Owamni by Sioux Chef… James Beard-awarded indigenous restaurant on the Minneapolis riverfront on site of first MN Japanese restaurant

In 1968, the first Japanese restaurant in Minnesota, Fuji-Ya, opened on top of the limestone foundation of a 19th-century flour mill on the Mississippi riverfront in downtown Minneapolis. It offered a dining experience like no other in the Twin Cities, and played an even more important role in re-connecting Minneapolis and the Mississippi River.

About 50 years later, the Fuji-Ya building was torn down as part of a riverfront refresh, and two beautiful mill ruins buried under the building were preserved as part of creating the new Water Works Pavilion.

It includes the first Native American Indigenous restaurant in the Twin Cities, Owamni by the Sioux Chef which opened at virtually the same location as Fuji-Ya, at the sacred site of peace and well-being for the Dakota and Anishinaabe people, OwamniYomni… with the same beautiful views of the Mississippi River

The Sioux Chef Mission is to revitalize Native American Cuisine and reclaim an important culinary culture long buried and often inaccessible… making modern Indigenous cuisine more mainstream.

Owamni (Dakota for “the place of the falling, swirling waters”, the name for St. Anthony Falls) was founded by chef Sean Sherman and his partner, Dana Thompson… and won the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in 2022.

They have created a menu that doesn’t have colonial ingredients. There’s no dairy, no wheat flour, no cane sugar, no beef, pork or chicken… presenting a decolonized dining experience.

It was originally very difficult to get reservations, people were coming from all around the country and even the world, traveling specifically to come to this restaurant. We were lucky enough to get in twice this summer, and they do accept walk-ins when there is room on their patio. Don’t give up… waitlisting does work!

“It’s not typical to be able to go someplace and see our Indigenous foods on the menu and see the Native names on the menu, see Native people cooking the food and serving the food and listening to Native music coming out of the speakers and just the whole vibe. So it’s a whole experience and it’s something that’s super special and unique.”

We found the wait staff to be very helpful in deciding what to order, and both times we ordered dishes to share… more of a tasting meal. It’s quite an experience.

Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results – shensrud@homesmsp.com

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I love what I do! Highly insightful, analytical and creative, there is nothing I love more than helping you find the right solution for your real estate transition. My mission is to serve my clients with honesty and integrity, exceeding their expectations in service and support… and to help others by donating a portion of every transaction to Habitat for Humanity.

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