The Nankin Café

Weird Nicollet Tour, Minneapolis

The Nankin Café

Minneapolis, Minnesota 55407, United States

Created By: Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District


20 S 7th Street, Between Nicollet and Hennepin Avenues

Here on 7th Street, between Nicollet and Hennepin Avenues, once sat possibly the most influential restaurant in Minneapolis history: the Nankin Café, which spawned dozens of imitators and helped give birth to American Chinese cuisine. The large restaurant existed here in downtown beginning in 1919 and lasted to around 1990, just a few doors down from Nicollet Avenue.

The café was a huge place, and had 36 waiters on staff for a typical lunch rush. It was a two-story room, with tables lining the outside walls, and an elegant curving staircase painted in blue, red and gold curving through the middle. Under the grand stairs, there was a pool and fountain lit by Chinese glass lanterns, and inside the fountain lived a turtle who would delight patrons of all ages.

Probably Nankin’s most famous invention was a drink they called the wanderer’s punch -- almost sometimes mistakenly referred to as the “wondrous punch” -- that was a mix of potent rums and liquors. Served in a giant goblet, the punch was a powerful concoction

According to one remembrance, “it was called the wanderer because when you try to get up from your bar stool you would commonly find yourself unable to walk a straight line.”

Today the punch recipe has also wandered through the city, and can be found in various forms at nearby bars and restaurants.


This point of interest is part of the tour: Weird Nicollet Tour, Minneapolis


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