road trip: Minneapolis to Duluth
Three adult women going to cheer on our friends at Grandma's this weekend. We're leaving St. Paul at 7:00pm Friday night. Where can we stop on the way up for a bite to eat? I did read this thread http://www.chowhound.com/topics/429382 but not a lot about the trip.
If you are leaving at 7:00 p.m. from St. Paul, you may be limited on where you can stop on your way to Duluth. By the time you reach Hinckley (home of Tobie's -- and the cinnamon rolls will be old from the morning, Cassidy's -- so so, and a bunch of franchise fast food joints), you may be stuck with fast food -- especially if you want to get to Duluth by 10:00. I guess I'd pack good stuff to eat and just get to Duluth.
So let's focus on the return trip... I've made this trip countless times. Nothing extremely remarkable in the way of places to stip, but the place I prefer over others is Blue Bear Cafe in Moose Lake. You have to travel about a couple miles off I-35 into the town, but it beats anyplace immediately adjacent to any exits along your route.
re: Brad Ballinger
I grew up in Moose Lake and I'm actually going up there this weekend! They'll be delighted about a mention "on the internets". Some of it is the typical Sysco fare like mozz sticks and chicken strips. I love the chicken salad sandwich at the Blue Bear, especially if they still have croissants left. Also, the pie is homemade. My fave is strawberry-rhubarb. Also in Moose Lake, almost right next to the Blue Bear is Art's Cafe. A typical small-town diner if there ever was one. You'll see the same group of old-timers in there at the same time every day. Authentic diner food like hot roast beef sandwiches and homemade pies.
The Blue Bear also has another location 5 miles up the freeway in Barnum. That location is right off the exit and has a nice view of the lake, where the Moose Lake location is further in town. Same menu.
re: Brad Ballinger
A couple suggestions for Cloquet, which is actually almost to Duluth, is Gordy's Hi-Hat. There was just an article in Minnesota Monthly where Dara recommended the best burgers in the state. Gordy's was on the list. I can't vouch for the burgers, but the malts are awesome. Also in Cloquet, there's a Mexican restaurant--can't remember the name--that has great food. The seafood fajitas were fresh and delicious.
Gordy's Hi Hat Drive-Inn
411 Sunnyside Dr, Cloquet, MN
I make that trip regularly, and would agree that if you're leaving at 7 pm, your options on the way up are quite limited. You might just want to stop in the outer suburbs on your way out of MSP, or hold out for Pizza Luce or another late night option in Duluth.
If you're interested in options for the way back, I have had great luck with the homemade soup at Cedarwood Cafe on Main St. in Onamia. Cut and pasted from my post on a previous thread: It's just one of your regular small-town cafes, but I had the best ever bowl of chicken dumpling soup there last fall. Supremely homemade. Nothing fancy, but really flavorful (really "chickeny") and the textures of the chicken, the dumplings, the veggies, were perfect. I'm not sure whether it's on the menu every day, but I figure their other soups would be worth a try. When I was there, I ordered the pizza burger too (this was around the time someone had a post looking for a good one) - that was pretty Sysco-esque. So if you stop I'd recommend you stick with the homemade stuff.
OK so after I posted this yesterday I realized that Onamia's not on the way to Duluth from MSP - it's on the way to the Mille Lacs area (which is also a trip I take frequently).
So ignore my post above. I blame it on the sleep deprivation I'm experiencing as mom to a 2-week-old!