Features

Nordic Shops + Eats Guide

From pastries, cheeses, and meats to toys, clothes, and gifts, get our editors' list of must-try Nordic shops and restaurants across the Twin Cities.

Nordic Eats + Shops Guide

EATS

Bread and Pastries

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Denny’s 5th Avenue Bakery. The most important small fact for a Nordic food fan in the Twin Cities to understand is this: Blackey’s, the legendary nordeast Minneapolis Danish bakery, did not vanish from the face of the earth, as many assume. It was bought by Denny’s, a Bloomington bakery south of I-494 and Portland Avenue. All the Blackey’s treats—the midnight-black bread, immense buttery kringle, cinnamon-rich pepparkakor, and the oh-so perfect Danish—are available daily. Additional specialty items show up for the holidays. 7840 Fifth Ave. S., Bloomington, 952-881-4445, dennysbakery.com


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Grandma’s Bakery. The Swedish limpa rye from Grandma’s in White Bear Lake is an everyday delight: A little candied citron is scattered through the good tangy rye, and adds just enough sweet-and-tart surprise to remind you of Christmas, but not in a full-throttle way. If you want full throttle, stop by Grandma’s during the holidays, for cardamom bread, julekake Norwegian Christmas bread, Norwegian Kneip bread, Oslo Rye, Swedish rye, and even kransekage bars, in case you’d like to revisit the taste of a proper Scandinavian wedding. Two White Bear Lake locations: 1765 Buerkle Road, 651-779-0707; 2184B Fourth Street, 651-762-2900; grandmasbakery.com


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The Finnish Bistro. Soile Anderson founded the Taste of Scandinavia Bakeries 30-odd years ago, and eventually sold all but the St. Anthony Park one, keeping it as her taste of home. Now every day you can go there for a Finnish breakfast (Perinteiset) of salmon, herring, cheese, crisp-bread, and much more, and leave with a Finnish rye as heavy as a ham (in a good way) or their renowned Helsinki whipped cream cake. 2264 Como Ave., St. Paul, 651-645-9181, finnishbistro.com


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Taste of Scandinavia Bakery & Cafe. With three suburban locations, Taste of Scandinavia has the areas widest selection of Scandinavian pastries, bar none. You’ll find Norwegian almond kringler, cardamom almond pulla rolls and longer pulla braids, three sorts of Scandinavian rye breads, lingonberry cheesecakes, Norwegian milk dinner rolls, and more. That’s not all: The cafes attached to the bakeries sell Norwegian and Swedish breakfasts (so those of Ole and Lena style “mixed marriages” can dine together), including Swedish Pyttipanna. Lunch and dinner offerings include Swedish hamburgers (with Swedish meatbally gravy, of course), Norwegian Jarlsberg-topped “Jarlsburgers,” lefse sandwiches, and, of course, Swedish meatball dinners. 845 Village Center Dr., North Oaks, 651-482-8285; 2900 Rice Street, Little Canada, 651-482-8876; 401 W. 98th St., Bloomington, 952-358-7490; tasteofscandinavia.com

Cheese and Butter

 

Skyr from Start Thrower Farm. Icelandic skyr (rhymes with here) is a fresh cheese that’s halfway between a yogurt and crème fraiche. It’s ubiquitous in Scandinavian countries, served with berries for dessert. This new version, made from the milk of a herd of sheep that graze due west of the Twin Cities, is a treat straight from the Viking culinary repertoire. starthrowerfarm.com


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Nordic Creamery. Bread and butter are as important to Scandinavian cuisine as tomatoes and olive oil are to Italian cooking. Possibly the best butter in America is made by Al and Sarah Bekkum, and their six children, who live on the land their family homesteaded in Wisconsin in 1888 after immigrating from Norway. Their butters are made on their on-farm dairy. Look especially for the Harvest Gold, made of the milk from cows grazing on summer wildflowers, and the “Spesiell Kremen,” an elite best-of-the-best tangy, cultured version. nordiccreamery.com


 

Local cheeses. Cheese is another key element of the Scandinavian table, and our best local cheeses present the wild taste of local meadows. Those from Rochdale Farms and Uplands Cheese Co. are truly Scandinavian wild in spirit. wedge.coop/deli-cheese/rochdale-farms-cheese-butter; nordiccreamery.com

Sausage, Meat, Fish

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Ingebretsen’s Scandinavian Gifts. Ingebretsen’s makes all its own sausages—from hot dogs to the Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish sorts—from meat from local Minnesota farms. They even make old-fashioned specialties, like lamb Rollepulse, an intensely gamy and savory dried sausage that’s something between Italian braesola and headcheese. It’s so authentic, and so rare even in Scandinavia, that native Scandinavians have been known to smuggle it home in their luggage from U.S. trips. 1601 East Lake St., Mpls., 612-729-9333, http://ingebretsens.com


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Ready Meats. A northeast Minneapolis institution since 1946, Ready Meats sells a wide array of Scandinavian specialties, including their own house-made Swedish potato sausage, Swedish meatballs, lefse, lutefisk, pickled herring, lingonberry sauce, and so on. What, you thought there was only one metro Swedish-specialty butcher? Nope. 3550 Johnson St. N.E., Mpls., 612-789-2484, readymeats.com


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Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market. Heartland is by no means New Nordic—the chef who oversees the market is of Italian descent. But on the other hand Heartland is entirely New Nordic, entirely focused as it is on presenting the true product of the northern farm and northern wild for your culinary delight: Try the Mangalitsa prosciutto, lamb terrine, or wild-boar liver sausage beside some house-pickled gooseberries, for further insight. 289 East 5th St., St. Paul, 651-699-3536, heartlandrestaurant.com


 

Olsen Fish Co. Minneapolis-based importers since 1910, the Olsen Fish Co. is responsible for most of the United States’ lutefisk and lingonberry imports, and a good portion of our herring. They specialize in the good quality, North Atlantic premium variety of herring, and their products can be found in local markets like Lunds and Byerly’s, in premium markets nationwide, and at just about every Sons of Norway hootenanny. 2115 N. Second St., Mpls., 612-287-0838, olsenfish.com


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Coastal Seafoods. Nothing says New Nordic like local herring, and Coastal Seafoods, with locations in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, is the only place to reliably buy Lake Superior herring, from the ever-improving local fishery. Look for the fish but also for the herring roe, a splendid bright orange, light and energetic form of caviar. 2330 Minnehaha Ave S., Mpls., 612-724-7425; 74 S. Snelling Ave., St.Paul, 651-698-4888; coastalseafoods.com

Pickles and Jellies

 

Lucia’s To-Go Chef Lucia Watson is one of Minnesota’s founding locavores, and the jams, preserves, and jellies on offer at the Lucia’s To-Go part of her operation, from plum-fennel ketchup to yellow-raspberry jam, are one of the easiest ways imaginable to eat wild. 1432 W. 31st St., Mpls., 612-825-9800, lucias.com/to-go


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Native Harvest. North of the Twin Cities stretches an expanse of pine and water that continues unbroken till the arctic. What the heck is there to eat in there? That’s the question we’d be asking if we were truly eating New Nordic. It’s a question already answered by the Native Americans who call those lands home. The Anishinaabeg people of the northern Minnesota White Earth reservation sell some of those answers online and in local co-ops and stores. The chokecherry syrup is profoundly flavored, winey and deep. Their wild rice is unequalled. And their maple syrup is truly gorgeous. nativeharvest.com


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Golden Fig. St. Paul’s Golden Fig is widely known for its house-made spice blends, sugars, drink-mixes, and vinegars, but the storefront also serves as a gallery for small-scale food artisans. It’s a veritable wonderland of homemade pickles, jams, chocolates, and honeys—honey so good and Nordic-spirited, in fact, that when Gustavus Adolphus needed honey to serve to the King and Queen of Sweden for this fall’s visit, Golden Fig is where they got it. 790 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-602-0144, goldenfig.com


 

Ingebretsen’s. This shop also imports dozens of Scandinavian packaged goods—everything from chocolate and jam to rye crisp and fish spread. Details above.



SHOPS

Children’s Apparel

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Polarn O. Pyret. Minnesota is not often one of the first places a European brand targets for U.S. expansion, but Sweden’s largest children’s apparel retailer, Polarn O. Pyret, it was an obvious choice. Even before opening this fall at the Galleria in Edina, PO.P had an enthusiastic customer base here: Minnesota is one of PO.P’s top markets for online sales. From striped basics to performance outerwear in bright colors, their practical but modern vibe is our vibe. Galleria, 952-225-3154, polarnopyretusa.com

Men’s Apparel

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Askov Finlayson. Catering to the classically styled (emphasis on styled) man as well as contemporary design enthusiasts, with a smattering of apparel, jewelry, gifts, and home accessories from quality brands including a few modern Scandinavian lines like Norse Project, Skultuna and Fjallraven. 200 N. 1st St. Mpls., 612-206-3925, askovfinlayson.com

Gifts, Home Design and More

Crate & Barrel. The home store has teamed up with Marimekko on a line of textiles and home goods in the brand’s signature bold patterns. Galleria, 952-920-2300, crateandbarrel.com

 

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FinnStyle. This sophisticated, gallery-like store pays homage to modern Scandinavian design with housewares all designed or made in Finland. Find glassware, porcelain, and cutlery from iittala and textiles by Marimekko. FinnStyle is well-known around the world as a top online retailer of Scandinavian brands. Lucky for us, the company is based in Minneapolis, and has its only bricks and mortar store here. 160 Glenwood Ave., Mpls., 612-333-2127, finnstyle.com

Iverson’s True Nordic style is at the heart of this Twin Cities fixture. The store features tableware, glass candleholders, and other home accessories by Finnish and Swedish artisans, plus silk wool sweaters and merino wool throw blankets from Norwegian designer Oleana. 5101 Excelsior Blvd. St. Louis Park, 952-545-6051, iversonsimports.com
 

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Danish Teak Modern. The best local source to outfit your whole house with fine vintage Danish modern furniture. 1500 Northeast Jackson St., Mpls. 612-362-7870, danishteakclassics.com



 

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Golden Age Design. A Robbinsdale-based husband-and-wife duo who scouts out and refinishes midcentury classics. facebook.com/goldenagedesign


 

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Succotash. A great little vintage shop with furniture and accessories. 781 Raymond Ave., St. Paul, 651-603-8787



 

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Classic Retro @ Pete’s. Like all vintage havens, it’s hit-or-miss, but worth a stop for furnishings and accents. 2145 University Ave. W., St. Paul, 651-224-5235, stpaulretroloop.blogspot.com



 

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Spinario. Housed in the Art & Architecture building, this place is always full of mid-century furniture, lighting, barware, and accents. 3338 University Ave. SE., Mpls., spinariodesign.com



 

Museum Shops

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American Swedish Institute. With its modern building expansion, the American Swedish Institute’s museum store is now front and center. It’s ok to stop by just to shop—they actually encourage that. The store has expanded its offerings considerably to celebrate modern Scandinavian design, with a few sacred nods to the past, such as Dala horses. As ASI hopes to become a destination for weddings, the store is stepping up its housewares and adding a registry. They’ve also gone out of their way to find lines not available elsewhere in town. 2600 Park Ave. S., Mpls., 612-870-3378, shopswedish.com

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Walker Art Center. The stunning Walker Art Center has a shop full of contemporary gifts, modern art books, and fabulous artisan jewelry, with an emphasis on unique, design-based items, including many Scandinavian brands. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7633, walkerart.org/shop


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