The City Space

Cultivating Urban Understanding

Butter Bakery and Cafe


I hope that in every place you live you are able to call one café your home. Maybe you have three of them, maybe your café is nothing more than a booth on a street corner, but I hope that you have at least one spot where you can hunker down and enjoy some food and comfort.


For me, that place is Butter Bakery and Café in South Minneapolis. It’s a restaurant I’ve been frequenting for nearly a decade and it has always been an emblem of hospitality and provision. Butter is owned by the father of one of my dearest friends (whom I’ve also known for a decade). He started the business in 2004 in a small storefront on the corner of 35th and Grand, but a dazzlingly successful Kickstarter campaign took Butter to a new, bigger location at 37th and Nicollet last year. The new digs offer loads of natural light, plenty of seating, and smooth service.

With Fair Trade coffee and specialty drinks (try the “Buttered Ice”) Butter serves as the ideal coffee shop in which to get cozy with your laptop, homework or a book. On top of that, Butter’s exquisite treats also make it my number one destination for catching up with friends on a Saturday afternoon. Butter’s meltingly sweet éclairs are famous throughout the Twin Cities, but the cupcakes and a Minnesota signature—Special K bars— are also not to be missed. My personal favorite food is the scones, which I credit with initiating my love for scones in the first place. I may or may not have convinced the owner’s daughter to clue me in on their secret recipe…

biscuit sandwich


As if the coffee and treat options weren’t enough, Butter also scores points for being a lovely spot for a casual brunch or lunch. The Egg and Cheese Biscuit is an instant classic. Pancakes, omelets and oatmeal are also great options, and everything is thoughtfully served alongside a trademark slice of fruit or a delicate salad. Get there early on a Saturday or Sunday morning because those are definitely the busiest occasions, but I hope you’ve got a little time to spare on your weekends anyway. For a quick weekday bite, a slice of quiche or a homemade sandwich are all you need. I’m told the Turkey Tom sandwich is a particularly popular item and I’m eager to try it on my next visit. All the items are under $8.

Butter sources most of its ingredients locally and organically. The café’s butter comes from Minnesota staple, Hope Creamery, and many of its meats, grains, sweeteners and veggies are also from local farms. One favorite is the Youth Farm and Market Project, an organization that runs urban farming summer camps for Twin Cities kids. Also notable are the refreshing Joia Sodas crafted in St. Paul, MN that fill Butter’s drink case. In short, when you eat at Butter, you aren’t just supporting one café in South Minneapolis; you’re supporting dozens of local farms and artisans across Minnesota.



Eating at Butter also supports an innovative partnership with the homeless youth residence with which the café shares its building. Youth are able to intern for three-month periods at Butter and gain hands-on experience working for this thriving business in their neighborhood. In addition to the internship program, Butter supports the community and the world through composting, a zero waste policy, discounts for students, discounts for public transport users, and a commitment to hosting local meetings and concerts. Butter is far more than a café; it’s an anchor and a builder in the community.

I’ve watched Butter grow from a dream at a friend’s kitchen table to a robust, delicious business that develops community and supports Minneapolis in a myriad of ways. Having lived all over the country in the last few years, I am consistently comforted by a meal at Butter and I don’t truly feel like I’m home until I’ve had it.

Other notable articles about Butter can be found at the Heavy Table and the Star Tribune.


5 thoughts on “Butter Bakery and Cafe

  1. Thanks Rachel – I appreciate your long arc of the story as well as your willingness to share your personal favorites.
    One clarification…,we dropped the popular Special K bars, but only because we committed to eliminating corn syrup from the shop (a staple in the recipe) as well as to cutting our connection to our source for the cereal (a large “food service” corporation) to be able to allow small, independent, family-run distributors to help us source more ingredients. Other bars have filled the void, don’t miss my personal favorite – another Minnesota classic – the lemon bar!


  2. Sounds like a terrific place. I’ll be sure to check it out when I’m in Minneapolis!


  3. Pingback: Roadblocks to Progress: Summer Construction and Small Business Struggles | The City Space

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