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7 Must-Try Restaurants in the Midwest 

by Imani Mixon

A person cuts a pizza with a fried egg on top of it
Photo Credit: Young Joni
Brunch at Young Joni, a James Beard Award winning restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Savor your social calendar with restaurants that are right in our neck of the woods.


Whether you want to venture to a new place in your city or it’s crunch time and you need to dazzle your vacation crew with dinner suggestions (and reservations), these notable Midwestern restaurants are a no-brainer. Taste-tested by the industry’s best and lauded by local foodies, these award-winning establishments have offerings that are as diverse as the people who make up our magnificent region. 

Two people of dark skin tone stand over a stove and cook out of numerous pots and pans.
Photo Credit: Baobab Fare

Baobab Fare 

6568 Woodward Avenue, Suite 100 Detroit, MI 48202 

Husband and wife team Hamissi Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere honor their Burundian roots with staples from their East African homeland. Their first location is in Detroit’s bustling Cass Corridor neighborhood, just steps from downtown. Mamba recently won an episode of Chopped, a cooking game show by the Food Network, and the pair are looking to open a second location on Detroit’s Far East Side next year. 

A seared octopus dish from Django.
Photo Credit: Django

Django 

1420 Locust  Street, Des Moines, IA 50309 

Crepes and coq au vin line this classic French cuisine menu with some of the frills, but none of the attitude. For a classier evening of private dining, you can book the accompanying Reinhardt Room and host up to 100 guests. 

A person of medium skin tone holding a knife and cutting a lime on a cutting board in a kitchen.
Photo Credit: Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining

Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining  

2043 W Howard St, Chicago, IL 60645 

After years of being drawn to her mother’s Cambodian cooking, Executive Chef Mona Sang started making traditional meals for her family and selling them to the public as a caterer. As the demand grew, she toyed around with the idea of opening a restaurant. Now, the mother-daughter duo is serving up Southeast Asian cuisine in Chicago’s North Side. They made it to the the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant lists. 

Several plates of Latin food, including what appear to be empanadas and hominy.
Photo Credit: Mita’s

Mita’s 

501 Race St, Cincinnati, OH 45202 

Farm-inspired Spanish and Latin American tapas in Downtown Cincinnati by James Beard-nominated chef Jose Salazar. Salazar also owns restaurants Salazar, Goose & Elder, and Daylily Deli. 

Two people of medium skin tone wearing aprons and cooking and plating food.
Photo Credit: The Diplomat

The Diplomat  

815 E Brady St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 

From octopus to a classic prime beef burger, The Diplomat is known for its shareable, American fare. The unassuming restaurant built in 1928 has been catering to Milwaukee’s lower east side for decades. Most recently though, chef-owner Dane Baldwin was awarded Best Chef in the Midwest by the James Beard Foundation in 2022. 

A red building exterior with a sign reading, Wagner's Village Inn.
Photo Credit: Wagner’s Village Inn

Wagner’s Village Inn 

22171 Main St, Oldenburg, IN 47036 

Opened since the late ’60s in what was once a general store, this family-friendly eatery is known for its award-winning, pan-fried chicken.  

A person of medium-light skin tone holding two pizzas in a crowded restaurant.
Photo Credit: Young Joni

Young Joni 

165 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413 

Young Joni’s celebrated chef and owner Ann Kim draws from her Korean American lineage to create imaginative pizza toppings including Korean BBQ and kimchi. Chef Kim is the first woman and first person of color from Minneapolis to be awarded “Best Chef Midwest” by the James Beard Foundation. Pizzeria Lola, Hello Pizza, and Sooki & Mimi are under the Vestalia Hospitality umbrella as well. 


  • Headshot of a person with a gentle facial expression, of medium dark skin tone and short curly black hair, poses in a chair with one hand up to their face, wearing a light pink top that closely matches the chair.

    Contributing Writer

    Imani Mixon was born and raised at the magnetic center of the world’s cultural compass — Detroit, Michigan. She is a long-form storyteller who is inspired by everyday griots who bear witness to their surroundings and report it back out. Equal parts urgent and essential, her multimedia work centers the experiences of Black women and independent artists.

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