BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - Eating at the airport can typically be more of a default dining experience. The choices are limited, timing can be tricky and it's all about location, location, location.
But Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is hoping to change all of that.
Over the last year or so, officials have completed the first phase of a multi-level project to bring local flavor to the roughly 38 million passengers who travel through MSP each year. The result is 11 local restaurants and 35 new stores, all giving travelers a taste of Minnesota.
"The best way to know a community is through its food and we here in the Twin Cities and in the great region of Minnesota have an awesome food and beverage scene," said Elizabeth Grzechowiak, assistant director of concessions and business development for Metropolitan Airports Commission at MSP. "We have for a long time and I think that it was underrepresented here at the airport."
The idea is to give locals and international travelers alike a place to relax, have a drink and dine on some of the best the state has to offer.
The list of local restaurants include:
Stone Arch is a new restaurant exclusive to the airport that partnered with the Minnesota Craft Brewer's Guild to highlight local brews coming from the 90-plus breweries in the state. Here, you'll find nearly 30 Minnesota beers on tap -- including six brewed exclusively for the airport (complete with fun aviation-themed names). You may recognize the space -- it was previously a Chili's patio that greeted passengers right off the south security checkpoint. That patio was extended and expanded in order to feature a craft brew lab, plenty of seating and a full wrap-around bar.
The popular food truck turned North Loop restaurant is serving up breakfast, its classic main entrees and more. Known for its massive lobster rolls and tasty lobster mac, the bright, sunny spot is located in the airport mall -- complete with seafood memorabilia and a giant metal lobster.
The first place to offer coal-fired pizza in Minnesota is now the first place, in the nation, to install a coal-fired oven at an airport. The popular pizza spot will offer everything from breakfast pizza starting at 6 a.m. to your favorite artisan thin crust creations.
Lake Wine Kitchen + Bar
It's a spot that's hard to miss -- located in the main hallway of the airport mall, Lake Wine offers a selection of wines from around the globe, plus a menu of small plates, salads, sandwiches and more. Need a last-minute gift or a quick restock? Bottles to go are two for $20. Across the way, you'll find a nice patio space with plenty of seating.
One of the best bakeries in Minnesota has expanded its international offerings (you can find them currently at Midtown Global Market) to a super cute vintage food truck in the new Food Truck Alley. Here you'll find their freshly made croissants, tarts, cookies and more.
Known as a Minnesota institution for its Arabic, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern offerings, Holy Land Deli is bringing its hummus, kebabs, falafel and more to MSP in a bright green truck, located in Food Truck Alley.
The popular spot for tasty burgers and beer gets a spot with a view. Long tables and a full bar are situated at the end of Food Truck Alley, next to the Red Cow to-go window. Diners can enjoy a full sit-down dining experience with a great view of the tarmac.
Angel Food Bakery
Pastries, cupcakes and yes, even a donut bar is now available for travelers in Concourse E, starting at 4 a.m. Sit, watch and drool as donuts are crafted, satisfy your sweet tooth and dive into a selection of donuts, award-winning French crullers and more.
LoLo American Kitchen & Craft Bar
LoLo -- a shortened version of Locally Owned, Locally Operated -- has expanded its original location in Stillwater to travelers in search of a local taste at the end of Concourse E. The "gourmet street food" menu focuses on local ingredients whenever possible and pairs its entrees with signature craft cocktails that highlight local distilleries.
A contemporary gastropub that's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner that features local music (from the McNally Smith College of Music), pub fare and craft beer.
Looking for a taste of the Minnesota sports scene without the trip to the stadium? MSP now has you covered. Twins Grill is a sports bar full of Minnesota Twins memorabilia, plus the bar itself is shaped like an infield. Oh, and if you need to get an update on the game, they've got you covered with 29 flat screen TVs.
Think they're missing something? Not to fret. Officials say they've finalized phase two of the redevelopment at MSP and are currently reviewing 30 different restaurant opportunities -- with a final list to be announced this fall.
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