In Native American restaurants across the U.S., age-old recipes and ingredients meet modern innovation to showcase a vital part of our food history. Many of us have limited knowledge of the foods that shaped this land before colonization. However, native restaurants can help. With 574 federally recognized Native American tribes in the U.S., it's surprising there aren't more restaurants featuring indigenous foods. Some states have several such restaurants, while others have none.
About half of the restaurants on our list are located on museum or cultural center grounds. Another common denominator, regardless of tribal affiliation, is fry bread, a menu item that was born from rations the U.S. government provided while relocating tribes to reservations.
The restaurants listed here range from fast food spots to fine dining establishments with gourmet menus. While there are more native restaurants to explore throughout the country, we've listed some of the best places you can go to experience native American cuisine. We chose these restaurants based both on customer reviews and personal experience.
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Aaimpa' Café - Sulphur, Oklahoma
867 Charles Cooper Memorial Rd., Sulphur, OK 73086
You'll find the Aaimpa' Café at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, Oklahoma. In the Chickasaw language, "aimpa'" means "a place to eat," a fitting name for a dining establishment. The restaurant's sunny, windowed seating overlooks an amphitheater, leading many visitors to head over for programs after dining. The nearby Spiral Garden and Three Sisters Garden provide many of the restaurant's vegetables while demonstrating the indigenous method of companion planting.
One of the most popular dishes at the café is its tacos made with fry bread. Another popular menu item is the Chickasaw and Choctaw dish known as pashofa, a soup that contains hominy and pork. Other options include Three Sisters Salad, grilled buffalo burgers, and venison stew. For dessert, try the grape dumplings. The restaurant offers several of its recipes on its website so you can try them at home, but you'd be missing out if you didn't get to make the trip to this spot yourself.
Aaimpa' Café is open from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. It is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Black Sheep Cafe - Provo, Utah
19 N. University Ave., Provo, UT 84601
The Black Sheep Cafe serves native American Southwestern fusion cuisine in Provo, Utah. Everything is made from scratch, and the recipes often change to reflect what's available. Despite its elegant and welcoming feel, some note that the restaurant can get a little cramped and loud — but just because it's popular, and for good reason.
Some of the standout menu items include hog jowl nachos, cactus pear lemonade, a variety of Navajo tacos, pozole, and honey lavender fry bread.
You'll find Black Sheep Cafe in downtown Provo near the Marriott Hotel and the Provo City Center Temple. The restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. during the week. It stays open an extra 30 minutes Friday and Saturday, doesn't open until noon on Saturday, and is closed on Sunday. Be sure to get a reservation, as it often gets busy.
Fry Bread House - Phoenix
4545 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85013
Fry Bread House first opened in 1992, serving food from the Tohono O'odham tribe's culinary tradition. Everyone who works here is indigenous, though they aren't all members of the Tohono O'odham tribe. The restaurant is so unpretentious that, when it won the James Beard Award in 2012, owner Cecelia Miller didn't know what she was winning and told them to call back when she wasn't so busy with customers. According to Google reviewers, you can still expect a casual spot with friendly service.
Menu items are heavily influenced by Mexican cuisine because the Tohono O'odham tribal lands are traditionally located south of the border and up through central Arizona. The restaurant started with just three menu items: fry bread, Indian tacos, and dessert fry bread served up with honey and sugar. Now, you'll also find Mexican food items like tamales, tacos, posole, and burros on the menu alongside seven types of fry bread tacos, sweet and savory fry breads, and stews.
The restaurant is located about a mile and a half northeast of Steele Indian School Park and just north of the Grand Canal in Phoenix. It's open from 11:00 a.m. until 8:00 a.m. every day, except Sunday.
Indian Pueblo Kitchen - Albuquerque
2401 12th St. NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104
You'll find Indian Pueblo Kitchen inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The owners and employees come from among the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico. Reviewers on Google note that the restaurant has a cozy and calm setting with friendly service.
Menu items take inspiration from native traditions, and many ingredients and spices in the dishes come from local sources. For example, you'll see blue corn on the menu, along with red and green chiles, fry bread, elk, bison, and piñon seeds. You'll also see plenty of Mexican dishes and fusion items. Customers writing on Google talk most about the restaurant's fry bread, blue corn onion rings, enchiladas, bison stew, and elk chili.
The Indian Pueblo Kitchen is adjacent to the gift shop at the cultural center. It's open from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. every day except Monday, when it's closed. You can eat indoors, at the bar, or outside on the patio.
Kai - Phoenix
5594 W. Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Phoenix, AZ 85226
Kai's cuisine comes from the culinary traditions of the Akimal O'otham and Pee Posh tribes. The food has Native, Southwestern, and international fusion flair, using many locally-grown ingredients. Kai's food and experience have earned it AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star restaurant status. Since there is a dress code at Kai, be sure to arrive in business casual or formal attire. The tables are well-spaced and the music is soft to give you an intimate dining experience. Outdoor seating is also available.
The restaurant provides a tasting menu with many ingredients coming from the Native Seed/SEARCH Foundation, which preserves native seeds. The cost is typically $185 per person or $330 with wines. A Google reviewer explains that the service didn't stop there. "We were given a thorough history lesson on tribal artwork, food, culture, and how it is expressed throughout the restaurant and dining experience. The menu itself takes you on its own journey, and a very special one at that."
Kai is on the grounds of the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Arizona. While dining, you can enjoy lovely views of the Komatke mountain range. You'll need to make a reservation between 5:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., with the restaurant closed Sunday and Sunday.
Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe - Washington, D.C.
Independence Ave. SW & 4th St. SW, Washington, DC 20004
Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe is located in the National Museum of the American Indian, which is part of the Smithsonian. The word "mitsitam" means "let's eat" in the Delaware and Piscataway languages. However, the cafe showcases food from a variety of native culinary traditions from North and South America. For even more variety, the menu changes based on what's in season.
The restaurant is arranged like a food court, with each station featuring one of five native culinary regions. You can order off the menu or have a Chef's Table experience, which includes both food and an introduction to the restaurant, the five culinary regions it explores, and related history. Prices for the experience range from $11.95 to $55 per person. Menu items customers talk about most include the restaurant's Indian tacos, bison chili, and salmon.
Sightseers will be glad to hear that the restaurant is less than a mile from the U.S. Capitol. You can find the restaurant on the first level of the museum near the museum store and Rasmuson Theater. It's open every day of the week from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Off The Rez - Seattle
4300 15th Ave. NE, Seattle, WA 98105
Off the Rez is another Native American restaurant located inside a museum -- the Burke Museum at the University of Washington. However, you don't need to pay museum admission to enjoy the restaurant. According to visitors, it has a warm, welcoming environment and offers both indoor and outdoor seating.
As for what's on the menu, you can enjoy both breakfast and lunch fry bread-based options here. Some of the fry bread toppings customers enjoy most are chili, bison, and pulled pork, while there are also sweet fry bread options. Besides fry bread, the restaurant serves wild rice bowls, salads, pastries, and an array of coffee-based beverages. In addition to its museum location, Off the Rez also has a food truck that travels throughout Seattle and offers a few additional menu items such as burgers and fries.
The restaurant is open from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. every day of the week except Monday. As for the food truck, check its Facebook page for up-to-date locations and times.
Owamni By The Sioux Chef - Minneapolis
420 S. 1st St., Minneapolis, MN 55401
The name of the Owamni restaurant comes from the Mni Sota Makoce (Dakota for "The Land Where the Waters Reflect the Clouds"). The restaurant prides itself on using only pre-colonial, non-European ingredients. Thus, you won't find fry bread, sugar, wheat, or dairy on the menu at chef Sean Sherman's restaurant. The meat is wild-caught and the produce only comes from plants that are native to North America. What's more, those ingredients come from local or national Native American farmers where possible and the staff is also mainly native. This restaurant opened in 2021 and had already won a James Beard Award by 2022. Customers clearly agree it's worth the visit, calling it nothing short of outstanding and superb.
You won't miss post-colonial ingredients at Owamni. Instead, you'll find the seasonal menus filled with gourmet items made with ingredients like wild rice, bison, corn tortillas, pumpkin, fish, elk, venison, duck, mushrooms, honey, and pawpaws. One Google reviewer says, "The crickets were fun to try and the popcorn made them more approachable."
You can find Owamni next to Water Works Park in the Gateway District of Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can enjoy both indoor and outdoor dining between 11:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. every day except Monday.
Thirty Nine - Oklahoma City
659 First Americans Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73129
Thirty Nine refers to the 39 tribes that either always lived in or were relocated to Oklahoma. Since it opened in 2021, it has used many ingredients sourced from Native Americans, local producers, and producers in nearby states. The restaurant is located in the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Thirty Nine's indigenous chefs seek to use local ingredients. You'll find modern menu items like hummus, sliders, skillets, or pesto made with native ingredients. Meat includes local game like bison and turkey and grains include corn, rice, and amaranth. Meanwhile, the dishes are made flavorful with ingredients like sumac, hibiscus, piñon, chickweed, sage, garlic, and wild onions. Brunch is especially popular. Visitors have lauded its relaxing vibe and called it, simply, divine.
While the restaurant is in the museum, you won't need to pay museum admission to eat there if you use the Xchange Theater door to enter. It's open from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. every day, except Monday and Tuesday.
Tiwa Kitchen - Taos, New Mexico
328 Veterans Hwy., Taos, NM 87571
Tiwa Kitchen serves native foods from the people of the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico, with some recipes handed down from the owners' great-grandparents. Owners Ben and Debbie Sandoval, along with family and friends, constructed the restaurant from the ground up using traditional building methods in 1992, including hand-crafted paint and adobe ovens known as hornos. You'll find local ingredients on the menu, including bison sourced from the Taos Pueblo herd. While you could eat inside the restaurant in the past, there are currently no dine-in options (though the restaurant plans to change that soon). Right now, plan to use the drive-through window or pay for catering.
Breakfast includes eggs, bacon, chili, fry bread, burritos, and pancakes. Lunch and dinner consists of tacos, burritos, enchiladas, Frito pie, and various burgers, among other options.
Tiwa Kitchen is about a half mile southeast of the Taos Pueblo on Veteran's Highway. Breakfast and lunch hours are 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday with evening hours from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. It's closed on the weekend.
Tocabe - Denver
3536 W. 44th Ave., Denver, CO 80211
Tocabe opened in Denver, Colorado in 1989, sourcing ingredients from both native and local producers while combining modern and traditional native flavors. There were once two locations, but the owners have since converted one into a fulfillment center for the restaurant's online market, which includes dried goods and prepared meals. The restaurant has a casual atmosphere with a walk-up counter for ordering.
When we visited Tocabe, we were impressed by how friendly the menu was to a variety of dietary needs, from vegetarian to gluten-free. You can choose an Indian taco, melting pot salad, stuffed fry bread, medicine wheel nachos, or a posu grain bowl. This includes up to two proteins, four toppings, and two or three salsas (depending on your order). Bison ribs, stews, and chilis are also available. We were blown away by the lush flavors and unique seasonings of the braised shredded bison we chose for our Indian taco, including toppings like pickled radishes that helped elevate the dish.
The restaurant is in the Northwest area of Denver, Colorado, just south of Rocky Mountain Lake Park. Hours are 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, opening an hour later and closing an hour earlier on Sunday. It's closed all day on Monday.
Wahpepah's Kitchen - Oakland, California
3301 E. 12th St. #133, Oakland, CA 94601
Some of the main objectives of Wahpepah's Kitchen are to help reclaim native foods and educate the public on native foodways. The restaurant sources many ingredients from indigenous farmers, while the menu changes with the seasons. The restaurant features a variety of beautiful murals, as well as indoor and outdoor seating.
The menu includes Kickapoo names of dishes, which includes venison, sweet and purple potatoes, juniper berries, blue corn, hominy, bison, smoked rabbit, wild mushrooms, and elderberries, Some of the most popular dishes amongst customers are bison meatballs, tostadas, and bison tacos.
Wahpepah's Kitchen is in the Fruitvale area of Oakland, California, located in Fruitvale Village close to the BART ticket station. It opens at 11:00 a.m., closing at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, 6:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. It's closed all day on Monday and Tuesday.
Watecha Bowl - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
2305 W. Madison St., Sioux Falls, SD 57104
Watecha Bowl features Lakota food with a fast food twist. At one point, the restaurant had planned to go to a food truck-only format, but the owners have changed their minds. That's just as well, as customers have praised the well-made food, not to mention the welcoming feel of the spot, which has indoor and outdoor seating.
The menu includes Indian tacos, fry bread, fry bread cheese curds, sweet potato fries, and corndogs made with fry bread batter. You can also dine on soup, bison pot roast, bison mac and cheese, beef or bison burgers, spicy chicken sandwiches, and fries.
Watecha Bowl in the West Sioux area of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, about a half mile southwest of the Sioux Falls Convention Center. It's open from 11:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., except on Monday when it closes at 5:00 p.m. and Sunday when it's closed all day.
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