Before the Green Line opened in 2014, supporters of the transit line said it could take you “around the world in 11 miles”– a reference to the distance of the Green Line, spanning downtown Saint Paul to downtown Minneapolis by way of University Ave., and to the many different types of cuisine found along the way.
Have you ever noticed how many great restaurants we have in or close to the Midway? And how many different cultures are represented in the dishes at those restaurants? At the Midway Chamber, we hold an annual event where 15-20 restaurants give samples of a popular dish – a great way to try something new without much commitment.
Cuisine from different parts of the globe along University Ave. include Greek (The Best Steak House, The Naughty Greek), Ethiopian (Bole, Demera, Fasika), Mexican (Homi, Los Ocampo) and Italian (Caffe Biaggio). But the most common cuisines are represented by several Asian cultures – Cambodian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese are all represented. If you’re looking for a fun food-related contest, sample the pho from different Vietnamese restaurants and see which you like best. Or wontons. Or spring rolls.
A lot of the success of University Ave. (both restaurants and other companies) can be attributed to immigrants.
New American Economy, a bipartisan research and immigration advocacy organization, creates Map the Impact, an interactive map which helps explain data about immigrants from a federal level down to Congressional districts. In 2017, about 3.2 million immigrants owned a business, totaling about 20 percent of all business in the United States. According to a 2016 National Restaurant Association study, 29 percent of restaurant and hospitality businesses were owned by an immigrant compared to 14 percent of all businesses in the United States.
Map the Impact states 20,413 immigrant entrepreneurs reside in the metro area (2017 statistic). No doubt immigrants help the economy in our country, and the Midway is a shining example.
A few years ago I was living in Frogtown and made a New Year’s resolution to try a new restaurant in or near my neighborhood every month (this is the kind of food-related resolution more people should attempt!). Making this resolution means you are supporting the local economy and exposing yourself to new restaurants – and possibly new cultures and cuisines.
We are lucky to live in a neighborhood with so many unique food options – make a point soon to try at least one restaurant you haven’t been to yet!