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Inside Keiko’s Kitchen, Uptown’s Fun and Funky New Vegan Bodega

The popular Black-owned vegan pop-up has a permanent home, and it's cute as hell.

left: oyster chik'n in front of the colorful keiko's sign; right: Keiko in the kitchen frying food
Facebook: Keiko's Kitchen

There's a colorful new bodega at Lake and Bryant—but it doesn't stock the Doritos, taquitos, and other junk food you'll find on most corner store shelves. This is Keiko's, an alkaline bodega and herb shop that's the first of its kind in Minnesota.

Mykela Jackson—aka Keiko—started eating vegan about five years ago and never looked back. "I was really seeing the way it was healing my body, and just overall making me feel better," she says. Before long, she'd started learning more about herbalism, dabbling in teas and oils and other health supplements, and, about a year into veganism, she transitioned to an alkaline diet.

(For the uninitiated, alkaline eating is a plant-based practice that's kind of the opposite of the trendy Keto diet; rather than emphasizing animal fats and proteins, it's all about fruits, vegetables, and grains, with an emphasis on keeping your pH in balance.)

Jackson shared that journey on an Instagram account she called Keiko's Kitchen, building a small following of like-minded plant fans, and started thinking about how she could make Keiko's Kitchen a full-time gig. "I just found my passion in creating these recipes and sharing them with people," she says, with an emphasis on bringing healthy vegan options into Black communities.

She'd worked front-of-house in the food and drink industry for some time, but transitioned to back-of-house roles, working in the Breaking Bread Cafe and eventually becoming head chef at Trio Plant-Based, the Black-owned vegan restaurant at Lyn-Lake. She connected with NEON, the Northside Economic Opportunity Network‚ and, with their guidance, started hosting plant-based pop-ups throughout north Minneapolis and eventually began selling teas and herbal supplements on her website.

And then, she started posting on TikTok, where Keiko's Kitchen really took off, quickly amassing almost 100,000 followers.

All of which brings us to Keiko's Alkaline Bodega and Tea Shop, which opened at 904 W. Lake St. in Minneapolis about three weeks ago. The space is splashy and colorful—the walls, Jackson and a few artist friends spray-painted with fruits and veggies, hearts and flowers—and the bright-red and yellow shelves are stocked with healthy snacks and ingredients.

The food here is 100% plant-based: spelt flour, amaranth grain, plant-based milks, boxes of garbanzo beans, teas, gummies, cold-pressed juices. During the week, you can find chickpea "tuna," seasoned quinoa salads, collard greens, and more in Keiko's deli. And on "Soulful Saturdays," stop by for hot fried oyster chk’n sandwiches, greens, and candied squash—"a pretty simple menu" that Jackson plans to stick with for a while, maybe rotating in some of the other hot foods she perfected at her pop-ups.

"It's been amazing, honestly," she says of the last three weeks, with a slow and steady stream of people who found her on TikTok or Instagram stopping by the new store. The new bodega is just the latest in her ongoing mission: bringing affordable and accessible health foods into minority communities.

"It's a problem in today's society for people to not be able to afford good food, or have food readily available in their area," she says. "Our mission is to bridge the gap between health and minority communities."

Keiko's Kitchen
904 W. Lake St., Minneapolis
Tuesday - Sunday, 12 - 6 p.m.

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