With a mixture of well-established favorites and innovative newcomers, Duluth’s restaurant scene continues to surprise and impress visitors. The city’s restaurants are embracing the locavore movement and craft breweries are becoming increasingly popular. From fine-dining to low-key cafés, there’s no shortage of places to unwind after a day exploring the best of Minnesota’s renowned natural scenery in Duluth.
At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Café specializes in international cuisine prepared using fresh, local ingredients. The restaurant is dedicated to producing a true farm-to-table menu, with a garden found on-site where broccoli, radishes, fresh herbs, rhubarb and other ingredients are grown. The interior is welcoming and cozy, with comfortable booths and a warm fireplace. The menu features American classics, as well as a few global dishes like Baja Fish Tacos and Thai curry. The varied drink menu includes a fantastic selection of teas and coffees, in addition to creative cocktails, local beers, and wines by the glass or bottle.
Bellisio’s is known for its authentic Italian cuisine and extensive wine menu. Designed to recreate the atmosphere of a charming Italian hillside restaurant, the restaurant’s interior is casual yet classy with seating also available on a lovely outdoor patio. The menu offers a selection of paninis, burgers, and pastas. The knowledgeable staff recommend pairings from an outstanding wine menu. The restaurant offers over 500 labels, with 125 different wines available by the glass.
Bellisio’s, 405 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN, USA, +1 218 727 4921
Black Woods is a locally-owned restaurant that serves up American cuisine in an intimate setting. Originally opened in 1994 in Two Harbors, the restaurant has expanded to include several locations across Northern Minnesota. In addition to ribs, steaks, flatbreads, rotisserie chicken, fish, pasta and seasonal specialties, the restaurant is known for its early afternoon and late night Happy Hour specials. Stop by on Sunday for their popular breakfast and try the Crabby Ben, which consists of jumbo crab cakes on grilled English muffins with farm-fresh basted eggs, covered in house-made Hollandaise sauce and served alongside breakfast potatoes.
Black Woods, 2525 London Rd, Duluth, MN, USA, +1 218 724 1612
Fitger’s Brewhouse offers a menu of artisanal pub fare. Fitger’s Brewhouse emphasizes local ingredients, including grass-fed beef sourced from the restaurant’s own herd of Scottish Highland cattle. The menu also offers an excellent selection of vegetarian entrées, such as the popular Harvest Moon Wild Rice Burger which is served on multigrain bun and comes with a variety of different veggie toppings. Often credited with sparking Duluth’s reputation as an exciting craft beer city, the restaurant offers a selection of a dozen different handcrafted brews, ranging from English-style ales to dark German lagers.
Fitger’s Brewhouse, 600 E Superior St, Duluth, MN, USA, +1 218 279 2739
Opened in 1999, the New Scenic Café is an intimate, contemporary American restaurant. Located on the scenic North Shore of Lake Superior, the café is surrounded by a charming garden of herbs, vegetables, and flowers. Inside, the atmosphere is equally welcoming with warm, wood-paneled walls decorated with local artwork. The restaurant’s menu changes with the seasons, incorporating local ingredients wherever possible. Expect entrées like the leek frittata with butternut squash, roasted cauliflower, rye, carrot purée, creamed leek greens and red quinoa, or an egg sandwich served on ciabatta with sweet harissa, creamed leek, and spinach.
New Scenic Café, 5461 North Shore Drive, Duluth, MN, USA, +1 218 525 6274
Northern Waters is a unique restaurant specializing in smoked meats and fish. Opened in 1998, the restaurant draws on Lake Superior region’s long-standing history of smoked preservation to create modern flavors and products. Owner Eric Goerdt has been studying fish smoking for more than two decades, and strives to constantly push the boundaries of smoking techniques. The menu features gourmet deli sandwiches, as well as takeaway smoked fish and meats. Located within walking distance of Lake Superior, customers often take their meals to enjoy lakeside. Go for the Pastrami Mommy, a quarter pound of Bison Pastrami, provolone, pepperoncini and fresh greens on Red Mug rye with mustard and mayo.
Va Bene takes its name from an Italian expression meaning ‘it goes well’, fitting for a restaurant that combines beautiful views with outstanding cuisine. Seating is offered at tables overlooking Lake Superior or street side on a front patio that’s perfect for people-watching. The menu focuses on cuisine from the Apennine Peninsula and Sicily regions, with sauces dressings, and breads all made from scratch with imported Italian items. The extensive pasta menu can be prepared with gluten-free pasta upon request. Be sure to save room for the gelato/sorbet bar which features a rotating selection of flavors, such as Mackinaw Island fudge and Madagascar bourbon vanilla.
Va Bene, 734 E Superior St, Duluth, MN, United States, +1 218 722 1518
Zeitgeist Arts Café offers innovative American cuisine in a unique setting. The café is part of the Zeitgeist complex, a two-level space that also houses a movie theater and art gallery. An initiative of the Zeppa Center for Arts and Community, all the profits from the complex go towards the organizations community-oriented projects. The menu includes a variety of burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads and rice bowls. The restaurant also offers an exceptional brunch menu on Saturday and Sunday, featuring dishes like Pork Belly Hash and Croque Monsieur Benedict, along with Bloody Mary’s prepared with housemade bacon-infused vodka.
Zeitgeist Arts Café, 222 E Superior St, Duluth, MN, USA, +1 218 722 9100