While the artisanal farmers markets in our beloved Twin Cities are ridiculously charming, there is also a certain beauty to serving a wide swath of diverse people with a large selection of vegetables, goods, and bargains in a convenient location. That's where the Minneapolis Farmers Market on the Mall shines. As many as 60 vendors set up shop each Thursday smack in the middle of downtown Minneapolis and give busy professionals, convention center visitors, and everyone else wandering around Nicollet Mall a chance to pick up their fresh produce, herbs, and other items.
Sure, the Nicollet Mall Market can be lively and there are vendors who resell produce. But, if you embrace it, you just might find a cheap, healthy snack, a swell local seller, and a way to avoid yet another trip to the grocery store -- all during your coffee break.
Minneapolis Farmers Market on Nicollet Mall Where it is: Nicollet Mall between 5th and 12th Streets, Minneapolis (downtown) Days of the week/hours: Thursday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. through October 30 Vendors of note: Dehn's Garden, Aspen Ridge Honey Farm, Honey and Rye Bakehouse, Bar Five Meat and Poultry, Caribbean Heat, Cindy's Cinnamon Roasted Almonds, K&B Gardens, Great Harvest Bread Company, Groveland Confections, Dunlaoghaire: The Soap People
Market Features: This is a weekday market that caters to busy workers and visitors who are on a schedule, as it's open an astonishing 12 hours -- 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Right now the market has a vast array of Minnesota produce (radishes, beans, onions, green onions, potatoes, kale, beets, squash, tomatoes, herbs, berries, soybeans and more), non-local fruits and veggies (peaches, broccoli, oranges, etc.), cut flowers, baked goods from Honey and Rye and others, Smokehouse Snacks jerky, roasted nuts, edible flowers, cheese curds, honey, soap, tortillas, kettle corn, hot dogs, and tons of farmstead products.
Head out to the mall around noon and you'll see the the appealing mix of faces that makes up this fair city. In other words, there can be quite a crowd at some of the more popular stalls. However, it can be very gratifying to see people lining up for say, the gorgeous herbs from Dehn's Garden, who've been at the market since its 1986 inception. It's proof that there is an interest in quality homegrown goods in Minneapolis and not by any one group of people. Need more time with your vendors? Then morning and late afternoon are your times of the day, when Nicollet is more easily traversed.
Market Vibe: It's a hopping weekly city event that means downtowners and commuters get fast access to healthy produce that's easy to get to via public transportation.That's what we love about it. But it does require that that you stay on your toes a bit. If you want to avoid buying resold items, talk to the vendors and look for their Minnesota Grown signs. You'll be pleasantly surprised to find lots of Hmong vendors and others proffering the fruits, vegetables, and cut flowers of their labor. It should be noted that this isn't a food truck affair, as most aren't allowed on the mall (though several are nearby on Marquette Avenue, independent of the market).
Last thought: For our money, this venue is an under-appreciated gem in the urban center. The market serves a large number of individuals by stationing itself where people already are and not asking that shoppers make a special trip. It works equally well for families doing their weekly produce shopping, mid-level managers getting a lunchtime sweet, and tourists seeking a taste of Minneapolis. While we love the main Minneapolis Farmers Market, the Market on the Mall has an important place in our Hot Dish heart. It offers itself up to those who didn't even know they wanted a market -- and usually succeeds in winning them over.
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