Holy Land, located on Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis, is a Twin Cities institution. It is not only one of the most iconic immigrant markets in the area, it is one of the most iconic markets period. When I began my series of posts on immigrant markets I didn’t think I would ever profile a place like Holy Land because, after all, anyone interested in finding out more about these markets wouldn’t need to be told about Holy Land. But then in the last few weeks I had conversations with a number of people who’ve lived here longer than we have and who’d never been to Holy Land. In the hope therefore of reducing by even a little the numbers of the sorry people of whom this is true, here is an extensive look at what you can find in Holy Land and why you should go shop there this weekend.
Holy Land originally opened in 1986. It was apparently a much smaller store then. It moved to its current location at 2513 Central in 1994. Famous at first for their pita and other Middle Eastern items not easily found then in the Twin Cities, in the intervening years Holy Land has expanded and has also become one of the centers of Muslim life in the Twin Cities—they are famous for their iftar meal service during Ramadan. Their reach has also expanded: they supply products to other local stores and co-ops; and they also operate a smaller satellite location in the excellent Midtown Global Market on Lake Street in Minneapolis. (You can read more on the store history on their own website.)
Renovations a few years ago have transformed the mothership’s look quite drastically. It used to be a somewhat chaotic store but is now rather spiffy and streamlined, with the cashiers no longer near the entrance from the parking lot. The restaurant is also now split off more clearly from the market side of things and also has been updated. Thankfully, none of these changes have affected what’s on offer. You can still get your range of feta cheeses (I recommend the Bulgarian) and olive oils and Middle Eastern and North African spices and, most importantly (for me anyway), excellent goat and lamb and other meats from their full-service meat counter (where else in the Twin Cities can you find such a range of goat and lamb offal or, wait for it, wait for it, camel meat?). And yes, there’s a lot more available here besides, as you will see below.
To take a look and be seduced, please launch the slideshow below. Then scroll down to see what’s coming next.
I had hoped to return to Holy Land soon to have a meal at their refurbished deli/restaurant—it’s been some years since we last ate there—and report on it, but it’s not likely to happen till 2019. I’m going to be out of town for a while from the end of the month and I don’t think I’m going to be able to get there for a meal before I leave—though I do have to go back this week to get a couple of whole goat legs (for Thanksgiving this year I am roasting goat leg instead of turkey). In 2019 I’ll also have reports on a couple of Indian stores in the relative vicinity and also on Dong Yang, the major Korean store in the Twin Cities.
Next week, however, I’ll have a report on another excellent Vietnamese meal on University Ave. in St. Paul. That might be my last Minnesota food report for 2018.