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Native Flavors

Across the United States, a remarkable culinary movement is under way.

Indigenous foods have historically been hard to find, but a growing number of chefs and cultural advocates are working to change this. They have a deep dedication to authentic Indigenous culinary artistry, a commitment to sustainability and local sourcing, and a passion for sharing the rich heritage of Native American communities.

Through them, visitors can step into a world where traditional Indigenous foods are not only accessible but celebrated, each dish telling the story of its people, history and land.

These extraordinary venues, from renowned restaurants to dynamic cooking classes and festive gatherings, wait to be explored by group travelers.

Indian Pueblo Kitchen

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tucked inside Albuquerque’s Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, the renowned Indian Pueblo Kitchen invites patrons on an authentic Indigenous culinary journey, highlighted by inventive Native American cuisine and the legendary warmth of Pueblo hospitality.

“Indian Pueblo Kitchen has operated in one form or another since the early 1980s and is well known for its Pueblo oven bread, Indian taco, variety of stews and remarkable hospitality,” said Monique Fragua, chief operating officer at Indian Pueblo Kitchen.

Indian Pueblo Kitchen is owned by New Mexico’s 19 Pueblos and features the flavors of their Native communities.

“The Indian Pueblo Kitchen is much more than a restaurant; it is a cultural experience with foods that remind us of home,” said Fragua. “Our culinary team brings the flavors of our Pueblo communities to our delicious made-from-scratch recipes.

“Our menu features selected items grown at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center’s award-winning Resilience Garden. From peaches in our pies to amaranth grown for our recipes, we’re thankful to have a wonderful partner to help us secure produce. The restaurant’s dishes also feature staples of New Mexico cuisine, including white hominy, beans, corn, and red and green chile.”

For groups that want  to immerse themselves in this rich dining experience, the restaurant offers both cozy indoor seating and a vibrant outdoor patio. After a hearty meal, they can explore the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center’s rotating museum exhibitions, lectures,  hands-on activities and workshops.

indianpueblokitchen.org

Owamni Restaurant

Minneapolis

Chef Sean Sherman founded award-winning Owamni in Minneapolis to celebrate Native American ingredients and foodways. Born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Sherman has always been passionate about reconnecting with his heritage through food.

“At Owamni, we look at the world through a decolonized lens,” said Owamni’s public relations manager, Jennifer Weismann. “We serve only wild game and ingredients that are indigenous to the Americas — bison, elk, venison, duck, geese, plus locally foraged mushrooms and crab apples.”

Special tasting menus that change with the seasons explore the diversity of flavors that indigenous ingredients offer. Owamni’s executive Chef Lee Garman creates the recipes by researching Indigenous ways of cooking. “We then modernize them for the modern kitchen,” said Weismann. “All of the ingredients we use were in the Americas pre-1491, before the Columbus ‘exchange.’”

Owamni prioritizes purchasing from local and national Indigenous food producers and has removed colonial ingredients such as beef, pork, chicken, wheat flour, cane sugar and dairy from its dishes. The restaurant’s extensive wine list is predominantly BIPOC winemakers, with a focus on Indigenous producers.

“Owamni emphasizes job creation by featuring a majority Native staff, offering Indigenous products developed by Native food producers and showcasing true North American Indigenous foods and culture,” Weismann said.

owamni.com

Four Directions Cooking Classes

Denver

Adopted from Venezuela and raised in rural Ohio, Denver chef Andrea Murdoch carries her Indigenous Andean roots into every dish she makes. “My culture and life experiences influence the dishes I create,” Murdoch said.

Today, she works as a private chef and offers catering services, but one of her favorite things to do is run group classes that capture the essence of Indigenous cooking while they shy away from mass-produced factory-farm food in favor of locally grown and Native-produced ingredients.

“We predominantly use pre-colonial ingredients with a few exceptions like all-purpose flour in our original blue cornmeal sugar cookie recipe,” said Murdoch. “All of our animal proteins are pre-colonial too, so we use buffalo, rabbit, quail, turkey and duck and abstain from ingredients like beef, pork and chicken.”

Just like her menus, Murdoch makes sure the group cooking classes follow the rhythm of the seasons. She often rolls out four to six different classes centered on four main themes (seafood, meat, plant-based and baking) throughout the year.

“Our current baking class is for a Ute corn swirl cake, where we make two different recipes and then have a critical discussion about the differences based on the ingredient substitutions we made,” she said.

Murdoch also runs The Rooted Andina Community Nights, an exchange experience that allows visitors to explore Native Indigenous culture through Indigenous science and food. During these events, which can be booked for private groups, visitors tour the Pachamama5453 project, where indigenous ingredients are grown and then used in recipes, before being led to an outdoor gathering for a four-course Indigenous chef’s table. As each course is brought out to diners, Murdoch will discuss the crop etymology and use of ingredients.

fourdirectionscuisine.com

Schemitzun Festival

Mashantucket, Connecticut

At the Mashantucket Pequot Cultural Grounds, the Schemitzun Festival is a vibrant celebration of Indigenous culture held every August. Schemitzun — meaning ‘Feast of Green Corn and Dance’ — is an homage to the agricultural cycle of Native American tribes, particularly their reverence for the corn harvest.

Visitors can taste an array of Indigenous cuisine at the festival — from fire-roasted corn on the cob to savory bison stew, chowders and wild game prepared in the old ways. Modern favorites like Indian tacos, bison burgers and freshly made fry bread are also on the menu. All food is prepared by celebrated New England Native chefs who honor traditional recipes and select natural, locally sourced ingredients.

But there’s more to Schemitzun than great food. In addition to a traditional corn blessing, the festival also features vibrant tribal dances, drumming, live music and artists selling their crafts. At the festival’s 17th-century Eastern Woodland Village exhibit, Pequot cultural traditions come to life during demonstrations of fire-pit cooking, basketry and beadwork.

schemitzun.com

Tocabe Restaurant and Indigenous Marketplace

Denver

As the only restaurant in Denver that offers a full menu of Native American food, Tocabe’s mission has always been to remove the barriers and challenges that make Native foods inaccessible.

“On our menu, you can find Indian tacos with house-made fry bread, grain bowls including wild rice, wheatberries, green chili stew and bison chili — all made with traditional and Native ingredients,” said Ben Jacobs, co-founder of Tocabe and member of the Osage Nation.

“We live and operate by the philosophy ‘Native first, local second’ so we do our best to source all of our ingredients from Native producers and suppliers first,” said Jacobs, who added that one of their most popular dishes is Iko’s Green Chili Stew. “Another fan favorite is our bison ribs, cured for 24 hours, then slowly braised in a rich bison stock before being glazed and grilled with berry barbecue sauce.”

After a hearty meal at the restaurant, visitors can stock up on traditional ingredients at the restaurant’s online Indigenous Marketplace or order one of Tocabe’s Harvest Meals.

“The meals can be ordered online to ship nationwide and are fully cooked, allowing recipients to simply heat and enjoy,” said Jacobs. “Our Harvest Meals are the very same meals as our direct-to-tribe ready meal program, which provides nutritious meals that we deliver monthly to Spirit Lake Nation.”

tocabe.com

Miijim

La Pointe, Wisconsin

Nestled on La Point, Wisconsin’s serene Madeline Island — known to the Ojibwe people as Mooningwanekaaning — Miijim marries local Native American flavors with elegant French flair.

Chef Bryce Stevenson, a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, lends his culinary expertise to Miijim’s kitchen. Drawing from his rich experiences leading the Indigenous Food Lab and his tenure at the esteemed Hotel Fauchère, Stevenson infuses every plate served at Miijim with his culinary finesse.

The menu at Miijim features dishes that spotlight non-colonial meats like deer, elk and rabbit, all paired with the island’s wild edibles, from mushrooms and ramps to chaga and bergamot.

At Miijim, each dish not only pleases the palate but also tells a story of the land and its first people. Whether it’s through a specially curated wine pairing or a seasonal menu that celebrates the bounty of Madeline Island, Miijim perfectly blends culture with innovation, sustainability and culinary excellence.

Groups can also enjoy an array of local beers and a selection of fine French wines while they admire the artwork by local Indigenous artists that adorns the walls.

miijim.com