Grand Marais, MN
My husband (posts as mtullius here) my 10-month old, and I are heading up to Grand Marais for a long weekend. We'll be staying at a house that my mother has rented in town and so will likely eat several of our meals there. But I'd like to know some good places to go- preferably for lunch and breakfast. They'd need to be welcoming of a 10-month old (we take her most places we go in the Twin Cities...I mean, I wouldn't take her to La Belle Vie but it's not like we eat there with any frequency anyway).
We tend to like places that use seasonal, locally-sourced produce & meats but we also dig dive-y diners and great Indian or Vietnamese or Thai, etc (among our favorite restaurants in the Twin Cities are Brasa, The Strip Club, Al's Breakfast, Bangkok Thai Deli, Mañana, Ngon Bistro, Saigon). A good beer list is a definite plus (for frame of reference, Ngon's beer list is *outstanding* not just good!). I don't know that Grand Marais is big enough for various "ethnic" places but please let me know if I'm wrong! We will be with my mother though, so probably nothing too adventurous.
I've heard good things about the Angry Trout (is that the right name)...warranted?
Does the World's Best Doughnuts actually have really good doughnuts?
Angry Trout Cafe is very good. It is a cafe, so kids would be very welcome. Get a shot of maple syrup for dessert, it is very good.
I spent four days in Grand Marais last May taking an ovencrafting course at the North House Folk School and had ample opportunity to sample the many restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and write up a lengthy report with 90 photos (including building a brick bread oven) that I posted here.
Angry Trout is warranted as is Chez Jude and The Crooked Spoon for lunch or dinner. Donuts at World's Best Donuts are indeed good. Breakfast at the Wild Onion or The Pie Place would be my recommendation. For a town of only about 1,300 people you will find more food of good quality than you can ever imagine. Except for a Subway and a Dairy Queen they have not been tainted by national chains.
Angry Trout is the best. Everything they do is local, sustainable, etc., and the food is delicious. If it's nice you can sit outside and if your daughter gets squiry you can just walk her over to the water, or look at the boats. The maple vinaigrette on the salad is amazing, and whatever fresh grilled fish they've got for the day will be delicious. There are non-fish options, too. I've heard other places are good in Grand Marais but that's where we always eat.
i liked Chez Jude but it's a bit on the pricey side. we got there late but they still gave us a table. i like their sage ice cream - small severing but unusual and i like the favor (biscotti with it was great too!)
we tried angry trout too but it was just okay for me - probably because i ordered the wrong dish. i ordered the smoke fish plate, and had no idea how big the plate is and it's just too hard to eat a whole plate of smoke fish (quite salty) as an entree. fun to try their homemade pop. husband had fish and chips and he liked it.
We had sunday brunch at Naniboujou Historic Lodge (buffet) which was fun to see the architecture, and food wasn't bad.
we only got to have one doughnut from the world's best doughtnut and it wasn't bad (though doesn't make me go wow!) - but that could be because they were just past closing time when we walked past, so they were selling the left overs so it may not be as fresh as it could've been.
we also went to the pie place. husband loves fruit pies (i only like cream pies) and so far this is his favorite pie place he's been to, he said it's like his grandma's (which is a compliment). we went to betty's pies too but didn't like it as much (granted, he had different types of pies so not a straight comparison.)
heard good things about the crooked spoon, but couldn't fit it into our trip as we got there late on the first day, and we only stayed one night (hotels all booked up for the previous night.)
after reading Davydd's report (great report btw!) now i remember why the donut was just okay - we were still pretty full from the Naniboujou brunch (i liked the blueberry wild rice sausage!), and they only had 2 types for us to choose from. We had the cinnamon which is not usually my choice (forgot what the other one was... prob with some icing but since we were full, couldn't really have something too sweet). it's a cake-donut, and i prefer bread-donut, so that's probably why i didn't think it was as good as i thought it'd be.
And if you see Davydd's picture of the smoked herring from the Dockside? yep that was pretty much my dinner (the whole thing!), along with some smoked trout, crackers, cheese etc. at the angry trout. my husband didn't like them, so i was stuck with the whole plate. so that's why it wasn't a very good meal for me. it'd be a good, shared appetizer with a bigger group, but not as your whole dinner... (see picture.)
Trail Center, up the Gunflint (as far up as Hungry Jack), is worth the drive. There's a reason the parking lot if full most of tthe time. They make a "forest berry" or something like that pie that is delicious. They also have a completely professional service concept (crowd control on the dining room), and serve beer in frosted mason jars.
I found Angry Trout to be over hyped on the first visit, but I'd try them again.
Gunflint Lodge has a "hotel food" feel, good quality none the less.