Haul From A Very Old Scandinavian Market & Tacos On Lake Street

Last weekend we had to get out of the house.

Another blizzard was predicted to land Saturday night. I laughed-cried when my phone notification dinged that the previous snow emergency was over. For, the next day, the city called another one.

We carefully maneuvered through the lumpy snow filled streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The city streets become so narrow with snow piles and parked cars that each block feels like a scary game of chicken.

Lake Street is an incredibly diverse street that spans the city. As a newer St. Paul-ite, I try not to refer to the Lake Street Bridge as the Marshall Avenue Bridge in the company of Minneapolis residents.

This bridge crosses the Mississippi river and takes you to either Minneapolis or St. Paul. There’s a lot of eat along the entire stretch.

We parked near Ingebretsen’s, a 97-year old Scandinavian market.

Ingebretsen’s describes a different world on their website, of life in Minneapolis during the 1920’s.

I wish I could have asked my grandparents if they ever shopped here. They used to entertain us with stories of my grandpa getting into trouble for greasing the street car lines, one of which ran by the shop.

Half of the store sells gifts and homeware while the other functions a butcher shop. If you have any intentions or inklings to buy food at Ingebretsen’s, bring cash. They allowed us to purchase our foods in the gift shop with a credit card, but sent us off with a friendly but firm reminder to bring cash next time.

You’ll find snacks to sample, a lefse equipment corner, candles, art, books, skincare products, mugs with kitchy sayings. We wistfully smiled at the household decor that appeared to come straight from our grandparent’s homes; Those blue Porsgrund plates, Norwegian trolls and decor with rosemaling.

We weren’t sure how long we were going to be out so we made a note to return for Swedish meatballs, potato sausage, pickled herring, and cheeses. Instead we loaded a basket with pantry items.

The Nora brand of sweet and sour red cabbage (rodkal) came in a foil pack that we easily heated. This Danish recipe looks easy to prepare. We enjoyed it alongside a simple buttered pasta dish.

The cloudberry jam caught Jake’s eye. “What do cloudberries taste like?” he asked the man running the deli.

He compared their flavor to mild raspberry and pointed us towards the price tag of $15. I’ve since learned these rare berries grow in swampy areas and are not easily cultivable due to requiring very specific growing conditions. It does taste similar to a mild raspberry; small, toothsome seeds dot the jam.

Boxes of vodka filled chocolates decorated one part of the the butcher counter. We noticed the stickers indicating they were for sale and debated buying one. The man assured us they are good. “Is he trying to get rid of them,” we wondered? But no, he was right. The candies are good. As you pop one into your mouth, crunchy chocolate coating gives way to sweet vodka syrup.

Mercado  Central

Ingebretsen’s is surrounded by good food. Go right or go left, it doesn’t matter. If you’re interested in Mexican and Somali cuisine, there are many restaurants to visit. Heavy Table wrote one of my favorite series exploring every restaurant along East Lake Street in 2018.

On this day we ate lunch at Mercado Central. Inside are restaurants, shops, and a salon selling clothes, pupusas, pozole, tacos, baked goods and groceries.

Most of the restaurants are along one hall. We unintentionally chose the same vendor, and, to be honest, I don’t remember the name. The sign outside read “Best Tacos” and it had the longest line. Jake was drawn here as part his own personal burrito quest. I chased the twirling al pastor spit and tacos árabes.

We ordered way too much food for two with the intentions of getting snowed-in with the leftovers.

Jake dug into his burrito and I ate as many tacos as I could. My platter of meat, onions, cilantro, rice and beans came with about eight-10 warm corn tortillas. A feast for only $9. Salsas are serve-yourself at the counter. The creamy red and green are the spiciest.

I remember trying tacos árabes in Puebla. Our hostess took us to her favorite places, including La Oriental mentioned in this blog post. The owner describes how her ancestors Lebanese ancestors who came to Mexico created this style of taco. Pork is cooked on a spit and sliced into thicker flour tortillas, served with a chipotle sauce. The ones I remember also had melted cheese.

This style of taco costs more than the others here because they’re larger. You can choose any of the meats as a filling. The tortillas are folded around melted cheese, a lot of sliced onions, and chipotle sauce. I liked it, but preferred my al pastor tacos.

As you can see in the photo above, al pastor and green salsa is flung is all over the tray. We had been digging into the platter with glee.

The Places:

1601 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55407
(612) 729-9333

Mercado Central
1515 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55407
612) 728-5485


  1. katie

    the beauty of Minnesota all in one post. I need to venture to lake street more often!

    • Jeni

      It’s hard to know where to start – there’s so many restaurants

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