Has anyone heard of Duluth MN?
I lived there for six years but moved away three years ago. Any list must include neighboring Superior, Wisconsin, too.
WARNING: This list is not geared toward tourists! But it runs the gamut from a smoky diner to a beer-and-burgers bar to a restaurant where you easily can drop $100 for a dinner for two.
As of summer 1998, my favorites are ...
1. Bennett's. A touch of Palm Springs panache on the North Shore. Innovative food, good wine list, best all-around grub in town with $$$ menu prices to match. Worth every penny, though. (My groom's dinner was there.)
2. Lake Avenue Cafe. Best lunch spot in town. Good food, and excellent setting. Nice, bright environment near Tourist Central in Canal Park.
3. The Anchor Bar (Superior's North End). This favorite watering hole is in a horrible part of town. The locals (most of them from Duluth) love it, though, because the burgers are fabulous, the beer is unbelievably cheap, and the fries are as fresh as the bartenders. You've got to see this place to believe it: There's even a table of barber chairs for patrons to enjoy. Very weird.
4. Buena Vista. You won't find this restaurant on the tourism list, and that's why I like it. Food is average to good, but the view is extraordinary. The tourists go to the Top of the Harbor for breakfast (the revolving restaurant in the Radisson), but the locals go to the Buena Vista.
5. Pickwick. Typical all-American fare. The iceberg lettuce salad and accompanying four-choice salad-dressing boat is embarrassing, but the rest of the meal is good, the union waitresses are surly, and the setting is a throwback. Good beer on tap. Consider having a pepper-cheese burger in the lounge, and be sure to scan the walls for the historic picture of the guys in great hats all lined up for the stroke of midnight on the eve that Prohibition went bye-bye. (Closed Sundays; hey, it's a union shop.)
6. Shamrock Pizza (in Superior's South End). It's on the side of Superior farthest from Duluth, but it's worth the drive. Delicious, delicious pizza. Typical bar setting; not really a place for kids.
7. Sammy's Pizza. It's the locals' joint. Salty, fattening, and thin crust. YUM. Several locations. Not as good as Shamrock, but it's good for kids.
8. Louis Cafe. (Locations in Duluth and Superior, but food in the original Superior location seems better). A classic Greek restaurant -- classic in the sense that the food and service are excellent. There's a huge menu of offerings Greek and otherwise, and I've never been disappointed. My favorite: Louis' Classic Omelette, which has gyros meat and feta cheese. Comes with pancakes and fried potatoes. Yum, yum! Good place for big grop
8. Little Angie's. OK, finally I list a touristy spot. Best Mexican-type food in town, even though it's run by the Grandma's people who own and control most of Canal Park. (Word to the wise: Avoid the Hacienda del Sol restaurant, unless you like lots of cheese and lots of stomach pains.)
9. Blackwoods. Good all-around restaurant for steaks, seafood, etc. Several locations, but locally owned. Check out the men's restroom: Thanks to one-way mirrors, you get to peer at diners while, um, standing to do your business.
10. 21st Delight. OK, you won't find this on any tourist's list, and every city has a place like it. You know the type: blue-plate specials, piping-hot coffee, a revolving dessert case, Formica all around, no-smoking areas that have little effect in quarantining the smoke. This is one of the best diners I've experienced, though. The fried chicken, for instance, is surprisingly yummy, particularly for this far north! The 21st Delight is in Duluth's West End, way far away from tourist spots. People who live in central and east Duluth won't know where it's at.
1. Bellisio's (also run by the Grandma's people) is great, my wife reports. Best wine list in northern Minnesota, I guess. I haven't been there, but I've heard nothing but good things about it.
2. Grandma's isn't on my list. I hate it, unless I'm there to enjoy a beverage on the deck while sitting outside to watch the boats go through the canal. The food is highly unremarkable, I think.
3. The best Lake Superior view close to the water is, unfortunately, at Chi-Chi's. Best plan is to grab a margarita, some free chips and a chair outside to watch the splendor. Then go somewhere else for dinner. (Best view away from the lake is the aforementioned Buena Vista.)
Steve, YOWWZA! Thanks a lot for the recommendations! By the way, I'm not fond of Grandma's either, lots of pasta dishes overloaded with cream sauce. Just a place to get filled up as far as I'm concerned. Once I went to my local Grandma's, asked for a beer list, and the bartender asked me what I usually drank. I replied something like "well, I've had about 200 different beers in my life, there's nothing I usually drink." That number might have correct then, I don't know. Anyway, from that time on I've kept a beer list, with ratings for each beer I've tried, and the numbers listed is now safely over 200. So I should at least thank Grandma's for inspiring my beer list.
I'll be up in Duluth/Superior shortly and I'll give you some feedback. Thanks again! Michael