For a small town, Duluth is sure full of a lot of flavor. Yep, Duluth is most definitely in the running for an up-and-coming foodie destination, while still remaining true to its humble, blue-collar roots.
Most people underestimate the cuisine and culture in Duluth because the vibe is overwhelming casual and unpretentious. It’s not about the décor and how you’re dressed around town. It’s about quality food and company, plain and simple.
The Best Restaurants in Duluth, MN
- Brunch and Breakfast in Duluth, MN
- The Duluth Grill
- Sarah’s Table
- Amazing Grace Café and Bakery
- Lunch places in Duluth, MN
- Northern Waters
- Pizza Luce
- Canal Park Brewing
- Burrito Union
- New Scenic Café
- Dinner places in Duluth, MN
- Lake Avenue Café
- Va Bene
- The Boat House
- Hanabi sushi
- JJ Astor
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Brunch and Breakfast in Duluth, MN
The Duluth Grill
Eating at the Duluth Grill is kind of like a right of passage for tourists in Duluth. Did you REALLY visit Duluth if you didn’t even eat at the Grill? A diner located right off of the highway and next to a gas station, you wouldn’t expect this place to be farm to table. The Duluth Grill is literally like a lotus flower, growing fresh produce in the parking-lot garden.
It’s no wonder this place was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. They serve breakfast all day long, and also feature a whole host of gluten free and vegan options. I recommend trying the congee bowl or huevos rancheros skillet. Also, if you’re closer to brunch I recommend trying the zucchini noodles. Check out the full menu here.
Zeitgeist happens to be one of the most unique restaurants in Duluth, MN, because you can make an entire day out of it. As one of the only upscale brunch options in Duluth, Zeitgeist defines itself as “comfort food with a contemporary twist.” The brunch menu offers a variety of savory and sweet dishes using many local ingredients. I recommend trying the Salmon Benedict, the vegan tostadas, or the vegetarian Benedict. End the day and see a movie at the “zinema” after. Check out the full menu here.
Sarah’s table is one of the best Duluth restaurants to give you a taste of the North Shore’s farm-to-table movement. The menu offers a variety of organic, locally and sustainably sourced menu items. This casual eatery brings in a lot of health-conscious foodies, and a few (a lot) of Duluth’s Nordic hipsters too. My favorite items are the pumpkin pancakes and the hippie farm breakfast. See the full menu here.
Amazing Grace Café and Bakery
Amazing Grace is the hidden gem of Canal Park. Located in the basement of the Dewitt Seitz building, this hole-in-the-wall is known for its live music as well as its food. Not only do they make a variety of coffee, teas, and pastries in house, they also are quite popular for breakfast, served everyday until noon. I recommend trying the Grace Hash or the Polenta con Pico. You can check out the menu and live music schedule here.
Lunch places in Duluth, MN
There’s a reason why the line for Northern Waters goes out the door almost everyday at about noon. It’s not because the deli is anything fancy or spacious. It’s because people are willing to wait for that mouth-watering smoked salmon, juicy pastrami, and locally-sourced turkey breast is considered “cult-worthy”. Get a sandwich to go and have a picnic in Canal Park. I recommend trying anything with pastrami or smoked salmon, especially the NWS salad! Click here to see the full menu.
If you’re a Minnesota Native, Pizza Luce is nothing new. However, it’s one of those places to eat in Duluth you can’t go wrong. They hit it out of the park with pizza, sandwiches, and appetizers, even for vegans and gluten free eaters. You’ll often find live music or other community events going on here that give you a true taste of Duluth. You can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas, but my favorite is pizza Athena. You can click here to see the menu.
Canal Park Brewing
Judging by the name, you may not expect this place to even have food. Believe me when I say the eats are just as good as the Ales and IPAs. Canal Park Brewing is a great place to grab a drink and food in Duluth while overlooking the water in Canal Park. The menu sources many of the items locally, and yes obviously the beer. I recommend trying the smoked salmon sandwich or the Sriracha honey wings. Oh, and don’t forget to try the sweet potato fries! You can view the full menu here.
Back in my day when I dated a guy that went to UMD, this spot was the cure to any hangover. It also happens to be really the only Mexican restaurant that I’ve come across in Duluth that I can recommend. They are known for their 1 or 2 fist-size burritos, but the tacos and wings are just as good. I recommend going for a hike around the popular Chester Creek and rewarding yourself with some carnitas tacos or burrito to finish. You can view the full menu here.
New Scenic Café
What’s a scenic drive up the North Shore without stopping at New Scenic Café? Right off of Highway 61, this place is an ideal stop on the way to or from Gooseberry Falls, Two Harbors, or Split Rock Lighthouse. The atmosphere is somewhat upscale for being a stop on the side of the road. But it’s the food that makes this place stand out as one of the best places to eat in the North Shore region. You can go wrong with trying the duck breast or mussels. View the seasonal menu here.
Dinner places in Duluth, MN
Lake Avenue Café
Lake Avenue café will forever and always be one of my favorite restaurants in Duluth, MN. I’ve been coming here since I was 12 years old, and even as Duluth has changed over the years, this place has remained true to its family-owned roots. Not to mention, the people that work here are seriously culinary and mixology geniuses. Everything I’ve had here is unique and makes me feel cozy like I’m eating in someone’s house. The menu changes seasonally, but I really love the coconut chicken soup and the rainbow trout. You can view the dinner menu here.
Va Bene is another one of those places in Duluth that still has a mom-and-pop feel. With homemade pizza, pastas, and dolce, this place is like a little slice of authentic Italy in Duluth. The prime view overlooking Lake Superior is also a huge selling point. Make sure to make a reservation beforehand, as it does get busy pretty much year round. You can’t go wrong with any of the pastas or gelatos, honestly. You can view the full dinner menu here.
The Boat House
I debated putting Fitgers on this menu as it is popular, but truthfully, I like the Boat House better. The Boat House is located in the Fitgers building right along the water and decorated with nautical décor. The concept of the restaurant is to watch the bigger boats come in and out of Duluth on Lake Superior. This is why they provide you with binoculars and a boat schedule. I would recommend the mushroom risotto or lobster roll. You can view the full menu here.
If knowing what bad sushi looks like when I see it makes me a sushi snob, then so be it. But believe me when I see that Hanabi Sushi is the real deal. I’ve been coming here for over 5 years, and still to this day think they have probably the best sushi in Duluth (my mom agrees). The staff is always very attentive and informed, and the sushi is always fresh. It’s a great place for a birthday dinner or a special date night. I recommend trying the mango white tuna or the love boat sushi platter. You can learn more about Hanabi on Facebook here.
JJ Astor takes high class to a whole new level- literally. This rotating restaurant provides a panoramic view of entire region from atop the Radisson in Duluth. The floor turns so slow you can barely tell, but within about an hour and half you will have done a full 360 looking out over Duluth and the surrounding North Shore region. It is a favorite upscale date-night experience for both locals and tourists for this reason. It is recommend trying the walleye or the osso bucco. You can view the full menu here.