Red Emma's used to be a tiny sub-street level coffee shop and bookstore on St. Paul Street. It was mostly frequented by activists and occasional office workers in need of a caffeine fix. Now it is a cavernous cafe, bookshop, classroom, and performance space in the rapidly growing Station North Arts District. There are still a lot of young activists and artists frequenting the place, but the service population has definitely expanded to encompass a broader swath of city residents. This is definitely a good thing, as Emma's has a lot to offer. As a worker-owned collective, Red Emma's is a shining example of how things can be done differently and better even within a broken capitalist system. Relevant to this Happy Cow review are, of course, their food choices. They are making an effort to provide low-cost fresh, healthy food to everyone in a city where this kind of desperately needed food is often off-limits to lower income folks.
The menu at Emma's has expanded significantly since their St. Paul days. They still offer a full array of fair trade coffee (now roasted in-house) and tea, but now also sell local (all vegan) beer. Their food continues to be all vegetarian, and much of it is vegan. The menu holds a good mix of sandwiches, soups, and salads, as well as some heartier meals. They also make various breakfast bagels as well as serving a weekend brunch. They always have a selection of delicious baked goods, including such rare delicacies as vegan whoopie pies and cinnamon buns.
The atmosphere is modern industrial. It is cool to see how they reclaimed this building. The bones were left intact and enhance the worker-focused aesthetic of the place. The original ceramic floor is stunning. Huge windows ensure that the space is always full of light, making it an ideal place to sit and read while enjoying a hot beverage and one of those delicious baked goods.
Cons: seating sometimes limited