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Best New Restaurant Nominees

Two weeks ago, we announced Duluth Grill won our poll for Perfect Breakfast Restaurant. Now we’re wondering which restaurant among the newbies you like best.

Before we open the voting, of course, we have to establish a list of nominees. What qualifies as a new restaurant? Well, these are all fairly new:

Shorty’s Pizza and Smoked Meat (Superior; Aug. 2013)
Citys 58th Street Diner (Superior; June 2013)
Canal Park Brewing Co. (Nov. 2012)
7 West Tap House (Oct. 2012)
LeeAnn Chin (Oct. 2012)
Noodles & Company (Sept. 2012)
Pak’s Green Corner (Aug. 2012)
Grizzly’s Wood-fired Grill (Canal Park location; May 2012)
Giant Panda (Feb. 2012)
Oriental House II (Jan. 2012)
Tycoons Alehouse & Eatery (Dec. 2011)
Azteca’s Mexican Grill (Dec. 2011)
Vitta Pizza (June 2011)

What territory are we talking about? Anything in Duluth or 10 miles of its border — so new restaurants in Superior, Hermantown, Proctor and the various bordering townships all qualify; Two Harbors and Cloquet are out of bounds.

So, the only question we’re really asking here: Are there any good nominees we didn’t think to include in the list above?

46 Comment(s)

  1. Shorty’s Pizza and Smoked Meat
    Superior, WI
    Opened: August, 2013
    (Great addition to Tower Avenue)

    Citys 58th Street Diner
    Superior, WI
    Opened: June, 2013

    Rae | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  2. When did chain restaurants become eligible?

    If that’s the case, why don’t we just create a one-category, mandatory vote for Sysco (who rebranded recently, if you’re paying attention), turn off the lights, and head to the beach.

    adam | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  3. Eligible isn’t the same as winning. And keep in mind that Duluth Grill started as an Embers.

    Paul Lundgren | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  4. The question is what is the best new restaurant in the Duluth area. Yes, Noodles is a chain, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is new to our area. Wouldn’t you like to know if Noodles beats out a non-franchise? Or you can play the hipster card and refuse , on principal, to participate in any internet poll that gives credit to the main stream restaurant business while you drink PBR.

    gluvin | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  5. What’s wrong with PBR??

    not there | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  6. I’m with Adam on this. Trust me, I’m no hipster (being formally disqualified from that status, due to being 49 and being asleep by 8 p.m. nightly). But tourists will, hopefully, use this type of list to find our local restaurants, bars, or whatever, that help confirm the quality of our city. How depressing if a tourist instead finds out that ‘Noodles’ is the best new restaurant in town. They can go to their own local Noodles anytime.

    emmadogs | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  7. …and p.s….No inside-the-mall food store would especially entice a local resident, or tourist, as ‘best new restaurant’ in town.

    emmadogs | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  8. I’m with Adam as well. Places like Perkins, Bridgemans, etc weren’t included on the breakfast survey, and if that survey was also open to chains, why not? I think surveys like this are most useful when they are kept to places that are unique to the area (Duluth).

    wskyline | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  9. Adam, where do you eat? I wonder because I doubt there is a single restaurant in Duluth that does not get at least some of its products from Sysco or Upper Lakes Food or some other large distributor. I’ve mentioned this before, but a great many products at the WFC also carry Sysco products, but WFC has them deliver around back early in the a.m. and the labeling tries to downplay the distributor. Those “house brand” condiments at Uncle Louie’s, etc? Sysco. Even Duluth Grill, what with its own gardens and the emphasis on local meats, etc., buys at least some food from Sysco. (I enjoy the Grill, but sure wish they’d buy ketchup from Sysco, or any other distributor for that matter; when someone tells me to bring my own ketchup they are pretty much telling me to go to another restaurant because they don’t need my business).

    I guess what I’m suggesting is that as far as where the food comes from isn’t so black and white. But I agree with the essential point: Keep the poll choices local, no franchises. And yes, we should all head to the beach.

    Tony D. | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  10. Woot to Tony D., again.

    Does the change in ownership from Italian Village to Italian Market count?

    Does Minnesota Wine Exchange count? The menu is terribly small, but on the other hand, they would be nearly only competitor in the “wine bar category…” | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  11. Again, I’d like to point out that being listed as an option is not the same as winning. If a chain wins, then it deserves to win; but if it is so inherently inferior in your mind then you should realize it will not win.

    The nomination process was a little different for the breakfast poll, in that the initial post didn’t throw out any options. There were many places that were never brought up as options, which was fine on the theory that if no one even wanted to mention those places as options then those places weren’t going to get many votes. So it’s not like Perkins was disqualified, it just wasn’t mentioned.

    In this case I started from the perspective of listing as many new places as I could think of, knowing I’d probably miss a few, but that there probably weren’t enough new restaurants that we’d need to get too picky about what to exclude.

    In the case of Gannucci’s Italian Market, I think its many years of history as the Italian Village kind of take away from its newness, but it could certainly qualify for Most Improved Restaurant.

    I thought about the Wine Exchange, but with the food menu being so limited it’s hard to imagine it winning a restaurant award.

    I suppose if there is a popular push to include either I’d be open to it. If they were to get votes it would pretty much mean people think they qualify.

    Paul Lundgren | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  12. It seems that even those who want to eat local, no chains… still want chain ketchup. Can’t you eat Heinz at home?

    secretseasons | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  13. New is so not 2011! Puhlease

    heysme | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  14. The Whole Foods Co-op doesn’t get deliveries from Sysco; however, it does get deliveries from large distributors, mostly United Natural Foods, Inc. and Albert’s Organics. There is not an attempt to hide it by the “deliveries around back … early in the morning.” Every product tag in the store has the distributor listed on it for all to see if they wish.

    moosetracks | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  15. What about Grizzly’s in canal. Sorta new. Probably deserves to make the list.

    hansel | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  16. I would chime in on this debate but when looking at that list, it is so terribly obvious which has the best food, that the point is moot.

    spy1 | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  17. Isn’t there a new deli where Jalapeno Express was?
    …doesn’t speak volumes that I’m not sure of the name.

    Zacaroo | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  18. You’re a big fan of Oriental House II, Spy1? | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  19. Totally agree about the ketchup at Duluth Grill. I bring my own as honey tomato ketchup is kind of gross.

    I am hoping that with Noodles & Co. that Chipotle is coming soon. Every time I go to the cities I get a few burritos in bowls and have them wrap the tortillas on the side… Luckily my wife worked there in college and can still wrap a mean burrito. Each time I do this I tell the workers that they must come to Duluth. I also am on their email list and reply each time begging them to come here.

    Endion | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  20. Pak’s rocks it, IMHO. Best food in town.

    Claire | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  21. Pak’s is good food, to be sure, but on the spectrum of “authentic” (as opposed to clever fusion” and “value for the dollar,” Oriental House II slaughters it.

    Doesn’t mean I don’t love Pak’s, but I love Pak’s the way I love Lake Avenue more than I like Duluth Grill. But I eat at Duluth Grill (and Oriental House II) five or six times as often, annually. | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  22. Hansel is right. I overlooked the new Grizzly’s location. I have added it to the list, along with the two newest Superior joints mentioned in the first comment.

    The new deli Zacaroo mentioned is a relocation of Z’s Deli, which had been in the Holiday Center for many years, so that shouldn’t really count.

    Why does a new Grizzly’s count and a new Z’s doesn’t? Because one is a new location/expansion and one is a move. Subtle difference, perhaps, but it makes sense, doesn’t it?

    Paul Lundgren | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  23. The Kounty Quarthouse seems new, or just new to me. Also, I wonder if the new facilities at the bottom of Spirit Mt. stays open year round like they were threatening to?

    pbrstreetgang | Aug 20, 2013 | New Comment
  24. Not really, Paul, if the cooking staff changed.

    That’s one reason why Oriental House II is just as much a new restaurant as Italian Village, right? Because the ownership and staff changed? Or, phrased differently, was 301 a new restaurant when it opened, or was it a relocation of Bennett’s from Fitger’s?

    What if the head cook at the Downtown Grizzly’s was actually relocated from the Mall? Does that make the Mall the new location? Not really, but if I wanted to try something new, I would go where the new head cook was. Burrito Union was, for a brief moment, palatable because a new head cook went in (this was some time ago) who tried things like a turkey burrito.

    To split too many hairs is to either (a) know way more than I do about the staffing and ownership of restaurants or (b) to run the risk of valuing other things than what I value about a restaurant — which is the people who make them run. | Aug 21, 2013 | New Comment
  25. The best thing about this process is that three places across the bridge that have been heretofore ignored on PDD have been brought to light.

    I’m not sure when the Kounty Quarthouse opened, but its Facebook page goes back to May 2011.

    I first heard rave reviews about the Quarthouse last night, when I picked up food at Shorty’s for the first time. And I haven’t been to Citys 58th Street Diner yet.

    Another day of hashing out our list and we should be able to start voting tomorrow.

    Paul Lundgren | Aug 21, 2013 | New Comment
  26. Rhetoricguy: Does a head cook moving from one restaurant to another within the same chain make any difference at all? I always thought the goal of a chain is consistency--an entree at Applebee’s in Duluth is identical to the same dish at every other Applebee’s. Maybe a new head cook could fix some problems if they existed, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t at liberty to play with the menu or come up with new and interesting takes on dishes.

    Barrett Chase | Aug 21, 2013 | New Comment
  27. Kounty Quarthouse is awesome -- but I’m not sure if it satisfys the “within 10 miles of the Duluth border” criteria. It might, if you calculate the distance as a crow flies from Gary New Duluth to it’s location.

    Either way, I’m happy someone else mentioned it.

    Rae | Aug 21, 2013 | New Comment
  28. Sorry to steer off topic again but I wanted to tell Moosetracks that until fairly recently Sysco did indeed supply the Duluth WFC and deliveries were scheduled for early mornings.

    But that is now moot. To me the point is, what difference does it make if your Amy’s frozen lasagna comes on a truck from Sysco or United Natural Foods, Inc. or Albert’s Organics?

    Back to the topic: Why not just put up every restaurant that has opened in the last 12 months and let the voting sort it out?

    Tony D. | Aug 21, 2013 | New Comment
  29. I think it should be unique to the Twin Ports, locally-owned restaurants only.

    Claire | Aug 21, 2013 | New Comment
  30. I think we should only include places that serve Whoppers.

    Ramos | Aug 21, 2013 | New Comment
  31. Ultimately the voting will sort it out, but it’s nice to bicker about these little issues on the front end rather than in the aftermath.

    I think a two-year-old restaurant is still new in the sense that it is just old enough for most people to have eaten there multiple times. Of the list we have so far, I still haven’t been to three of them, and there are six of them that I have only dined at one time. I think the average person voting will tend to be less adventurous than me, yet I would hope people will pick a winner based on more than one visit.

    Take the oldest one on the list for example, Vitta Pizza. I have eaten there one time. I liked it, but I haven’t been back yet. How many of you have been there five or more times? Some of you have, I’m sure, but the vast majority of Duluthians have been there zero to two times. It’s new.

    Is a restaurant suddenly new if it changes chefs or owners or moves across the street? No. It has changed, but it is not new. What if it just changes its name and leaves everything else the same? Sadly, yeah, I’d have to say that probably qualifies it, but no one is going to give out an award for that. It sounds a little backward that the simple cosmetic change of name could be considered more of a difference than real changes in leadership, cooking or atmosphere — heck, I’m second-guessing myself in the middle of this sentence — but I certainly think it would be laughable to call some 30-year-old restaurant “new” because the chef died and was replaced.

    So there will be inclusions and omissions on ballot that can be argued, but ultimately the voters will decide what they like most and believe fits the category. And I can say with confidence that whatever ends up omitted never had a chance of winning. This is a pretty broadly cast net.

    Paul Lundgren | Aug 21, 2013 | New Comment
  32. Tony D,

    You are correct. Duluth Grill does not need your business,

    vicarious | Aug 21, 2013 | New Comment
  33. I think by excluding chains we would basically be rigging the poll. We’d be saying “There might be better restaurants than these, but we didn’t allow our members to express that opinion.” As Paul said, the voting will sort it out. If you prefer a local restaurant, by all means vote for it.

    Barrett Chase | Aug 21, 2013 | New Comment
  34. “So there will be inclusions and omissions on ballot that can be argued, but ultimately the voters will decide what they like most and believe fits the category.”

    They can’t decide if it’s not on the ballot. So I say, open the ballot as widely as possible. | Aug 21, 2013 | New Comment
  35. I’m going to try to get to Oriental House II during the voting period then, see if it is as great as RhetoricGuy says …

    Claire | Aug 21, 2013 | New Comment
  36. Just came from Shorty’s in Superior. The Rueben sandwich was FAR superior to the one I had recently at the new Brewery/restaurant in Canal Park (won’t name names). The meat was tender and juicy, as opposed to being the consistency of jerky/shoe leather.

    Rij | Aug 21, 2013 | New Comment
  37. OH2: Kate says it’s the place that is closest to authentic Vietnamese. Don’t presume that the buffet is anything more than cheap chow. It’s the dinner that matters. | Aug 21, 2013 | New Comment
  38. One thing we never argued about is whether mobile restaurants should count. For that matter, what about Pirate Pizza? I’m leaning toward no on both accounts, but it would be a shame to have no fuss over the matter.

    There seem to be three places that arguments have been made for inclusion here that haven’t been persuasive enough yet.

    1) Kounty Quarthouse. I think it’s been in operation for more than just a couple of years; someone correct me if I’m wrong.

    2) Gannucci’s Italian Village. Even though ownership changed, the name changed, the menu changed and the place was expanded and remodeled, the history of the old Italian Village seems to make it just too weird to call it a “new” restuarant.

    3) Z’s Deli. Although the location is new, this restaurant has the same owners, basically the same menu and some of the same cooks and staff as when it was in the Holiday Center, where it operated for over 20 years.

    All of that being said, we’ll hear last-minute appeals for inclusions of these or other restaurants tonight and start the voting tomorrow.

    Paul Lundgren | Aug 22, 2013 | New Comment
  39. Not to deviate, but “it would be a shame to have no fuss over the matter” gets my vote for “Best Catch Phrase of Forever”.

    emmadogs | Aug 23, 2013 | New Comment
  40. ….and with a tip of the hat to Candidate David Bolgrien’s punctuation skills too.

    emmadogs | Aug 23, 2013 | New Comment
  41. I wonder what kind of arguments would have been strong enough to get Ganucci’s and the new location for Z’s on a list that counts the third Grizzly’s location in the Twin Ports as a new restaurant? Eccentric choices, Lundgren. | Aug 23, 2013 | New Comment
  42. …of course, I would not have voted for either. So moot point.

    This post is the equivalent of being invited over for dinner and complaining about the menu. Sorry for that. | Aug 23, 2013 | New Comment
  43. I was tempted to include those two — Gannucci’s more so than Z’s — because the arguments are indeed compelling, but there’s a certain Occam’s razorish sense I get that they don’t belong and people would be confused by their inclusion, so it would have to be explained on the poll like …

    * Gannucci’s Italian Market (because the name and ownership changed and the place was remodeled)

    * Z’s Deli (because it closed and reopened somewhere else)

    But it seems important to include chains because either 1) a chain might win and that says something, or 2) a chain might lose and that says something. If we left them out, as Barrett noted earlier, it would tarnish the victory of the eventual winner.

    Paul Lundgren | Aug 23, 2013 | New Comment
  44. Maybe some criteria would help, for the next poll… If the Grizzly’s in Canal serves the same chow as the mall, well, we are voting on whether they remodeled Hell’s Kitchen well.

    Anyway. Always fun to fuss. Back to work. | Aug 23, 2013 | New Comment
  45. Holy shit, Occam’s Razor too??? Now I’m going to have to go back to college, or at least go back to Google.

    emmadogs | Aug 23, 2013 | New Comment
  46. Can I say one thing off topic?

    Can we refer to the flood of last year as the “Duluth Deluge”? I like the name and came up with it. It is catchy and I lost a ton of stuff in the flood.

    This has nothing to do with restaurants, but I thought since everyone else was complaining I would add this to the fire.

    Endion | Aug 23, 2013 | New Comment

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