Planning a post-COVID vacation or road trip? Why not add these Native American restaurants to your itinerary! Below we’ve compiled a list of some of the best Native restaurants in the U.S. Let us know if you have another favorite Native restaurant or cafe that we may have missed!
Wahpepah’s Kitchen is owned by Crystal Wahpepah, a member of the Kickapoo Nation of Oklahoma. Located in Oakland, CA, the menu utilizes traditional foods with some modern flair and includes dishes such as bison meatballs, Kickapoo chili with bison and traditional Mayan amaranth chocolate cake.
The restaurant’s website describes, “Crystal’s objectives for Wahpepah’s Kitchen are threefold: (1) to acknowledge that we live on stolen land; and (2) how that acknowledgement connects to the reclamation of Native food ways (food sovereignty); as well as (3) to educate communities and organizations on the health benefits of Native food ways using the knowledge passed onto her.
Owamni is described as a “modern Indigenous full service establishment,” and is owned by the “Sioux Chef” Sean Sherman and Dana Thompson. If you find yourself in Minneapolis, this is a spot you won’t want to miss. Menu items include a mix of indigenous game, fish, birds and even insects and wild plants with a focus on Native American heirloom and locally-grown produce.
According to the restaurant’s website, Owamni’s “decolonized approach avoids dairy, wheat flour, cane sugar, beef, chicken & pork — colonial foods not originally from this land. We prioritize purchasing from Indigenous food producers first, while supporting the region’s amazing and diverse local food growers.”
You could also opt to visit the Tatanka Truck just outside of Owamni and try a mushroom, bison or turkey Indigenous taco. The food truck will open summer of 2022; keep an eye on the website for more information. According to the Tatanka Truck website, the food truck features “Regional Indigenous Foods from the MN and Dakota Territories. We prioritize buying our foods from local Native Producers. Our foods represent the flavors, histories, and cultures of the land we stand on.”
Opened in 2008, Tocabe is the only Native American owned and operated restaurant in metropolitan Denver. There are two locations: one in Greenwood Village and one in North Denver. The restaurant is owned by Matt Chandra and Ben Jacobs. The name comes from Grayhorse: An American Indian Eatery, established by the Jacobs family in downtown Denver in 1989. Tocabe features some of the same recipes from Grayhorse as well as Jacobs family recipes.
Located in Provo, Utah, Black Sheep Cafe features a fusion of Native American, Mexican and Southwestern cuisine. The menu is built around a selection of Navajo tacos, including Green Chile Pork, Red Chile Beef, BBQ Pork and others. They also offer more traditional dishes such as Pozole and Buffalo dishes.
Set to reopen in June 2022, Cafe Ohlone is located in Berkeley, CA. The restaurant is owned by Vincent Medina (East Bay Ohlone) and Louis Trevino (Rumsen Ohlone). The menu features Indigenous dishes such as venison backstrap, acorn flour brownies, duck breast, dandelion soup and more.
The restaurant’s website states: “Our work with mak-‘amham/Cafe Ohlone allows us to act as cultural diplomats by representing the beauty and vibrancy of our living culture in an effective way that corrects outdated stereotypes and misinformation that have lingered for far too long, while simultaneously teaching truths of our living culture, history, and unbroken, permanent relationship with the East Bay.”
Led by Diné Chef Brian Yazzie, Gatherings Cafe is located in the Minneapolis American Indian Center and features dishes that include wild game, wild rice and Native plants. In addition to running the restaurant, Yazzie runs a catering business and works to feed and support elders in the Twin Cities region.
This restaurant is located at the Pueblo Indian Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The restaurant is led by Executive Chef Ray Naranjo, who is of Native American roots from the Ancestral Pueblos of the Southwest and the Three Fires tribes of the Great Lakes. According to the website, Naranjo said his goal for the restaurant, “is to give an experience that mirrors the present-day food culture while being inclusive of ancestral Puebloan ingredients, and the ingredients that would have been available via trade routes from tribes to the south.”
Kai, meaning “seed” in the Pima language, is located at Sheraton Grand Hotel at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Arizona. According to the website, Chef de Cuisine Ryan Swanson incorporates the essence of the Pima and Maricopa tribes and locally farmed ingredients from the Gila River Indian Community to create a menu that reflects the rich Native American history and culture of the region.
Red Mesa Cuisine, led by Chef Lois Ellen Frank, Ph.D., is a catering company located in Santa Fe, NM. The restaurant brings Native American cuisine into the contemporary Southwest kitchen using traditional ingredients with modern flair. Menu options include dishes such as wood smoked trout, sweet yellow corn soup, stuffed quail, and elk tenderloin.
Formerly known as Pueblo Harvest, this Albuquerque, NM, restaurant is centered around indigenous ingredients and traditions with Pueblo hospitality. Located inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Indian Pueblo Kitchen also hosts culinary events and education, a bakery, teaching kitchen and meal pick-up options.
Mitsitam is located in the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. “Mitsitam” means “Let’s Eat!” in the Native language of the Delaware and Piscataway People. The cafe adds to the experience of the museum by offering Native American foods from both North and South America. This restaurant is temporarily closed, but keep an eye out for the reopening.
Located in Taos, New Mexico, this family-owned restaurant was built using the traditional method of Pueblo adobe making. The menu features a selection of traditional Pueblo and New Mexican dishes, such as their famous Blue Corn Tacos and Phien-tye, a traditional dish of fry bread stuffed with buffalo meat and covered in chili.
Led by Cherokee Chef Jordan Rainbolt, this Winston Salem, NC, based catering business offers pop-up dinners, a supper club and private chef catering. According to the website, the business “is driven by the desire to create authentic experiences centered around an appreciation for food and community.”
This cafe is located in the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in Ledyard, CT. The cafe features a seasonal menu of traditional and contemporary Native American cuisine “following the rhythms of traditional eastern woodland foodways,” as well as New England foods. Museum admission is not required to access the cafe.
This cafe features classic tacos, wild rice bowls and salads using fresh, local ingredients. Off the Rez Cafe is located in the Burke Museum at the University of Washington in Seattle. The cafe also features Seattle’s first Native food truck that can be found at various locations throughout the week (check the schedule here). The food truck offers tacos, burgers, fry bread and salads.
This restaurant has two locations in Sioux Falls, SD, and Norfolk, NE, and will soon be opening in Rapid City, SD. According to its website, Watecha Bowl offers “traditional Lakota food and recipes with a flair of carnival style cooking and fast food promptness with the care and culinary skills of a 5 star restaurant.” Options range from frybread to tacos to buffalo burgers and ribs.
This food truck in Columbus, Ohio, was founded by The Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio (NAICCO) in an effort to bring more public awareness to indigenous foods. The menu includes fare such as “NDN” tacos, fry bread, taco bowls and buffalo burgers. Visit the NAICCO Cuisine web page for schedule and locations.
Set to open in 2022, this restaurant in Broken Arrow, OK, focuses on bringing fresh farm to table ingredients and Native American cuisine to the modern forefront. The menu features dishes such as pork belly succotash and fillet with wojapi. Keep an eye on the website for opening dates, location and hours.