations, one in Cooperativa Mercado Central and the other in Midtown Market, sibling owners Manny and Vicki Gonzalez have been serving up some of the best gourmet Mexican sandwiches. Thanks in part to the Latino Business Development Project and the Neighborhood Development Center (NDC), the Mexico City natives were able to open their first location.

Moroccan Flavors

Location: 920 E Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55407

After securing a loan for Neighborhood Development Center (NDC), Hassan Ziadi set out to create a restaurant honoring his Moroccan heritage. Located in Midtown Global Market, Moroccan Flavors offers a taste of some of the country’s traditional cuisine.

Nadia’s Cakes

Locations in Maple Grove and Woodbury

If you’re craving something sweet, why not head to Nadia’s Cupcakes? Baker and author Abby Jimenez serves up award-winning cakes and cupcakes ranging from standard vanilla to gluten free, vegan and keto-friendly options. Nadia’s Cakes is a family business with locations in Minnesota and California.

Ngon Vietnamese Bistro

Location: 799 University Ave, St. Paul, MN 55104

Ngon Vietnamese Bistro is a modern Vietnamese restaurant with French influence in Frogtown highlighting fresh and local ingredients. It is run by chef and co-owner Hai Troung, a Vietnamese-Chinese immigrant, whose family migrated to the Twin Cities in 1979.

Sen Yai Sen Lek

Location: 2422 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

Sen Yai Sen Lek or Big Noodle Little Noodle is a Northeast Minneapolis Thai restaurant co-owned by husband and wife couple Joe and Holly Hatch-Surisook. Enjoy authentically prepared rice and noodle dishes Pad Thai and Tom Yum soup.

Taste of Thailand

Location: 1671 Selby Ave, St. Paul, MN 55104

Check out the weekday lunch buffet at the Taste of Thailand. The casual dining restaurant offers traditional Thai entrees and desserts, plus wine to match with your dishes.

Workhorse Coffee

Location: 2399 University Ave, St. Paul, MN 55114

In the mood for a good cup of coffee? Visit Workhorse Coffee Bar. Couple Ty Barnett and Shannon Forney opened the local gathering five years ago, not long after Forney received her master’s in Nonprofit Administration at Hamline University. Workhorse offers traditional drinks such as cappuccino and macchiato as well as tea and house-made switchel. They also showcase artwork from local artists.

Zen Box Izakaya

Location: 602 S Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55415

Husband and wife duo John Ng and Lina Goh have been serving up traditional ramen and bento boxes since 2012 at their Japanese-influenced restaurant. Their love for ramen has even inspired their philanthropic work. Each year Zen Box holds an annual 'Ramen Attack’ festival in the Twin Cities aimed at benefiting Minnesota’s own Children's Cancer Research Fund. The event is the fulfillment of Chef Ng’s goal to unite chefs from around the globe through collaboration to create and share what he loves most.

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