Out-of-towners can be forgiven if they stroll along the frigid and empty sidewalks of a prosperous-looking downtown Minneapolis and wonder where all the people have gone. Two words: Look up.
They’re in the skyway system, that bewildering maze of climate-controlled, second-story bridges and corridors that connect 80 city blocks. It’s not just people, either. The skyways are also the place to encounter a seemingly endless stream of quick-service restaurants, many of them $10-and-under spots that cater to the weekday lunch crowd.
Some are mom-and-pop shops, others are national chains. There are beloved Minneapolis classics, and hot newcomers. A recent (and happy) circumstance is the growing number of creativity-driven food trucks that have matriculated to brick-and-mortar spots on the skyways. Or skyway-accessible spaces at street level.
The mix continually refreshes itself. For example, food-truck (and Midtown Global Market) favorite Hot Indian Foods (hotindianfoods.com) will be launching, post-Super Bowl, a skyway outpost at 121 S. 8th St. And trends become mainstream when they materialize in the skyways, such as the impending debut of Chicago’s Aloha Poke Co. (alohapokeco.com) at 811 LaSalle Av.
During Super Bowl week, all kinds of skyway restaurants are extending their hours, serving into the night and on the weekend.
The place for soups. Six ever-changing, scratch-made choices daily, with nods to those following vegetarian and gluten-free diets. Other pluses include organic oatmeal with all the right add-ons, a wide variety of Minnesota-made snacks and locally brewed kombucha on tap.
Locations: 950 Nicollet Mall (skyway), 612-353-4169, and 601 Marquette Av. (skyway), 612-223-8545, simpls.com.
Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays.
One Two Three Sushi
Owned by the region’s largest supermarket sushi vendor, these cheery spots specialize in design-your-own sushi rolls, prepared in a flash. Other options include well-stocked rice bowls and ramen, plus flavorful steamed buns, all at reasonable prices.
Locations: 50 S. 10th St. (skyway), 612-236-4757; 80 S. 8th St. in the IDS Crystal Court (skyway), 612-354-3040; and 220 S. 6th St. (skyway), 612-259-7832, onetwothreesushi.com.
Hours: 10th St.: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays. 8th St.: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. 6th St.: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays.
Angel Food Bakery & Coffee Bar
At the sweet-tooth sibling to Hell’s Kitchen, baker/co-owner Katy Gerdes displays her wicked sense of humor through vividly colorful, flavorful and playfully over-the-top takes on doughnuts, cupcakes and other skillfully rendered goodies.
Location: 86 S. 9th St. (street), 612-238-1435, angelfoodmn.com.
Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
The takeout counter operating out of the back of the Zelo kitchen turns out rich lasagnas, well made (and well sauced) meatballs, hefty sandwiches, hearty soups and fresh, colorful salads. Find it inside the 9th Street lobby of the stately Medical Arts Building.
Location: 831 Nicollet Mall (street), 612-333-7000, zelinomn.com.
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays. Super Bowl week: extending hours “through dinner” on weekdays, and adding 11 a.m. “through dinner” Sat.
La Belle Crêpe
Along with a long list of both sweet and savory crêpes, chef/owner Alain Lenne manages to produce impressive pho (including a design-your-own option) and a half-dozen bánh mì in what might be downtown’s tiniest restaurant. The espresso machine is stocked with Lavazza beans.
Location: 825 Nicollet Mall (street), 612-333-1100, labellecrepe.com.
Hours: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. daily. Super Bowl week: extending hours to 9 p.m. Mon.-Thu. and 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat.
Green + the Grain
The skyways sport a small fraternity of salad-focused spots, including Sprout, Greenfield Natural Kitchen and the Salad Bar, but this fast-growing former food trucker is the one that stands out from the pack. Visit the 6th Street location for downtown’s tastiest frozen yogurt.
Locations: 800 LaSalle Av. (skyway), 612-341-9000; 109 S. 7th St. (skyway), 612-332-5555; and 200 S. 6th St. (skyway), 612-339-5774, greenandthegrain.com.
Hours: LaSalle: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays; 7th St.: 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. weekdays; and 6th St.: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays. Super Bowl week: extending hours to 8 p.m., adding 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat. and Sun.
Owners Mark and Thanh Myhre cleverly channel Chipotle’s mix-and-match format into pho, bánh mì, spring rolls and vermicelli bowls, with winning results. Check out their Super Bowl dance party at their LaSalle Plaza location, featuring steamed buns, drink specials and music by DJ Dan Jordan.
Locations: 800 LaSalle Av. (skyway), 612-338-2000 and 100 S. 5th St. (skyway), 612-338-5189, bepeatery.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays. Super Bowl week: extending hours to 8 p.m. Dance party 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Fri. and Sat. at LaSalle Av. only.
Downtown’s snack canyon since 1932. Temptations include large assortments of chocolate confections and roasted nuts, as well as made-on-the-premises (and the utterly irresistible) “Chicago Mix,” a trademarked blend of popcorn, caramel corn and Cheddar cheese corn.
Locations: 811 LaSalle Av. (street), 612-332-3220 and 27 S. 7th St. (street), 612-332-7752, candylandstore.com.
Hours: LaSalle Av.: 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat. Super Bowl week: extending hours to 10:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat, and adding 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. 7th Street: Mon.-Wed. 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Thu.-Sat. 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Super Bowl week: extending hours to 10:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat.
Owner Anne Rucker’s brioche beauties are hall-of-fame worthy, especially when they’re coated in a decadent dark chocolate ganache, or a thick glazed flecked with brown butter speckles. The cake doughnuts (don’t miss the lavender version) are similarly splendid.
Location: 80 S. 8th St. in the IDS Crystal Court (street), 612-259-7700, bogartsdoughnutco.com.
Hours: 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays. Super Bowl week: extending hours to 10 p.m., adding 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
Roti Modern Mediterranean
Among the skyway’s big chains, this Chicago-based import shines for its commitment to the fresh ingredients it channels into pita sandwiches, rice plates and salads. First-timers should download the restaurant’s free app for an immediate (one-time) $5 discount.
Location: 80 S. 8th St. in the IDS Crystal Court (street), 612-392-2426, roti.com.
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. Sat.
A just-opened iteration of a popular food truck. The house specialty is the grilled cheese sandwich, in countless, butter-drenched variations, served at both breakfast and lunch.
Location: 705 Marquette Av. (skyway), 612-568-5737, ocheeze.com.
Hours: 7 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays.
Another fan favorite with food-truck roots. The kitchen takes a global and spiced-up (thanks to Minnesota-grown Thai chiles, and plenty of them) approach to burritos, tacos, quesadillas and bánh mí. Vegetarians definitely have a place at the table.
Location: 109 S. 7th St. (skyway), 612-236-4856, vellee.com.
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. weekdays. Super Bowl week: extending hours to 6:30 p.m., adding 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Sat.
Blissful renditions of cake, old fashioned and raised doughnuts, along with a cruller to end all crullers, and peerless cream- and jam-filled Bismarcks. The deep fried-averse will appreciate owner Justin Bedford’s devotion to all things oatmeal.
Location: 40 S. 7th St. in City Center (skyway), 612-259-7804, cardigandonuts.com.
Hours: 6:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays. Super Bowl week: adding 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun.
Cocoa & Fig
Baker/co-owner Laurie Pyle and her crew channel all kinds of premium ingredients into sweet temptations, including cupcakes and cake lollipops. Highlights include decadent cork-shaped brownies, pastel-tinted macarons and gluten-free versions of the best Oreos, ever.
Location: 651 Nicollet Mall (skyway), 612-333-1485, cocoaandfig.com.
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat.
Up Market Sushi
It seems suspicious, a sushi counter inside a Walgreens. Not to worry. Just follow the crowds, who line up for the selection, the moderate prices and the quick, friendly service.
Location: 655 Nicollet Mall (skyway).
Hours: 7 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun.
A fast-food burger that works, big time. Each quarter-pound patty is all about sizzle and juice, and the toppings — mellow grilled onions, tangy sweet pickles — are just-right complements. Extra credit points for the golden fries, hand-mixed malts and affordable prices.
Location: 601 Marquette Av. (skyway), Mpls., 612-436-0330, myburgerusa.com.
Hours: 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. weekdays.
Tough to find, but worth the hassle. A tiny counter that specializes in hand-wrapped, top-quality tamales, plus a handful of supersized, bargain-priced ($8.25) platters (start with the enchiladas, or the chilaquiles).
Location: 608 2nd Av. S. (street), 612-354-2379, laloma.com.
Hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays. Super Bowl week: extending hours to 6 p.m., adding 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
Seating: No, but an adjacent food court.
Locally roasted beans, meticulously brewed. The exceptional pastries (oh, those croissants) are from quality-obsessed Patisserie 46 in south Minneapolis. The roomy street-level location boasts a winter necessity, a fire pit.
Locations: 225 S. 6th St., 612-248-8678, 612-248-8677, peacecoffee.com.
Hours: 6 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays. Super Bowl week: adding 7 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun., skyway level only, access through Grand Hotel.
Seating: Yes, on street level (6th Street) and skyway level (2nd Avenue).
The main draw is the long list of reliably satisfying sandwiches — pastrami, corned beef, brisket — made with care from a family legacy that stretches back 80 years. There’s also a decent range of quick, inexpensive breakfasts. The line? It moves, fast.
Location: 50 S. 6th St. (skyway), 612-341-8007, thebrothersdeli.com.
Hours: 7 a.m.- 2 p.m. weekdays.
D’Amico & Sons
Soups, prepared salads and sandwiches, all approached with a something-extra mentality. No wonder; the restaurant is operated by a family-owned hospitality powerhouse that for decades has been synonymous with quality and innovation.
Location: 555 Nicollet Mall (street), 612-342-2700, damicoandsons.com.
Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. Super Bowl week: extending hours to 7 p.m. Mon.-Wed. and Fri., adding 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat.
The Burger Place
Another burger-centric operation, this time concentrating on a dizzying list of permutations, served in mammoth portions. Also on the menu: quick, moderately priced breakfast options.
Location: 220 S. 6th St. (skyway), 612-338-1213, theburgerplace.com.
Hours: 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays. Super Bowl week: extending weekday hours to 6 p.m., and adding 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. and Sun.
A big-portions/low-prices hole in the wall with a seriously memorable gyros sandwich. Picture a warm pita blanketed under thin shavings of well-seasoned lamb, crisp romaine, a splash of vinegar and a dollop of tangy, cucumber-enriched yogurt. Don’t skip the tabbouleh.
Location: 10 S. 5th St. (street), 612-333-4658.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays.
The downtown lunch buffet is very nearly an endangered species, but it’s alive and well at this warm and welcoming surprise, which stocks a $15 midday spread that’s notable for its diversity and affection for big, bold flavors.
Location: 10 S. 5th St. (street), 612-331-5577, copperpotus.com.
Hours: Buffet 11 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays and noon-3 p.m. Sat.-Sun., dinner 5-10 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 5-10:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 5-9 p.m. Sun.
Sphere and Sphere Kitchen
A side-by-side newcomer that’s worth checking out. Both are run by the same folks behind another skyway favorite, Good to Go. Sphere is the more formal of the two, with salads, burgers, flatbreads and cocktails. Sphere Kitchen is all about flavorful, moderately priced rice/skewer combinations.
Location: 100 S. 5th St. (skyway), 612-274-7204, sphererestaurant.com.
Hours: Sphere open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (bar to 8 p.m.) weekdays. Super Bowl week: weekday kitchen hours extended to 9 p.m., also adding 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sat. and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun. Sphere Kitchen open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays. Super Bowl week: Adding 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun.
An Instragram hot spot with a menu to match. A first-rate coffee program is fortified by a small, well-chosen beer and wine list. Hungry? There are inventive, well-crafted crêpes, sweet and savory, plus a gotta-try breakfast sandwich.
Location: 100 Washington Av. S. (street), Mpls., pennyscoffee.com.
Hours: 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun.