Little Mekong is a business and cultural district in Saint Paul, located between MacKubin and Galtier streets along University Avenue. This area’s mix of retail, restaurant and service businesses are run by people from many cultures, but predominantly from Southeast Asian nations. Visitors come to Little Mekong to experience the authentic flavors of Southeast Asia.
The district took shape starting in the 1970s when Vietnamese, Hmong, Lao, Cambodians, Thai and others fled their home region due to turmoil and persecution. Many people came to Minnesota to find new lives after the Vietnam War ended. Former Gov. Wendell Anderson was a leader in the resettlement efforts. Many churches and social services agencies were also involved.
Several groups quickly formed to help the newcomers find places to live, work and worship. Like so many immigrants before them people formed mutual assistance programs to help each other.
An initiative of the Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA), Little Mekong’s mission is to develop the area around University Avenue and Western as an attractive destination for visitors and residents; to support and promote businesses during light rail construction; to share cultural traditions and activities; and to create a living, breathing, colorful district for all to enjoy. The district’s names derives from the Mekong River, which flows from China through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and connects the cultures of Southeast Asia.
The neighborhoods around Little Mekong include Frogtown and Summit-University. Little Mekong is easily accessible from I-94 via the Dale Street and Marion Street exits.