A recent article was run in the StarTribune that caught our attention for this great city on a great lake. While Duluth is a hot spot for tourists in the summer time, there are a few places new not just to those visiting, but also to those of us who call Duluth’s Bulldog Country home. We certainly can’t pass over the tried-and-true treasures of this city, either.
If you’re planning a visit to the UMD’s home city, here are a handful of places you MUST check out in between taking in the lake view and local attractions.
Your foodie adventure starts now:
Food Lovers Take Note!
The regions most inspired cooking can be found at the New Scenic Cafe, a must-visit for Duluth-bound tourists. For 14 years, chef/owner Scott Graden has taken his cues from the seasons and the local larder, crafting an eclectic array of colorful, artfully composed and subtly delicious fare at the lunch and dinner hours. The serene surroundings, expert service and picturesque location — roughly 20 exceedingly scenic minutes up the shore from downtown — only add to the experience. As for dessert, here’s hoping your server says “We have four kinds of pie tonight.” Music to anyone’s ears, as Graden’s kitchen is home to some of Minnesota’s most gifted piemakers.
Food Lovers, Keep Taking Note…
Northern Waters Smokehaus may look like a modest sandwich shop, but appearances can be deceiving. Owner Eric Goerdt presides over one of the state’s great culinary treasures. The shop’s repertoire includes sublime smoked meats (a pancetta of the gods, a bison pastrami that has to be tasted to be believed), expertly prepared chorizo and dry-cured salamis plus smoked Lake Superior whitefish and trout (try the incredible smoked whitefish sausage). All that goodness is incorporated into a dozen or so dazzling sandwiches, prime quick-serve fodder for anyone within 25 miles of Canal Park. Heck, make that 50 miles. Choosing the house-smoked porketta on stirato is a no-brainer, but don’t overlook the curry-infused smoked leg of lamb on naan, the fancy-schmancy liverwurst on a hero or the awesome corned beef brisket on rye. Goredt imports bagels from Superior’s Red Mug Bake Shop (while they won’t be mistaken for their New York City counterparts, they have a vigorously chewy pull) and liberally stuffs them with stacks of smoked Atlantic salmon and a criminal amount of scallion-enriched cream cheese. It may be Duluth’s best breakfast, a remarkable distinction for a place that doesn’t open until 10:00 am.
Picnic for Two
It’s easy to fill a picnic basket at Whole Foods Co-op, Duluth’s well-stocked natural foods supermarket (and no relation to the Whole Foods Market mega-chain). Peruse the dairy case for a small but winning selection of Midwestern cheese, then stock up on olives at the salad bar and dried fruits and nuts in the bulk-food aisles. Make a meal from the deli’s prepared-to-order sandwich board, or grab a few freshly prepared spreads — cilantro and edamame hummus, roasted red pepper, curried tofu — tailor-made for swiping across rustic loaves from the skilled bakers at Ashlnad Baking Co. in Ashland, Wis. Wash it all down with Minnesota-made Joia sodas. The city certainly has its share of impromptu picnic locations, including Enger Park, Park Point and Chester Bowl parks. But another lovely spread-the-blanket destination is the inviting green lawn — and adjacent rose garden — at Leif Erikson Park. It boasts magnificent Lake Superior views — and breezes — and it’s about 12 blocks from the store.
Cool, Cool Treats
The reflex response is to head to the adorably nostalgic PortLand Malt Shoppe, a walk-up lakefront landmark for scoops, sundaes, floats, shakes and malts. But consider dropping in on the nearby Va Bene Caffe, Duluth’s top-performing Italian restaurant, where the scoop case contains a dozen ever-changing, full-flavored varieties of gelato and sorbetto. Dining in? The restaurant’s porch just might boast the city’s most enchanting lake views.
Come One, Come All, For the Brew!
Bursting with energy, great looks, an exceptional location and a rare lakeside patio, Canal Park Brewing Co. has a lot going for it. There’s beer, of course, bred on-site in a showy facility. But the kitchen also deserves points for turning out a wide range of beer-friendly fare. Think sports bar with a contemporary twist: warm, salty soft pretzels with beer-infused mustard, tangy pickled herring on rye toast, creamy deviled eggs, beer-Cheddar soup, ridiculously huge burgers, a snappy-skinned grilled bratwurst with pungent sauerkraut, ale-bruised corned beef sandwiches and more. It’s the best addition to its namesake neighborhood in years.
(Content provided by Rick Nelson, “Destination Duluth: Where to eat right now” in the July 12, 2013 issue of the StarTribune)