Kosher cafe serves up creative options

Raiza Beltran

The only Twin Cities kosher restaurant opened its doors earlier this fall at Hillel, the University’s Jewish student center.
Adding to the already-diverse selection of campus dining options, Newkirk’s New Kosher Cafe offers vegetarian-kosher fare in the lower level of Hillel, located at 1521 University Ave. S.E.
“We make almost everything from scratch,” said cafe owner John Newkirk, who also owns a Minneapolis-based catering business specializing in kosher entrees.
Kosher food is prepared according to Jewish dietary laws. Mixing meat and dairy products is prohibited, making for good vegetarian menus, Newkirk said.
At Hillel all products are bought under a rabbi’s supervision.
“Any canned or frozen products must be thoroughly inspected,” he said. “There must be no contamination.”
Newkirk said he found a great need in the Jewish community for a place to dine. “We’ve received wonderful feedback,” he said.
Arnie Frishman said he travels from downtown almost daily to eat in Newkirk’s kosher cafe. As an orthodox Jew, he only eats kosher meals.
“I had no place to go to eat out and had to bring food every day,” Frishman said. “(The restaurant) is only five minutes away, and they serve excellent food.”
Although the cafe is popular in the Jewish community, Newkirk said he needs to attract more customers for the restaurant to survive.
“My intention from the get-go is to get the general public in here,” Newkirk said. “We have damn good vegetarian food.”
Newkirk said he hopes his restaurant will fill the niche left by the Cafe of the Americas by offering “quality products for reasonable prices.” The Newman Center restaurant closed April 2.
The menu changes daily, but homemade soups and fresh salads are staples. Specials include mango salmon, spinach pie and grilled vegetable salad.
Salads are often prepared and fixed in front of customers. Homemade-baked desserts and speciality coffee are also available.
Omar Delmoral, a graduate student in Spanish and Portuguese, regularly visits the cafe.
“It’s quiet here. It’s clean and a nice environment,” said Delmoral, who used to spend his time in coffee shops where he found it hard to concentrate. “Dinkytown needs more places like this. The food is affordable for students, healthy and very good.”
Mollie Barnstein, a student in social work, agreed.
“It’s nice to have a kosher restaurant in Hillel,” she said. “Everyone is welcome here. I suggest people try (the food) out.”

Raiza Beltran covers student life and student government and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3221.