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An aeriel view of the city of Duluth in evening sun with Lake Superior in the background.
Next stop: Duluth.
Jacob Boomsma via Shutterstock

Where to Eat and Drink in Duluth, Minnesota

Scandinavian dining, cozy cafes, breweries with a view, and other destinations for a road trip north

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Next stop: Duluth.
| Jacob Boomsma via Shutterstock

Planning a weekend getaway to catch the changing fall colors of Minnesota’s forests? Duluth, a bustling port city and the gateway to majestic Lake Superior, is a compelling place to start. The refreshing breeze off the lake and access to hikes and other adventures make Duluth a prime road trip destination — but don’t forget to stop along the way for a great meal. Here are 15 great places to grab food and drink around Duluth.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Duluth Grill

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This newly renovated grill has become a popular destination for Midwestern road-trippers thanks in part to a feature on Guy Fieri’s Food Network. At the Duluth Grill, dishes from chilaquiles to Mediterranean omelets are served in a classic woodsy interior. Fans have been known to plan an entire road trip just to get an order of the Korean Brussels sprouts.

OMC Smokehouse

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In a town with nine breweries, it only seems right to have a local barbecue spot too. The beef fat fries, pulled pork sandwiches, and St. Louis-style ribs are just a few of the satisfying favorites at OMC Smokehouse. For all things meat, it’s a Lincoln Park District staple — pair your meal with a couple local IPAs.

Vikre Distillery

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This family-owned distillery uses hyper-local botanicals and grains to craft spirits, from boreal gin to aged Aquavit. (They also use ice-cold water from Lake Superior in the distilling process.) The cocktail room, located at the foot of Duluth’s iconic lift bridge, serves snacks from Northern Waters Smokehaus alongside classic, seasonal, zero-proof, and even canned cocktails.

Amazing Grace Cafe + Grocery

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This cafe offers simple, light fare: Think scratch-made soups, sandwiches, and salads. (It also serves some of the best gluten-free cookies in town.) The tiny grocery store inside the cafe curates a collection of locally-made items like honey, baked goods, and snacks. Grab a house-made muffin and a mocha and enjoy some local music on a cozy Saturday afternoon.

Lake Avenue

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Lake Avenue serves an elegant menu in a sun-drenched room. The classic entrees have a twist, like the brick chicken chimichurri or bulgogi Wagyu steak. It’s also an ideal stop for a romantic night near the lake, and the wine list is unparalleled.

Scallops in a pink sauce garnished with bean sprouts in a white dish.
A scallop dish from Lake Avenue.
Lake Avenue Restaurant

Northern Waters Smokehaus

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Steps away from Lake Superior is Northern Waters Smokehaus, a specialty sandwich shop nestled in the DeWitt-Sietz Building. Unique combinations of seafood, meat, or vegetarian sandwiches are available alongside butcher cuts, from smoked fish to jerky. Pick up a sandwich, olives, and a variety of cheeses and savor on a picnic on the shore. Pro-tip: Call ahead for speedy service. The line gets long.

Canal Park Brewing Company

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It doesn’t get more “Up North” than a craft beer with a view. But if that’s not your jam, Canal Park also has a cocktail menu and a full kitchen serving everything from cheese curds and beer soup to the cleverly named Root Canal, an ice cream float made with Canal Park Brewing root beer.

Hanabi Japanese Cuisine

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The freshwater surroundings may eventually prompt a sushi craving. If you’re on the hunt for a dynamite specialty roll or expertly prepared nigiri, Hanabi is the place to go. Pack up a few rolls to go for a picnic up at Enger Tower, or tuck into a steaming bowl of udon, an ideal meal when the wind shifts and cold breezes blow in off the lake.

Duluth Coffee Company

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Chilly hands demand a piping-hot cup of coffee. Eric Faust’s downtown Duluth Coffee Company serves sustainably sourced, rotating brews from featured farmers. The baked goods are from area bakeries Duluth’s Best Bread, Wild Flour, and A Dozen Excuses. Grab a maple latte or a straight black espresso.

The Rathskeller

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The building that houses The Rathskeller is over 125 years old — its underground setting is reminiscent of a European drinking hole. The brick arches, chandeliers, and bare stone walls lend a mysterious speakeasy vibe (as does the live jazz on Thursday nights). Sip a seasonal cocktail like a Red Velvet martini, or stick to the classics, like a Boulevardier.

The Pharm Juice Bar + Kitchen

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Some days call for fancy juice. When that day comes, The Pharm has you covered. A variety of cold-pressed juices, smoothies, bowls, and vegan dishes — like BLT Caesar bowls made with vegetarian tempeh bacon — will fuel your walk to the Great Lakes Aquarium, which is only a 15-minute walk away.

Fitger's Brewhouse Brewery and Grille

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This is pub food at its best. Tucked in the lower level of the historic Fitger’s Brewing Complex (which also includes a lovely inn), the brewhouse serves top-notch burgers, including three variations of its legendary wild rice burger. Salads, soups, and entrees are also available — but seriously, go for the Gale Force wild rice burger.

Va Bene

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Va Bene’s enclosed solarium, open-air deck, and outdoor grotto all offer panoramic views of Lake Superior. When the night calls for an old-school Italian dinner, this restaurant’s carbonara, bolognese, and pappardelle e funghi all hit the spot. Pair them all with a generous pour of red wine.

A restaurant with small black tables overlooking Lake Superior.
A view of the water at Va Bene.
Va Bene

At Sara's Table Chester Creek Cafe

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A Chester Park neighborhood staple since 2002, At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe is a charming cafe with a mouthful of a moniker. The menu features breakfast classics, sandwiches, and entrees from spaghetti and meatballs to vegan bibimbop. It’s like having a lazy Sunday lunch at Grandma’s house, if Grandma made a killer mocktail (try the lavender-lemon and soda).

A cosy cafe space with chairs, art on the walls, and a food counter.
The cozy space at Sara’s.
At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe

New Scenic Café

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Just North of Duluth sits New Scenic Café, with stellar views of Lake Superior and a nod to Nordic traditions in both menu and decor. Gorgeous, sharable dishes like the game platter or the smörgåsbord (a true smorgasbord of pickled herring, smoked salmon, deviled eggs, cheese, fruit, and olives) are a must.

Duluth Grill

This newly renovated grill has become a popular destination for Midwestern road-trippers thanks in part to a feature on Guy Fieri’s Food Network. At the Duluth Grill, dishes from chilaquiles to Mediterranean omelets are served in a classic woodsy interior. Fans have been known to plan an entire road trip just to get an order of the Korean Brussels sprouts.

OMC Smokehouse

In a town with nine breweries, it only seems right to have a local barbecue spot too. The beef fat fries, pulled pork sandwiches, and St. Louis-style ribs are just a few of the satisfying favorites at OMC Smokehouse. For all things meat, it’s a Lincoln Park District staple — pair your meal with a couple local IPAs.

Vikre Distillery

This family-owned distillery uses hyper-local botanicals and grains to craft spirits, from boreal gin to aged Aquavit. (They also use ice-cold water from Lake Superior in the distilling process.) The cocktail room, located at the foot of Duluth’s iconic lift bridge, serves snacks from Northern Waters Smokehaus alongside classic, seasonal, zero-proof, and even canned cocktails.

Amazing Grace Cafe + Grocery

This cafe offers simple, light fare: Think scratch-made soups, sandwiches, and salads. (It also serves some of the best gluten-free cookies in town.) The tiny grocery store inside the cafe curates a collection of locally-made items like honey, baked goods, and snacks. Grab a house-made muffin and a mocha and enjoy some local music on a cozy Saturday afternoon.

Lake Avenue

Scallops in a pink sauce garnished with bean sprouts in a white dish.
A scallop dish from Lake Avenue.
Lake Avenue Restaurant

Lake Avenue serves an elegant menu in a sun-drenched room. The classic entrees have a twist, like the brick chicken chimichurri or bulgogi Wagyu steak. It’s also an ideal stop for a romantic night near the lake, and the wine list is unparalleled.

Scallops in a pink sauce garnished with bean sprouts in a white dish.
A scallop dish from Lake Avenue.
Lake Avenue Restaurant

Northern Waters Smokehaus

Steps away from Lake Superior is Northern Waters Smokehaus, a specialty sandwich shop nestled in the DeWitt-Sietz Building. Unique combinations of seafood, meat, or vegetarian sandwiches are available alongside butcher cuts, from smoked fish to jerky. Pick up a sandwich, olives, and a variety of cheeses and savor on a picnic on the shore. Pro-tip: Call ahead for speedy service. The line gets long.

Canal Park Brewing Company

It doesn’t get more “Up North” than a craft beer with a view. But if that’s not your jam, Canal Park also has a cocktail menu and a full kitchen serving everything from cheese curds and beer soup to the cleverly named Root Canal, an ice cream float made with Canal Park Brewing root beer.

Hanabi Japanese Cuisine

The freshwater surroundings may eventually prompt a sushi craving. If you’re on the hunt for a dynamite specialty roll or expertly prepared nigiri, Hanabi is the place to go. Pack up a few rolls to go for a picnic up at Enger Tower, or tuck into a steaming bowl of udon, an ideal meal when the wind shifts and cold breezes blow in off the lake.

Duluth Coffee Company

Chilly hands demand a piping-hot cup of coffee. Eric Faust’s downtown Duluth Coffee Company serves sustainably sourced, rotating brews from featured farmers. The baked goods are from area bakeries Duluth’s Best Bread, Wild Flour, and A Dozen Excuses. Grab a maple latte or a straight black espresso.

The Rathskeller

The building that houses The Rathskeller is over 125 years old — its underground setting is reminiscent of a European drinking hole. The brick arches, chandeliers, and bare stone walls lend a mysterious speakeasy vibe (as does the live jazz on Thursday nights). Sip a seasonal cocktail like a Red Velvet martini, or stick to the classics, like a Boulevardier.

The Pharm Juice Bar + Kitchen

Some days call for fancy juice. When that day comes, The Pharm has you covered. A variety of cold-pressed juices, smoothies, bowls, and vegan dishes — like BLT Caesar bowls made with vegetarian tempeh bacon — will fuel your walk to the Great Lakes Aquarium, which is only a 15-minute walk away.

Fitger's Brewhouse Brewery and Grille

This is pub food at its best. Tucked in the lower level of the historic Fitger’s Brewing Complex (which also includes a lovely inn), the brewhouse serves top-notch burgers, including three variations of its legendary wild rice burger. Salads, soups, and entrees are also available — but seriously, go for the Gale Force wild rice burger.

Va Bene

A restaurant with small black tables overlooking Lake Superior.
A view of the water at Va Bene.
Va Bene

Va Bene’s enclosed solarium, open-air deck, and outdoor grotto all offer panoramic views of Lake Superior. When the night calls for an old-school Italian dinner, this restaurant’s carbonara, bolognese, and pappardelle e funghi all hit the spot. Pair them all with a generous pour of red wine.

A restaurant with small black tables overlooking Lake Superior.
A view of the water at Va Bene.
Va Bene

At Sara's Table Chester Creek Cafe

A cosy cafe space with chairs, art on the walls, and a food counter.
The cozy space at Sara’s.
At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe

A Chester Park neighborhood staple since 2002, At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe is a charming cafe with a mouthful of a moniker. The menu features breakfast classics, sandwiches, and entrees from spaghetti and meatballs to vegan bibimbop. It’s like having a lazy Sunday lunch at Grandma’s house, if Grandma made a killer mocktail (try the lavender-lemon and soda).

A cosy cafe space with chairs, art on the walls, and a food counter.
The cozy space at Sara’s.
At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe

New Scenic Café

Just North of Duluth sits New Scenic Café, with stellar views of Lake Superior and a nod to Nordic traditions in both menu and decor. Gorgeous, sharable dishes like the game platter or the smörgåsbord (a true smorgasbord of pickled herring, smoked salmon, deviled eggs, cheese, fruit, and olives) are a must.

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