Rumor has it that the population of Duluth may more than triple this weekend with the presence of 10 Tall Ships calling Duluth Harbor home for the next couple of days. That’s right, it’s the Tall Ships Festival! Will you be among the crowd?
Maybe you’re already in town and watched the vessels sail in under the Aerial Lift Bridge yesterday afternoon, or perhaps you’re triple-checking your list as you pack up the car for a sea-faring weekend, but no matter when you arrive in this cool city, you still need to make plans to eat. Keep reading to see what new and exciting eateries Duluth has to offer, and be sure to check out last week’s picks as well.
Your Voyage Begins Now!
Beer Capitol of the Land of 10,000 Lakes
Suds-crazed Duluth has no end of opportunities for craft beer seekers (be sure to check out the user-friendly guide at www.duluthbeertrail.com). For a premium taproom experience, head west from tourist-focused Canal Park and go to Bent Paddle Brewing Co. Brewmasters Bryon Tonnis and Colin Mullen have a flair for offbeat brews, including Bent Hop, their deeply golden IPA, and the oats-packed Black Ale, which is part porter, part stout. Every Saturday at noon, the duo opens their brewery for free tours.
There’s Even a Beer for the Kids to Enjoy (Root Beer, That Is!)
Fizzy Waters capitalizes on Duluth’s bottomless thirst for beer — the non-alcoholic version, anyway. Spouses Steve and Susan Smith are filling shelves with bottled root beer and sodas, a coast-to-coast list that emphasizes Midwestern names: Sprecher, Blumer’s, Dorothy’s Isle of Pines, Point, Fitz’s, Spring Grove. There’s a make-your-own-soda component. Oh, and floats, naturally. At last count, there were 110 root beers, along with several dozen offbeat sodas along the lines of blueberry cream and rhubarb. “And we’re just getting started,” said Steve Smith.
Big-City Feel in the Biggest Little Town
One of the anchors of E. Superior Street’s continuing renaissance is the Zeitgeist complex, which houses a movie theater, art gallery, and, most important, a restaurant and bar, the Zeitgeist Arts Cafe. In a two-level space that wouldn’t look out of place in Minneapolis’ hopping North Loop, chef Taylor Peterson treats his guests to a great-looking smoked salmon salad, delicate herb-scented gnocchi, texture-and flavor-packed rice bowls, a juicy bison burger crowned with a slab of Stillton cheese, a savory duck pot pie and other modern crowd-pleasing ideas. That’s just at dinner. Lunch is also served, along with a creative weekend brunch.
Late Night Options Cruising Near You!
The mobile food scene has a nascent presence in the city by the lake. The big green Rambler is all about creative (and hefty) sandwiches — a kind of sweet-and-sour pulled pork, juicy pot roast with all the right trimmings — while Chow Haul hawks grilled chicken banh mi, peanut butter-jalapeno wontons and other global quick-service fare. Track their whereabouts on Twitter. Better yet, drop by Bent Paddle Brewing Co. on Thursday evenings (through August), when both are parked out front.
Go International Tonight
Twin Citians accustomed to driving to the nearest strip mall for sushi will not fully appreciate the seismic shift in the Duluth dining landscape that Hanabi Japanese Cuisine represents. Sushi, in the Twin Ports! All the standards are present and accounts for: sushi, sashimi and a long list of highly elaborate rolls, plus a smattering of noodle and grilled teriyaki items, all served in pleasant surroundings. The restaurant is just one example of downtown’s encouraging revival. Oh, and happy hour? Some major deals are served daily, from 2:30 – 5:30 pm.
(Content provided by Rick Nelson, “Destination Duluth: Where to eat right now” in the July 12, 2013 issue of the StarTribune)