Exterior of OMC Smokehouse and stepped flower planters
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10 of the Best Restaurants in Duluth

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OMC Smokehouse is one of many delightful destinations in Duluth's Lincoln Park Craft District / Visit Duluth

10 of the Best Restaurants in Duluth

av Aegor Ray

The next time you visit Minnesota's great port city of Duluth, taste your way across the city's dazzling range of cuisines, moods and flavors at these 10 restaurants. Set against the sublime, rugged beauty of Lake Superior, each promises unforgettable flavors and distinctly Duluth scenery.

  1. At Sara's Table Chester Creek Cafe
    At Sara's Table Chester Creek Cafe

    For a thoughtfully prepared meal in a cozy environment, there's no better place to claim your spot than At Sara's Table. The unpretentious vibe of this neighborhood restaurant belies an international menu that offers something for everyone. Honoring a farm-to-table ethos, each plate is a bright and balanced showcase for local ingredients whether you’re ordering Korean vegan bulgogi tacos or rye spätzle with Polish sausage. 

  2. Duluth Grill
    Duluth Grill

    Don't let its unassuming exterior and location just off the freeway fool you: Duluth Grill is one of the city's most beloved restaurants, with an energy and menu that is warm, modern and delicious. Like its sister restaurant OMC Smokehouse, Duluth Grill features well-prepared classics with eclectic touches, such as a creamy Havarti omelet stuffed with salmon smoked in-house. Comfort foods like biscuits and gravy or chicken and waffles are given contemporary twists and feature local ingredients — some of which, like beets and fresh herbs, are grown in raised beds just outside the front door.

  3. Hanabi
    Sushi at Hanabi in Duluth

    Sushi at Hanabi in Duluth

    Hanabi

    Downtown Duluth is lucky to have the perfect happy hour spot. Hanabi’s delicate sashimi, elaborate specialty rolls and grilled teriyaki items are beautifully complemented by a selection of sakes and imported beers. The happy hour features major deals on a pared-down version of the original menu.

  4. Northern Waters Smokehaus
    Platter of smoked fish from Northern Waters Smokehaus

    Northern Waters Smokehaus in Duluth is your one-stop shop for locally sourced smoked fish and other gourmet treats / Northern Waters Smokehaus

    Northern Waters Smokehaus

    With over 25 different mouthwatering sandwiches on the menu plus a veritable rainbow of locally sourced smoked fish, artisanally cured meats and other gourmet treats, Northern Waters Smokehaus is the perfect place to stock up before a lakeshore picnic. Try the Cajun Fin, a deceptively simple combination of Cajun smoked Atlantic salmon, roasted red peppers, cream cheese and pepperoncini on ciabatta bread. Or dig into a zhuzhed up liverwurst sandwich dubbed The Hedonist, which more than lives up to its name: a soft roll is slathered with savory, melt-in-your mouth country pâté and studded with bright cornichons and other fixings. Kids and other burgeoning gourmands in your party will be happy, too, with offerings like grilled cheese, mortadella on white bread, and a toasted bagel with scallion schmear. 

  5. OMC Smokehouse
    OMC Smokehouse

    Founded in 2017, OMC Smokehouse quickly made a name for itself as a mainstay in Minnesota barbecue. The restaurant’s ambiance is rustic with an edgy twist, complete with a wide, fire pit-studded patio and a selection of craft brews procured from Bent Paddle Brewing Co., another must-visit destination in the burgeoning Lincoln Park Craft District. Appetizers of pork rinds and house-made hot sauces will certainly whet your appetite for the meatier main event: melt-in-your-mouth ribs, sweet pulled pork and smoky chicken. The brisket, smoked for 12 hours and sliced to order, is a real showstopper. Try it with a side of elote served off the cob for a buttery and bold plate.

  6. Taste of Saigon
    Taste of Saigon in Duluth

    Taste of Saigon 

    Taste of Saigon

    This place is a gem: simple and elegant, with stellar service to boot. Chinese and Vietnamese dishes are speedily prepared inside the historic DeWitt Seitz Marketplace building in the heart of Canal Park. The egg rolls alone are reason enough to make the trip to Taste of Saigon. The crispy, flaky wrapper conceals a moist pork filling and is served with house-made nước chấm — a sweet, sour and umami-rich Vietnamese dipping sauce.

  7. Love Creamery
    An ice cream cone at Love Creamery

    Love Creamery

    Love Creamery

    Head to Canal Park or the Lincoln Park Craft District for Love Creamery's crave-worthy ice cream, handcrafted with local ingredients in small batches on the premises. Flavors range from comforting, familiar combos like butter pecan and mint chocolate chip to palate-expanding house specialties like honey lavender, cardamom apple pie, and turmeric honeycomb. There's even a chokecherry chip on there menu at Lincoln Park that's enhanced by almond extract and locally foraged fruit. 

  8. Va Bene
    Va Bene, an Italian restaurant in Duluth

    Va Bene

    Va Bene

    Take in stunning views of Lake Superior while enjoying pastas and imaginative salads in Va Bene's incredible, enclosed solarium. Signature cocktails and martinis are a delightful departure from the craft beer scene while still celebrating Minnesota-distilled spirits from Vikre and Tattersall. Try the seared scallop entree for a sumptuous cognac and cream sauce, and pair your meal with an aperol spritz for ultimate summer satisfaction.  

  9. Vanilla Bean Restaurant
    The smelt plate at Vanilla Bean in Duluth

    The smelt plate at Vanilla Bean

    Vanilla Bean Restaurant

    It’s all about the sweet rolls at Vanilla Bean. Okay, it’s all about the nutty cranberry wild rice pancakes, too. Well, it’s also about the walleye cakes smeared with delicious lemon dill sauce. And in the early summer, it’s definitely about the smelt basket, celebrating Duluth’s yearly smelt run. This is a neighborhood cafe where you’d want to stay awhile — long enough to warrant getting an extra sweet roll for the road.

  10. Vitta Pizza
    Vitta Pizza

    Who doesn’t love pizza? The family favorite is approached as a craft at Vitta Pizza, where Neapolitan pizza reigns. The dough is made with high-heat-withstanding Italian flour, and topped with pleasantly bitter olive oil, fresh mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes. Each pizza is fired for precisely 97 seconds, resulting in a crisp and smoky pie that's sure to become a staple of your Duluth vacations for many years to come. 

Aegor Ray

Aegor Ray is a writer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is currently working on a collection of short stories.