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There are sights and sounds that make any Duluth day a perfect one: the way the sun glints off the giant lake and the slate-colored rocks on the shore; the bellow and clang call-and-answer of ships and the Aerial Lift Bridge, and the breathtaking views from the curves of Skyline Drive and Enger Tower, where you can see up the North Shore and the working docks of Superior.

It's easy to fall in love with the city. There's nature everywhere, art and music around nearly every corner and a food scene that keeps getting better.

When casting about for a great meal, there are so many options that you can let your mood be your guide. Rather than retread all of the worthwhile favorites (Duluth Grill, the Pickwick, Grandma's, New Scenic and the like) we're recommending other favorites that are worth a try if it has been a while, and some that are relatively new to the scene.

To make the list easier to use, clip or bookmark, we've broken it down by meals to maximize every eating minute of the day. And if you're one who can't get enough of those lake views, look for the 🌊 for spots where you can take in some of that glorious expanse of water.

At 190 Degrees, fresh pastry and coffee are the perfect base for a day of cruising through the artisan shops of Lincoln Park.
At 190 Degrees, fresh pastry and coffee are the perfect base for a day of cruising through the artisan shops of Lincoln Park.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

First things first: Coffee and breakfast

190 Degrees Coffee and Tea

One of the best ways to start a Duluth day is with the soft (or biting) breezes off the lake. 190 Degrees is at the base of Enger Lofts, and there's a whole wall of windows open to catch those breezes. The coffee, tea and other beverages are top-notch. Plus, there is a selection of croissants and pastries, and they've been known to have the fabulous Johnson Bakery doughnuts in the case. Grab a bite and a cup before exploring the pretty little shops inside the building. 1832 W. Superior St., Suite 103, Duluth, 190coffeeandtea.com

At Sara's Table Chester Creek Cafe 🌊

This sweet neighborhood cafe will always win for most convoluted name of a cozy restaurant. At Sara's Table Chester Creek Cafe has become a breakfast and lunch must-visit for fans to take a break from the hectic, touristy Canal Park area and get some healthy-ish food (they have their own gardens). On nice days, there's an outdoor deck that gives great views down the hill with Lake Superior in the distance. 1902 E. 8th St., Duluth, astccc.net

Early morning treats for gluten lovers are now available at three Duluth's Best Bread locations in Duluth and Superior.
Early morning treats for gluten lovers are now available at three Duluth's Best Bread locations in Duluth and Superior.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

Duluth's Best Bread

With a name like that, it better be good. Luckily, they're not all talk. The power of great baking has helped grow Duluth's Best Bread to three locations β€” from a tiny stop in West Duluth to the newest on Tower Avenue (in Superior, for the adventurous). A perfect morning is a cup of coffee from nearby Duluth Coffee and the caramel roll, a wonder of buttery sugar. Grab a loaf or two of bread for dinner or lunch sandwiches for the week ahead. 120 E. Superior St., Duluth; 2632 W. 3rd St., Duluth; 1418 Tower Av., Superior, Wis.; duluthsbestbread.com

A bowl of fresh granola plus coffee from Duluth Coffee Cafe is excellent fuel for a grand Duluth day.
A bowl of fresh granola plus coffee from Duluth Coffee Cafe is excellent fuel for a grand Duluth day.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

Duluth Coffee Cafe and Roastery

It's not an exaggeration to say that when Duluth Coffee Co. opened in 2012, it forever changed the city's coffee landscape. In the years since, the availability of fantastic third wave coffee has proliferated, but this is still ground zero for a fantastic cup. (Or to inhale the scent of the beans, because the smell is the best kind of perfume.) The shop recently expanded into the space next door, adding a cafe with breakfast and lunch options, such as stuffed breakfast burritos and crunchy granola yogurt bowls. 105 E. Superior St., Duluth; duluthcoffeecompany.com

Falastin is Duluth's first Palestinian cafe, serving family recipes, coffee, sweet treats and a selection of imported goods.
Falastin is Duluth's first Palestinian cafe, serving family recipes, coffee, sweet treats and a selection of imported goods.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

Falastin

This brand-new cafe in the Lakeside neighborhood bills itself as the city's first Palestinian restaurant. Open only Fridays and Saturdays for breakfast and lunch, Falastin serves espresso drinks and tea in the mornings and segues to fresh hummus and falafel made from a family recipe. The cafe sells goods imported from Palestine farmers and makers. There are a few tables inside, but much of the menu would also make for a great picnic along the north shore or near the Lester River. 4721 E. Superior St., Duluth, falastin.co

Bridgeman's

Located near Miller Hill Mall, Bridgeman's is open all day, but breakfast is the best time to visit. The restaurant hits the right mix of nostalgia β€” the first Bridgeman's scoop shop opened in Duluth in 1936 β€” and modern tastes. There are cinnamon roll pancakes, hearty skillets (called skizzles here) and cornbread biscuits and gravy. But ice cream counts as a breakfast food, too. There are old fashioned scoops, build-your-own-sundaes and mega malts that are an entire occasion on their own. The ice cream is beloved around the region, but this is the only Bridgeman's restaurant. 2202 Mountain Shadow Dr., Duluth, duluthbridgemans.com; closed Sundays

Fitger's Brewery complex houses several shops, a hotel and the Boat Club restaurant that offers spectacular lake views.
Fitger's Brewery complex houses several shops, a hotel and the Boat Club restaurant that offers spectacular lake views.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

Savor later in the day: Lunch and dinner

The Boat Club 🌊

Tucked into the lower level of Fitger's Brewhouse, the Boat Club faces the lake with huge windows that make for gorgeous views in the dining room, especially when the giant ships glitter in the distance at night. When the weather is mild, there are tables outside, too. The prices put dinner squarely in the realm of special occasion dining; start with the classic crab and artichoke dip and follow up with a rib-eye or a roasted walleye fillet. Happy hour and daily brunch offer more affordable options. 600 E. Superior St., Duluth, boatclubrestaurant.com

Hanabi

Great sushi might not be the first thing that comes to mind when pondering the culinary stylings of Duluth. However, the skill and flavor found at Hanabi make it an undersung gem that doesn't get nearly enough praise. Indulge in all the hand rolls and sashimi your greedy little seafood-starved heart desires. The setting is charming, too, with a full bar stocked with sake, Sapporo beer and a lineup of cocktails. Even for those who don't love a raw fish moment, there is ramen and tempura goodies, too. 110 N. 1st Av. W., Duluth

Lake Avenue Restaurant & Bar

Since 1991, this cafe has been one of the best places to enjoy the abundance of local, seasonal cuisine in Duluth. It shows off everything cool about the city, right down to the tables made by an artisan friend. The bar pours excellent craft cocktails, leaning into small-distillery spirits; dinner always feels like a special occasion and the brunch delivers fresh reasons to get up and going every weekend. After more than 30 years, it'd be easy to settle into a groove. But the Lake Avenue team continues to strive for creativity and invention on a daily basis. 394 S. Lake Av., Duluth, lakeaveduluth.com

The new location of Northern Waters Smokehaus includes inside room for a large deli, a stage for entertainment plus a roomy patio –right in the heart of Canal Park.
The new location of Northern Waters Smokehaus includes inside room for a large deli, a stage for entertainment plus a roomy patio –right in the heart of Canal Park.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

Northern Waters Smokehaus 🌊

What was a sliver of a smoked meat and sandwich shop is now a full, subterranean restaurant in the DeWitt-Seitz Building in Canal Park. The former Amazing Grace Cafe and Grocery has been transformed into a sandwich lover's paradise with a deli counter and freezer case stocked with goodies to take home. Plus, the space came with a stage, so there's room to enjoy Duluth's vibrant local music scene. Everyone seems to have a favorite Northern Waters order, and all are present and ready at the new address. (But Sitka Sushi is the correct answer for best sandwich.) Grab a seat outside to enjoy the lake views and Canal Park action. 394 Lake Av. S., lower level, Duluth, northernwaterssmokehaus.com

The classic pho is a must-order at PhoHolic, a family-run restaurant in Duluth.
The classic pho is a must-order at PhoHolic, a family-run restaurant in Duluth.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

PhoHolic

Owner Ann Nguyen's restaurant is a family affair: The pho recipe, from her husband's family, was carried back from Vietnam, and her sons work alongside her in the restaurant. Walking in, the unmistakable aroma of warm spice and rich broth fills the room; a bowl of the signature soup is a must-order. It's an extraordinary clear broth with its luscious, light viscosity floating along the surface. But the menu extends to other favorites, including egg rolls and bΓ nh mΓ­. The setting is simple, however the parking lot is hectic and can be difficult to navigate on busy days. Best to go in off hours for the most relaxing savoring. 309 E. Central Entrance, Duluth, phoholicduluth.com

Some of the most coveted seats of summer are the ones on the patio at Sir Ben's.
Some of the most coveted seats of summer are the ones on the patio at Sir Ben's.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

Sir Benedict's Tavern on the Lake 🌊

There are almost always musicians on hand at Sir Ben's. Whether they're performing or gathering in their off hours, this casual sandwich and beer restaurant is a draw for the thriving local artistic community. The patio is wildly popular on sunny days for its fabulous views of Lake Superior. Inside is all the charm of an English pub. 805 E. Superior St., Duluth, sirbens.com

Melanie Albanese of Thunder Bay, Ontario dines with her spouse Domenic Albanese on the outdoor grotto at Va Bene Caffe along Lake Superior in Duluth on Sunday, June 16, 2024.
Melanie Albanese of Thunder Bay, Ontario dines with her spouse Domenic Albanese on the outdoor grotto at Va Bene Caffe along Lake Superior in Duluth on Sunday, June 16, 2024.

Erica Dischino Special to the St

Va Bene 🌊

This fresh, casual Italian restaurant feels like dining right on the water, even from the inside. Located above the Lakewalk, there's a slim patio that looks right down the rocky incline to the water. Inside, protected from the bluster when the lake gets going, is a front-row seat to the majesty of Gitche Gumee. On the menu is everything from espresso, wine and cocktails to an array of pastas, risottos and paninis β€” and gelato. There are also several good gluten-free and vegan options. 734 E. Superior St., Duluth, vabenecaffe.com

The Ritual Salad and Apothecary serves a variety of fresh greens and has a witchy selection of things to shop for, including herbs and crystals.
The Ritual Salad and Apothecary serves a variety of fresh greens and has a witchy selection of things to shop for, including herbs and crystals.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

Ritual Salad

Magic spells, empowerment and fresh greens make for a magical little shop at the edge of the arts district. The menu is filled with bright, fresh flavors and vegetables all in salad form. Diners can build their own or choose from an array of ingredients for the perfect greens-and-goods combo. Everything is made from scratch and fresh to order. While at the shop, there are trinkets, spells, stickers, sage bundles and more for the witchy inclined. Open since April 1, Ritual Salad offers one table inside, a couple more outside and to-go options. 1802 W. Superior St., Duluth, ritualsalad.com

Hungry Hippie traveled down from Grand Marais to Lincoln Park and they brought their frybread tacos with them.
Hungry Hippie traveled down from Grand Marais to Lincoln Park and they brought their frybread tacos with them.

Hungry Hippie 🌊

Hungry Hippie tacos took a road trip down from Grand Marais to open a Duluth outpost in the Lincoln Park Arts District. Now the tacos that fans have come to love up the North Shore are now available in the city, including the fry bread taco. For those not lucky enough to have experienced these at a city festival or pow wow, fry bread is a yeasted dough that's deep fried, stuffed with seasoned meat, shredded cheese, lettuce and a little salsa. It's good, decadent eating. The large patio might also give a couple of glimpses at the lake, if you crane your neck. 1810 W. Superior St., Duluth, hungryhippietacos.com

Bali Asian Kitchen

While some girls dreamed of princess dresses, Nevi Mariadi dreamed of being a chef and having her own restaurant. Bali Asian Kitchen made that dream a reality, and the world is a tastier place for it. On the menu is a mix of Asian dishes like the family recipe for bakwan jagung, a crispy corn fritter, deep bowls of ramen with creamy broth and fresh poke bowls alongside entrees like rendang, a Balinese beef stew. The dining room is filled with warm wood tones and industrial touches. 1931 W. Superior St., Duluth, baliasiancuisine.com

Kai Soderberg, the owner and operator of Jade Fountain, mixes a nonalcoholic hibiscus ginger inside his new cocktail bar in West Duluth.
Kai Soderberg, the owner and operator of Jade Fountain, mixes a nonalcoholic hibiscus ginger inside his new cocktail bar in West Duluth.

Star Tribune, Star Tribune

Drinks

Bent Paddle Brewing Co.

There are plenty of breweries in Duluth, but Bent Paddle continues to shine as one of the state's top brew destinations. The cozy, family-friendly taproom and outside area are an ideal setting for any kind of Duluth day. In addition to the lineup of usual beers, like the Duluth Coffee Black Ale collaboration, there are NA beverages and seasonal drinks on tap. They've also added a canna lounge for those who love to sip a THC beverage by the big lake. There's no food on site, but there's the occasional food truck (including favorite Log Cabin pizza) and the local delivery service Food Dudes will bring eats from area favorites right to the taproom. 1832 W. Michigan St., Duluth, bentpaddlebrewing.com

A neighborhood bar that's perfect for warm hospitality and cold drinks.
A neighborhood bar that's perfect for warm hospitality and cold drinks.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

Carmody Irish Pub

Even though it's at the edge of the downtown strip, Carmody Pub has all the feels of a great neighborhood bar. The seats and bar are worn by years of patrons gathering over a pint to discuss all that's good or ill in the world. Enjoy a local band while nursing a blessedly affordable cocktail. A fun bit of trivia: the bar served as a setting for the 2022 Hulu holiday rom-com "Merry Kiss Cam" that was filmed in the city. Sure, there were green trees in the background of a supposedly Duluth Christmas, but it was still fun to see the city on the small screen. 308 E. Superior St., Duluth, carmodypub.com

Jade Fountain

Duluth native Kai Soderberg opened a bar inside a historic Chinese restaurant and had the chutzpah to change almost nothing, except to add a few punk rock embellishments. This is ground zero for great cocktails in the city and a place that should be a destination for both visitors and those living outstate. The room is blessedly dark and shielded from the elements. Soderberg recently added a food menu, and it includes all kinds of tantalizing dishes like sticky wings, Thai larb salad and Vietnamese beef with crispy fried potatoes. 305 N. Central Av., Duluth, jade-fountain.com

A unique pairing: Wild State Cider features Vermont-style soft serve.
A unique pairing: Wild State Cider features Vermont-style soft serve.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

Wild State Cider

The snappy, balanced, refreshing flavors of Wild State Cider's lineup of hard ciders pairs perfectly with the bracing cold of a wind shift off the lake. With flavors like Hazy Pink Pineapple, Juicy Pear and Raspberry Hibiscus, the ciders are just as fun as the bright taproom. There's a large patio off to the side, and even though it might not seem like a natural pairing, order a pint and an ice cream cone. (More on that below.) 2515 W. Superior St., Duluth, wildstatecider.com

Inside the cocktail room at Vikre Distillery, the current drink menu celebrates their greatest hits of the past 10 years. Plus, visitors can buy bottles to go, and there's a patio out back that faces the harbor.
Inside the cocktail room at Vikre Distillery, the current drink menu celebrates their greatest hits of the past 10 years. Plus, visitors can buy bottles to go, and there's a patio out back that faces the harbor.

Erica Dischino Special to the St

Vikre Distillery 🌊

Even those who haven't been to the barroom have likely sipped Vikre's clean, crisp gins β€” they taste like an ode to the lake up the North Shore. Vikre has made a business of putting the best spirits of the region in a cocktail glass, and the tradition continues in the cocktail room with highly coveted seats. (There's a seasonal patio, too.) If you're lucky, the new seasonal strawberry rhubarb gin will be on the menu. For those on the go, the distillery also sells the company's canned cocktails for road tripping up to the cabin. Plus, Vikre is right next to the Aerial Lift Bridge, which is just cool. 525 Lake Av. S., Duluth, vikredistillery.com

Cool treats

Camp Creemee is one of the few places to get Vermont-style soft serve ice cream.
Camp Creemee is one of the few places to get Vermont-style soft serve ice cream.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

Camp Creemee

There aren't too many places in Minnesota to get a proper creemee. Inside Wild State Cider's bright, open taproom, Camp Creemee is the place for Vermont-style, soft serve ice cream. Towers of luscious ice cream, sweetened with maple syrup or imbued with summery fresh strawberries, is swirled up inside freshly made waffle cones. The treat pairs wonderfully with the raspberry hibiscus cider. 2515 W. Superior St., Duluth, instagram.com/campcreemee

Love Creamery 🌊

Billed as Duluth's first all-local, mostly organic ice cream shop, Love Creamery began as the brainchild of Nicole Wilde. With its creative flavors β€” rhubarb, buttermilk vanilla, honey lavender and dirty chai from local vendor Zenith City Chai β€” the love has spread to two shops, the original in Lincoln Park and one right in the middle of the action in Canal Park. In addition to scoops, there are frozen treats that include ice cream sandwiches, cream puffs from Positively 3rd Street Bakery, ice cream bars and a forever favorite: affogato made with Duluth Coffee Zenith Espresso. There are several vegan options, too. 1908 W. Superior St.; 366 S. Lake Av., Duluth; lovecreamery.com

Just up from the Lakewalk, this converted gas station has served generations of Duluthians ice cream treats every summer.
Just up from the Lakewalk, this converted gas station has served generations of Duluthians ice cream treats every summer.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

PortLand Malt Shoppe 🌊

An idyllic ice cream stand located just above the Lakewalk, not far from Fitger's, PortLand Malt Shoppe has served generations of scoop fans. Classic ice cream flavors mean that everyone's favorite is ready for a scoop or two in cones, sundaes, malts, shakes and floats. One of the sweet bits about the scoop shop is that it's only open for the season β€” best enjoy it while we have the chance. 716 E. Superior St., Duluth, portlandmaltshoppe.com

And we didn't forget the classics: Grandma's, Pickwick, the Duluth Grill, Fitger's Brewhouse, OMC Smokehouse and Sammy's Pizza all go without saying.