HOME > Chowhound > Great Lakes >


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, MaƱana, 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?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.)

          2 Replies
          1. re: Ummm

            The Gunflint Tavern has a really nice Bloody Mary and a nice variety of "pub" style food. A bit too wide ranging, but feels like a good local bar in the Metro.

            1. re: Ummm

              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.)

            2. 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.

              1. If you want a quirky, dive-like place, I suggest driving to the Chicago Bay Marketplace Bakery Deli in Hovland (19 miles north on 61). Particularly for breakfast. Breads and pastries are baked on premises. There is table seating.

                1. Thanks everyone for the recommendations! Turns out my mom has made reservations at Chez Jude for dinner one night. Will report back on this as well as the other places we get to!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: turtlebella

                    I loved Chez Jude, FWIW.

                    I thought I read that Judy might be hanging it up. I'm not 100% on that, and couldn't verify it with a Google search. But I do recall reading something like that. Perhaps at the end of this summer?

                    1. re: Brad Ballinger

                      We had lunch at Chez Jude yesterday. Wonderful wood fire pizza, and the best butternut squash ravioli I have had. The ravioli was enhanced by a superb tomato sauce. I also really liked the chocolate stout ice cream (even though wind chills were -35 outside!), which was accompanied by a small Christmas sugar cookie made of dough flaked with bits of rosemary.

                      We also got a blueberry-tart cherry pie from the World's Best Pie place, and it was. The World's Best PIe. Or at least the best pie we ever had. Also the world's most expensive pie, but worth it.

                  2. I was in Grand Marais last weekend, and ate at the Gunflint Tavern and World's Best Donughts.

                    The food a the tavern was really good at the time, but looking back on it now, was mediocre. Everything tastes good when I've been in the backcountry for a week... They had a decent beer selection, including everything currently available from Surly (Furious, Bender, Coffee Bender, Cynic, and Bitter)

                    World's Best Doughnuts are the best donughts I've had in a long time. They were still warm and the frosting tasted very rich and homemade at 2pm in the afternoon. I had a maple bar, and the maple frosting was the best I ever had on a doughnut--clearly made with real maple extract.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: mmm789

                      I love the plain cake donuts at World's best.

                      Angry Trout is definitely worth a visit.

                      Try New Scenic cafe or Nokomis in Two Harbors on the way up.

                      Can't remember the name but there is a dive bar on the outside of Grand Marais that serves a peanut butter hamburger that I think Andrew Zimmern had on his weird foods show. I've been to the bar but never had the hamburger...I plan on trying it next time there.

                      Sven and Ole's is pretty good pizza.

                      Chez Jude is good but as mentioned can be pricey.

                      You have to get some smoked fish at Russ Kendalls on the Knife River also on the way up.

                      1. re: dave43

                        "My Sister's Place" is the name of the restaurant that serves the "goober" burger. http://www.mysistersplacerestaurant.c...


                        1. re: dave43

                          I have to add Northern Smokehaus for smoked fish.

                      2. Report back:

                        We had World's Best Donuts every morning we were there, so yeah, we liked them! :) Our favorite was probably the cinnamon sugar cake donuts (they have both yeast raised and cake donuts as well as what I would call more pastry/cinnamon roll-y-like donuts, for lack of a better term). I am usually a yeast-raised donut kind of girl but while I thought they were fine, the fresh cake donuts were really special. "Tasted just like a donut should taste," according to my husband. We found ourselves lamenting the lack of a good donut place in MSP.

                        Angry Trout for lunch-- great location, right on the water. We very much like their philosophy of sustainability & using local products, including local artisans (from their website: committed to operating in accordance with the concept of sustainability, striving to have a positive effect on our community economically, socially, and environmentally.). I had the fish and chips- fish was whitefish. Perfectly fried fish, batter was not overwhelming or too thick or too thin but provided good mouthfeel, obviously fresh fish. The chips were waffle fries, which I love. Underseasoned for me, but I like really salty fries. My husband had the soup - something Columbian potato but can't quite remember what it was (I was too busy eating my own food to notice much! also some family drama which distracted me) - he liked it but I guess it wasn't THAT memorable! My mom had grilled whitefish (the grilled fish of the day)- which I tasted and my daughter ate - nice and simple and tasty. We took churcka's advice and each of us (my husband and I) got a shot of maple syrup for dessert- very good! Somehow it managed to be not overly sweet but quite maple sugar candy like. My family was kind of horrified at the whole idea, but we made them all have a sip and they seemed converted.

                        We also had lunch at Crooked Spoon. Unfortunately my husband's hamburger tasted fishy- seems that perhaps the grill is the same one used for fish. Since he does not like fish, this was a real problem. (and really, does anyone want their burger tasting like fish?). I had a cup of one of the soups of the day- bacon tomato. YUM! Cream of tomato base with lots of bacon flavor and pieces of crispy bacon floating in it. Very rich and filling. I also had a grilled open-faced goat cheese with tomato sandwich. Tasty, but so rich and after the soup, it was hard to eat much more! My brother and his girlfriend shared the onion soup which came with gorgeous looking pastry on top. I didn't taste any but they enjoyed it. Our server took it away before they were quite done and they were kind of sad.

                        Dinner at Chez Jude was lovely...and since my mom was paying, we didn't have to worry about price. It does indeed seem that Judi is closing up at the end of the season- too bad. We sat upstairs (reservations were a must! when my mom called earlier in the week they were already full for 7pm, we had a reservation for 6pm which was good cos our baby came with) underneath skylights, which still provided a view out to the lake. This turned out to be perfect, since there was no one else in the room with us and we could be as loud as we wished, didn't worry about the baby who got down to play on the floor - along with my mom- in the corner of the room at the end of the evening. I ordered the fish in parchment. I can't remember what the original fish was supposed to be, but turned out they were out of it by the time my order got into the kitchen so it had whitefish instead. This meant I had whitefish twice in one day...but I quite like whitefish so it was okay with me). I really like dishes cooked in parchment! Along with the fish, there was also summer squash, green beans, and very thinly sliced purple potatoes. The potatoes formed the base, just under the fish-- a nice surprise!

                        On our final night we had Sven & Ole's pizza takeout and were underwhelmed. It was fine, not great, but we have high standards-- my husband is a Connecticut native and when Pepe's and/or Sal's are your standard for great pizza, it's pretty hard to live up to that! However, my mom and brother thing Sven & Ole's is great, so, you know, depends on what you wish it to be.

                        Other nights/breakfasts (other than donuts) were consumed at the cottage. But my mom had procured some Lola's carrot cake-- YUM! You can get it at the co-op there (which is very nice- Cook County Whole Foods Co-op, I think it's been around forever too). But presumably also at the bakery itself - Lola's Sweet Life Bakery, which we happened to drive by on our way out of town, in what looks like an old church, we will have to go back there. Lola seems like a much-beloved bakery- they have her (presumably it's named for the baker?) pies at Crooked Spoon but we were too full that day.

                        Looks like my mom is going to buy a place up there for holidays and summer vacations so we will be back to try many of the other places mentioned and recommended by all the great chowhounds! Thanks again, everyone for chiming in.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: turtlebella

                          thanks for the report back! I had the fish in parchment at Chez Jude and according to my notes i had walleye (this is last october). sad to hear they're closing! i adore their setting and food!

                          1. re: Ummm

                            Happy to say Chez Jude is not closing at all. just for the summer fall season on Oct 25, Reopens for winter season December 26th through the end of February. Then reopen again Mothers Day May 2010 for their next summer fall season.
                            Rumors got started because Judi and her husband are cutting back on their time a bit and the excellent Chez Jude staff is taking on a bit more under their direction.

                          2. re: turtlebella

                            My wife was a bit kinder about Sven and Ole's pizza than I would be-- I thought it was pretty bad. And not just compared to mythical East Coast pizza, but compared to, say, Red's Savoy here in St. Paul....

                            1. re: mtullius

                              I gotta agree. We were there last week and grabbed a pizza to bring back to the hotel to watch the game. Bland is the best way to describe it. While the thin crust was not bad, the sauce had no zing to it at all. We both agreed that both Chanticlear and the Pizza Factory had better pies than here. And that's saying something. But it's a captive audience up there so...meh.

                              Sven & Ole's
                              7 W Wisconsin St, Grand Marais, MN 55604

                          3. Just got back from a trip to Grand Marais. I ate lake fish every chance I could. The lake trout at the Angry Trout was the best. I especially loved the salad with grilled fish, as it featured a wonderful variety of vegetables and house made dressing. The herring fish and chips at the Dockside were also delicious. They make Mac's Fish & Chips in St. Paul look terrible.

                            I was also on a pie quest along Hwy 61. So far the best pie was at Sara's Table in Duluth (we only got the pie), followed by Betty's Pies, the Pie Place, and the maple pecan pie at the Angry Trout, which were all about the same quality (very good, worthy examples of pie deliciousness). The pie from Rustic Inn was just okay. I ate at the Lemon Wolf Cafe in Beaver Bay, but skipped the pie. Perhaps that was a mistake? The food was good homemade fare.

                            My cake donut at World's Best was heavy and greasy, but the raised was very good, and probably my favorite donut in MN. I'm afraid Los Angeles has better donuts than MN, however.

                            Betty's Pies
                            1633 Hwy 61, Two Harbors, MN 55616

                            Fish & Chips
                            2418 E Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48912

                            Pie Place
                            2017 W Highway 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604

                            Lemon Wolf Cafe
                            Highway 61, Beaver Bay, MN 55601

                            Angry Trout Cafe
                            408 W Highway 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604

                            1. For pizza now you have a few choices other than Sven & Ole's. :)

                              Sydney's Frozen Custard built a semi-enclosed wood fire-baked pizza oven open this year. All pizzas are about 12" personal size but ample enough to be shared. Here is the Pizza Margherita I ordered.

                              Sven & Ole's
                              7 W Wisconsin St, Grand Marais, MN 55604

                              Frozen Custard
                              6240 Pearl Rd, Cleveland, OH 44130

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Davydd

                                Yes, my bro-in-law had some pizza from Sydney's just after we left this year, and he said it was excellent. For reasons that are hard to fathom, we endured another pizza from Sven and Ole's on our first night in GM. It was truly awful. Just ghastly. Never has an establishment been so good at self-promotion and so bad at food.

                                Angry Trout was marvelous as always (we had 2 meals there in our long weekend trip). We ate at the Gunflint Tavern one night and thought it was just ok. Good beer selection, great view from the deck, rather loud inside, huge menu with all kinds of food.

                                World's Best Donuts are still that. Or at least Minnesota's best. Though the coffee there is simply execrable. Dirty dishwater. Java Moose is close by and acceptable.

                                Java Moose
                                218 W Highway 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604

                                Angry Trout Cafe
                                408 W Highway 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604

                              2. The Pie Place that was located about a mile west of downtown on Highway 61 has closed down and moved into town at the location that was formerly the Wild Onion in the Harbor View Inn. It is now called The Pie Place Cafe with pretty much the same menu. I'll miss the Wild Onion's Venison Scramble but this Pie Place Kayaker's Scramble with the creamy potato side was not bad either.

                                Harbor View Cafe
                                314 1st St, Pepin, WI 54759

                                Wild Onion
                                9069 Helena Rd, Alden, MI 49612

                                Pie Place
                                2017 W Highway 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604