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Jun 26, 2008 06:29 AM

What's new Duluth MN and Superior WI?

It’s getting hot in the Twin Cities, again, which means it’s ready for me to plan my annual escape to the cool beauty of Duluth and Superior. We’ll still have our bikes along and will again be staying in that Park Point/Canal Park area.

• Anything new and exciting developments in the chow-scene in the last year or so?
• Any uphill or downhill alerts?
• Hell’s Kitchen was new last time I was there—has anyone tried the dinner there yet?
• That cute little family-owned market on Park Point, Bayside Market, where they make their own sausages etc.-- is it still open?
• The funny cheese shop/souvenir shop on Barker's Island next to the Boathouse Restaurant, is it any good?
• I keep hearing good things (here on chowhound) about Russ Kendall's Smokehouse--is that in/near/en route to Duluth?

As I (perhaps over) documented in this thread from last year, our stops included

• Hell's Kitchen (Canal Park, Duluth MN)—loved it, of course
• Boathouse Restaurant (Barker’s Island, Superior WI)—enjoyed this very much
• Fitgers Brewhouse (Duluth, MN)—not bad, and easily accessible by bike
• Grandma's Saloon and Grill (Canal Park, Duluth MN)—mostly not great, I do like some of their wild rice dishes and it is a Duluth institution
• Amazing Grace Bakery and Cafe (Canal Park, Duluth MN)—didn’t love it as much as I wanted to, but will still probably stop again
• Bellisio's (Canal Park, Duluth, MN)—not great, but not bad and I’m a sucker for a nice patio
• Sir Benedict's Tavern (Duluth, MN)—fun stop with our bikes

Places that we wanted to try but get a chance to:New Scenic Café, Nokomis, Portland Malt Shoppe, Chester Creek Café, Starvin' Marvin's, Mexico Lindo in downtown Cloquet, Positively Third Street. Are these all still worth exploring?

And, I got some great tips for the route from debbie421’s excellent “en route to Duluth from the Twin Cities” post, but any additional suggestions for the route to and fro would most certainly be welcome! (Congrats to diesel, by the way, for the addition of a new chowpuppy to her household).

As always, thank you for sharing your thoughts!


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  1. Not new, but definitely worth a stop - Northern Waters Smokehaus. It's in the same building as Amazing Grace, but on the other side.

    They have fabulous buffalo pastrami (at least, they did last year) and smoked salmon (I like the cajun version). They also have imported cheeses and fancy soda pop. You can buy meat and cheese by the pound, or buy made-to-order sandwiches for a picnic.

    Me, I would get soup from Amazing Grace (LOVE the tomato basil) and a sandwich from Northern Waters - add some fudge from across the street, and wow would that be a picnic!


    Amazing Grace Bakery & Cafe
    394 S Lake Ave Ste 106, Duluth, MN 55802

    Northern Waters Smokehaus
    394 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802

    3 Replies
    1. re: AnneInMpls

      Also fun at the smokehouse is a smoked salmon cream cheese spread. I've been trying to replicate it back home. We had a delightful dinner at the Scenic, just 10 minutes north of Duluth, a very creative menu.

      1. re: stymie

        stymie, I don't know if it's the same dish you're referring to, but a recipe for New Scenic Cafe's "Northern Waters Smoked Salmon Appetizer" (it calls for Boursin Cheese!) is included in the recently published "Minnesota Home Grown Cookbook." Several of their recipes are, actually. Here's a link to a thread where I talk about a recipe I cooked from the book (a recipe from Alma, actually, that I completely flubbed due to my own stupidity, not in any way Alex Roberts' fault) with a photo of the book. For a mere $30, you could have this book and, perhaps, the smoked salmon spread recipe you seek to duplicate!

        Just look at the first photo and ignore the rest


      2. re: AnneInMpls

        Ah, I love Northern Waters Smokehaus (how could I have left it off my list?!), but I've only had their fish before. Last time I was in Duluth I was so "fished" out that I just didn't feel like I could stop in at Northern Waters. But, this time, I'm going to try to stop in EARLY in my trip so that doesn't happen. And I didn't know about the buffalo pastrami. That sounds fantastic, thank you!


      3. I usually make it to Duluth once a month or so. Here are a few my thoughts/suggestions.

        I haven't been to HC for dinner, but the whole operation is markedly better than a year ago.

        Restaurant 301 (in the new downtown Sheraton) looks like the closest thing to fine dining in the downtown area.

        Epicurious had a list of top 10 Farm-to-Table Restaurants in the country, and Chester Creek Cafe was on it. It's funny because I lived within a mile of the place for years while I was in college, and I've probably driven past it 100 times, but I've never stopped. I will definitely make it there when I go back up in the next few weeks. Note: The address in the place link is right, but the spot on the map appears to be off.

        Of course, the Anchor in Superior is always a stop for me.

        If you find anything new, let me know.

        Restaurant 301
        301 East Superior Street, Duluth, MN 55803

        3 Replies
        1. re: BigE

          BigE--I haven't heard much about Anchor--can you tell me a bit more about that?

          And is there anything at Restaurant 301 that you particularly recommend?


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            I haven't been to 301 yet, unfortunately. It only opened about a year ago, and when I go up there (to visit old college friends), none of them are interested in a fine dining dinner.

            In terms of the Anchor, it is...well, it's an experience. It is a dark little dive with all kinds of ambiance. Burgers are their specialty (I recommend the Cashew burger), as are the fries. They cut whole potatoes all day and fry them up. Greasy as can be, but really cheap, and worth the stop. It consistently wins the local 'Best Cheap Eats' awards.

            Don't mind the surly wait staff either.

            1. re: BigE

              The Anchor sounds like it has both good chow and character--my kind of place. Thanks for the tip!


        2. Was back again last month. Ample, tasty lunch at CCC as usual - even bought some used books. Really reasonable lunch on the patio at Bellisio w/generous portions & wonderful waitperson. Dinner at Valentini's Vicino Lago will not be repeated. May as well have been at a bland Italian chain. Waitperson acted as if auditioning for a show. The best we could say - great lake view. Ledge Rock in Two Harbors trip before was meh standard fare. By far best experience in last year has been Nokomis, which we'll definitely hit again in August.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Taralli

            Seems like we'd better move CCC a bit higher on our list! Just curious, is it a place you might make a bicycling destination from Park Point/Canal Park?


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              A 10 block pedal straight up the hill might be challenging, but the #11 bus from the Transit station on Superior St. will drop you right out front. I also meant to mention Va Bene - a cheerful, bright little Italian place on Superior St. w/open kitchen and great deck over the lake. Generous salads, pastas, panini & desserts w/b&w license.

              1. re: Taralli

                Yikes! Well, we'd better plan to drive to CCC if we can fit it in...


          2. Russ Kendall's is a few miles north of Duluth, partway to Two Harbors.

            The best direction is to head north on Highway 61 until the road curves under an overpass. There's a sign to slow for the turn -- do that because Russ Kendall's is just beyond the curve, on the left-hand side.

            1 Reply
            1. There is a new place run by the same people as Fitger's; it's called Burrito Union. The burritos are totally non-authentic but good in their own way. Just a warning-- the guac is not really up to par. Some decent salsas, though. They have breakfast burritos which I have not tried, but look promising. Plus a nice selection of Fitger's beer on tap.

              I second (or third or fourth) the rave for Northern Waters Smokehaus- I got a great sandwich to go involving salmon, pickled ginger, wasabi mayo, and sundry veggies, kind of a sushi-themed banh mi. Delish!

              Burito Union
              1332 E 4th St, Duluth, MN 55805

              3 Replies
              1. re: KristinT013

                That's okay, burritos aren't really authentically Mexican anyway, unless you mean an authentically San Francisco Mission burrito, and frankly, I would kill for a good San Francisco Mission-style burrito.

                At Burrito Union, do they make the burrito to order in front of you by first blast-steaming a flour tortilla in front of you, then layering rice, beans (your choice black or refried or pinto), then your choice of meat (or veggies), then the cheese and then the salsa+hot sauce, and, optionally guac and sour cream?

                EDIT: Okay, I've just looked at their website, and I completely understand what you mean by non-authentic--with the seasoned sour cream and rice pilaf, etc. Still, it sounds like it could be fun and delicious, even if not "authentic." Do you know if they make their beans and salsas etc. in house?

                On wow! That sandwich at Northern Waters sounds fantastic! Is the bread on their sandwiches pretty good or am I better off assembling my own with bread I pick up from Amazing Grace and meats/fish from Northern Waters?


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  I've only ever done table service at burrito union, so I'm not sure of the assembly line process (it is more assembly-line-esque if you get takeout). They have four set burrito types (veg, chicken, pork, and beef-- but with funny names!) each with a specific flavor profile-- I have tried all the non-veg ones and loved the chicken and pork, but found the adobo sauce on the beef too sweet. You can also build your own with the available toppings.

                  The sandwich I had from Northern Waters was on a perfectly respectable baguette-- not quite Rustica level but as good as you get at any other decent bakery around the TC.

                  1. re: KristinT013

                    Sounds like Burrito Union is not SF Mission style, but it still sounds interesting nevertheless. Thanks again!

                    Northern Waters might have to be our go-to spot for sandwiches to take on a picnic...though, last time we were pretty happy with getting bread from Amazing Grace and housemade peanut butter from Hell's Kitchen to take along...