10 Places Serving Native American Cuisine
Native American food is slowly becoming more popular in the U.S. Check out these 10 spots that feature authentic and modern takes on indigenous eats.
Photo By: Caitlin Cano/Pueblo Harvest Cafe
Photo By: Constance Higley
Photo By: Dana Thompson
Photo By: Mario Tama
Photo By: Virginia Dare Winery
Photo By: Douglas Merriam
Photo By: Four by Brother Luck
Photo By: Off the Rez
Photo By: The Washington Post /Contributor
Photo By: Town of Taos
Pueblo Harvest Cafe in Albuquerque, N.M.
Pueblo Harvest Café, opened in 1976, is one of the oldest restaurants serving post-Colonial Native American food. It’s located in the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, where you can learn about New Mexico’s 19 Pueblo tribes that run the restaurant. The seasonal menu favors bison (burgers, meatloaf, carpaccio), as well as blue cornmeal, used in everything from onion rings to fried chicken. In addition to its regular offerings - posole with hominy and spiced pork, Keresan tacos with frybread and Ohkay Owingeh ovenbread pudding - Pueblo Harvest is introducing dishes that pre-date European contact this winter. Try Hazruquive stew (pictured), a corn broth flavored with cedar and loaded with white hominy, bean sprouts, and piki bread, a Hopi tradition that uses blue corn and resembles a crepe. Other pre-contact ingredients to look out for are duck, rabbit, prickly pears, Anasazi beans and manoomin wild rice.
Kai at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix
Think of Kai as a high-end journey through new Native American cuisine. The seasonal menu draws from the Pima and Maricopa tribes, so you might find a 60-day corn and Cherokee tomato bisque, hand-picked lettuce with wolfberry snow and native seed brittle, goose and rabbit with pima wheat berries or wild boar with acorn ash. Did we mention it’s earned both the AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five-Star recognition?
The Sioux Chef in Minneapolis
The Sioux Chef, a team of Native Americans from many tribes, founded by Oglala Lakota Sean Sherman, is pioneering the movement to reclaim and revitalize Native American food. This means exploring pre-Colonial food — so no sugar, dairy or anything processed — and definitely no frybread for that matter. Instead, the focus is on ancestral ingredients: foraged mushrooms and plants, game meat, fish, seeds and berries. The Sioux Chef recently closed its popular Tatanka food in Minneapolis so it can focus on opening its first restaurant in the city in 2019. In the meantime, attend a pop-up dinner, or order online catering to enjoy deviled duck eggs with smoked salt, a grilled corn sandwich squash puree, wojapi sauce and even sunflower cookies or homemade granola bars.
Pequot Cafe in Ledyard, Conn.
Pequot at the Mashantucket Museum and Research Center may be a small museum cafe, but it’s one of the few places offering native Northeastern dishes with a New England bent. For example, there are quahog fritters (fried, chopped clams), succotash stew with corn, squash and beans, fish tacos on frybread and a venison burrito with three sisters rice. If available, don’t miss the chance to try turtle soup or frog legs. The less adventurous can stick with corn chowder and apple fritters.
Werowocomoco Restaurant in Geyserville, Calif.
Perhaps the Virginia Dare Winery (owned by Francis Ford Coppola) isn’t the first place that springs to mind when it comes to Native American food. However, the winery highlights early winemaking in the U.S., and the year-old Werowocomoco (place of leadership) highlights indigenous ingredients. Though you can find frybread on the menu in the form of tacos, you can also find cedar plank salmon, a bison burger on an acorn bun and pine needle ice cream.
Maize in Santa Fe, N.M.
Upscale Maize just opened in October (next to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum), and nods to the area’s Native American past with a modern take on Southwestern cuisine. Among the native-influenced menu items are black ash tamales, a three sisters soup with corn, squash and black beans, elk tenderloin carpaccio, pork tenderloin in a smoky posole broth and forest mushroom quesadillas.
Four by Brother Luck in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Chef Brother Luck (yes, his real name), has appeared on Chopped and is among the next batch of contestants on season 15 of Top Chef. On top of that, he opened Four this past year. In a twist, this hybrid Southwestern restaurant culls from the cuisines that shaped the four corners of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. As such, native-inspired dishes are prominent. As of now, examples entail blue cornbread with wojapi sauce, goose breast with cranberry jam, and Pueblo green chile with pork.
Off the Rez in Seattle
Off the Rez bills itself as Seattle's first and only food truck specializing in Native American fare. As of now, there are only a small number of similar food trucks across the country. Off the Rez is all about burgers and fries with a native twist, as well as Indian tacos. The latter are served on handmade frybread, and you can order them with beef, chicken, veggie chile or with 12-hour barbeque pulled pork. Gluten-free corn tortillas are also available. Follow Off the Rez on Facebook for location updates.
Mitsitam Cafe in Washington, D.C.
Like other cuisines, authentic Native American food is highly regional, but a dearth of restaurants makes it difficult to try it. Enter Mitsitam Cafe at National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., where executive chef Freddie Bitsoie, from the Navajo tribe, has spent the past decade specializing in Native American ingredients. Here, you can sample indigenous dishes from five different stations, ranging from the Northwest Coast (wild rice salad) to the Great Plains (buffalo chili). Think ancestral versions of modern dishes, such as clam soup with sunchokes and leeks instead of a typical New England clam chowder.
Tiwa Kitchen Restaurant & Bakery in Taos, N.M.
Tiwa Kitchen Restaurant and Bakery has operated in the Taos Pueblo since 1993 and is worth a trip to try Pueblo cuisine — especially if you’re a chile fan. The restaurant prides itself on its sun-dried chiles made with a decades-old recipe, and you can try red and green versions in Tiwa’s stews and sauces. Another differentiator is its outdoor oven, which churns out homemade bread, cookies and seasonal fruit pies.