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What is the best restaurant in the Duluth area? We’re working our way up to a poll.

Next in PDD’s series of restaurant awards is probably the one we should have started with — the grand champion: the best restaurant of them all. We’ll begin this process by taking nominations in the comments to this post.

The criteria is somewhat up to you. In our previous polls there were a limited number of restaurants that could be considered “new” or “breakfast” restaurants, but virtually any restaurant in the territory is eligible to be considered “best.” And whatever makes it “best” is certainly subjective.

We expect people will lean toward fancier operations and consider money no object on this one, but if you truly feel the best restaurant in town is a cheap pancake house or burger joint, we’ll respect that. However, if you nominate a fast-food chain we’ll tell you right now it won’t be on the ballot. So here it is right up front we so can all get a good laugh: “I nominate the West Duluth KFC.” Oh, ha ha ha. Very funny.

Also, we know some of you snobs are dying to rant about how Duluth doesn’t really have any good restaurants because your advanced taste buds can barely survive outside of New York or Marrakech. Shut up.

And, of course, we must define our territory: Any restaurant in Duluth or 10 miles of its border is eligible. So establishments in Superior, Hermantown, Proctor and the various bordering townships all qualify; Two Harbors and Cloquet are out of bounds.

With all that out of the way, let’s begin. Once the nomination list reaches a satisfactory conclusion, a poll will be posted.

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29 Comment(s)

  1. Best dine in restaurant is Lake Avenue Cafe. You can spend a lot or a little (relatively), food is fantastic, lovely interior.

    Best to go restaurant is Northern Waters Smokehaus. Best sandwiches in the history of the world.

    Best decor, hands down, is Zeitgeist Arts Cafe.

    Best neighborhood joint is Chester Creek Cafe.

    So that’s my 2 €ents.

    emmadogs | Sep 18, 2013 | New Comment
  2. Criteria is very vague so I will post what I feel is the “Best” in the sense of taste --
    New Scenic.

    In the area of “ambiance” -- Lake Ave
    In the area of “feel good” -- Duluth Grill
    In the area of “most likely to revisit again and again” -- Amazing Grace

    heysme | Sep 18, 2013 | New Comment
  3. Hands down it has to be The Pickwick! I know people who travel to Duluth just to get a pepper-cheese burger and onion rings.

    SuperX | Sep 18, 2013 | New Comment
  4. Scenic

    rappdaddy | Sep 18, 2013 | New Comment
  5. I’ll throw out my nominations without reference to my criteria:
    Amazing Grace Bakery and Cafe
    Chester Creek Cafe
    Duluth Grill
    Lake Avenue Cafe
    New Scenic Cafe
    Va Bene
    Zeitgeist Arts Cafe

    Lawrence Lee | Sep 18, 2013 | New Comment
  6. Sheesh! Rappdaddy hit everyone of the restauants I would include. Except Pak’s Green Corner.

    jakester | Sep 18, 2013 | New Comment
  7. Zeitgeist and Scenic for creative food. Chester Creek for sunny morning ambiance. The Brewhouse for service, comfort, Duluth uniqueness, veggie burgers. Big Daddy for fries. Duluth Grill for gardens.

    Maybe a criterion could be: “Where do you take friends from out of town?”

    bluenewt | Sep 18, 2013 | New Comment
  8. JJ Astor’s (ask for the spiced pecans)

    New Scenic Cafe

    Sunshine Cafe

    Duluth Grill

    Va Bene

    tamara | Sep 18, 2013 | New Comment
  9. Best sit-down: Lake Avenue
    Best wine: Zeitgeist
    Best beer: 7 West Taphouse
    Best cocktails: Lake Avenue
    Best diner: Duluth Grill
    Best pub food: Dubh Linn
    Best Italian: Va Bene
    Best Asian: Pak’s Green Corner
    Best Mexican: Guadalajara
    Best sandwiches: Northern Waters
    Best place to get drunk cheap: Mexico Lindo
    Did I miss anything?

    Patrick Colvin | Sep 18, 2013 | New Comment
  10. I would have included New Scenic Cafe, but I thought it was too far out of town to include.

    Ditto to Brewhouse for best burgers, and also for best fries and beer. Yummy!

    Best wine: my kitchen on any given evening.

    Va Bene has a great view, but I think their food isn’t so great. And I think there is no good Mexican/southwestern.

    emmadogs | Sep 18, 2013 | New Comment
  11. WHERE TO BEGIN? It really depends on what kind of mood I am in, and who I am with …
    My top three favorites:
    New Scenic Cafe for world-class cuisine I can’t even begin to replicate at home.
    Lake Ave for the ambiance and for sentimental reasons: first place Mr. Claire and I dined at when we moved here almost 20 years ago.
    Chester Creek Cafe because the food is delicious and it’s like Cheers for me, I was actually one of their very first customers when they first opened.

    Claire | Sep 18, 2013 | New Comment
  12. New Scenic Cafe has the best unusual and reasonably-priced wine and beer list and a menu that changes with the seasons; most everything delicious. The prices aren’t as high as those in Canal Park and some lesser, more popular “fancy” restaurants. It is hands-down my favorite restaurant in Duluth and my go-to place to bring out-of-town guests.

    Also good are Chester Creek Cafe, Lake Avenue Cafe and Restaurant 301.

    Jana Hollingsworth | Sep 18, 2013 | New Comment
  13. I knew I liked you for good reason, Jana. Forgot about 301. I love their cuisine, too.

    Claire | Sep 19, 2013 | New Comment
  14. I am not going to say my favorites but, add to the list of places I would like to see on the initial list that haven’t been mentioned so far. Anchor Bar, Thirsty Pagan, Azteca’s, T-bonz, and Harmony Club’s Palace Diner. I’m sure there will be more later as my taste buds wake up for the day.

    gluvin | Sep 19, 2013 | New Comment
  15. Lake Avenue Cafe for food and Brewhouse/Rathskeller for beer.

    Swan | Sep 19, 2013 | New Comment
  16. On a night “out”, which rarely happens anymore, here are the names being thrown out.

    Scenic Cafe
    Lake Avenue Cafe
    The Pick
    Bellisio’s (Oh, I can hear the booing)

    With the kids in tow (no particular order):
    Duluth Grill
    Northern Waters (Even without kids, but no booze)
    Thirsty Pagan
    Breeze Inn
    Clyde Iron

    runningman | Sep 19, 2013 | New Comment
  17. Crap, I forgot The Brewhouse.

    runningman | Sep 19, 2013 | New Comment
  18. No mention of Pizza Luce yet so I have to throw that in with the bunch. I always bring my family and friends there when they are visiting. Whether it be for pizza in the evening or a hangover-curing brunch. Lake Ave, Brewhouse, and Scenic are major staples of the Duluth restaurant scene too and always come through for me.

    hansel | Sep 19, 2013 | New Comment
  19. Hansel, you’re right about Luce’s brunch. The pesto Benedict and Bloody Mary bar are great.

    emmadogs | Sep 19, 2013 | New Comment
  20. Azteca -- Most authentic mexican food in town & cheap.

    Thirsty Pagan -- Best pizza in the Ports & great beer.

    Brewhouse -- Best french fries and craft beer.

    Anchor -- Best burger

    Duluth Grill -- Best organic, but worst ketchup

    Osaka -- Best flames and Japanese food

    Lil’ Angie’s -- Best Fajitas, but overpriced now

    Sala Thai -- Best Thai food in town!

    Sammy’s -- Best broasted chicken

    Beaner’s -- Best sandwiches

    New Scenic -- When you have money to burn

    Chester Creek -- Best place to sniff your own farts while petting your dog on the deck.

    Pizza Luce’ -- Great bloody bar, but too small of not in same league as Uncle Lou’s for breakfast food.

    Burrito Union -- Just tortures you that there is no Chipotle in Duluth.

    Mexico Lindo -- Best view, but not best Mexican

    Midi -- Great burger and great view

    Blackwoods -- Great meatloaf dinner & decent happy hour

    Texas Roadhouse -- When you are extremely hungry

    Endion | Sep 20, 2013 | New Comment
  21. At this point we’ve got a lengthy list of nominees, so the polling process has begun.

    Paul Lundgren | Sep 20, 2013 | New Comment

    piker | Sep 21, 2013 | New Comment
  23. Brewhouse and Co. product blows. Most highly overrated next to Anchor? Fitgers and Co. Burritos legendarily bad. Cod doughnuts require a nutcracker. Take your meatloaf and your seven dollar beer and give it to my dog Rod. I can buy a twelve pack of Torpedo for the price of one of your beers and call it a night.

    Yes, yes, Lake Ave and Scenic are fine and have been for over a decade. Now that we’ve all agreed on that over and over, can we move onto best dive bar so I can go find some pickled herring?

    Herzog | Sep 21, 2013 | New Comment
  24. Nokomis was No. 1 (RIP)

    But, these are close!

    Restaurant 301

    Lake Avenue Cafe

    JJ Astor

    New Scenic Cafe

    Bret | Sep 21, 2013 | New Comment
  25. Oh, and Zeitgeist Arts Cafe!

    Bret | Sep 21, 2013 | New Comment
  26. The top four stink. I guess fart-sniffing-over-40-former-hipsters rule this site.

    Remember having a PBR back when it wasn’t cool to have a PBR?

    Endion | Sep 28, 2013 | New Comment
  27. I would like to see a poll based on best labor practices, too. | Sep 28, 2013 | New Comment
  28. Endion, if they stink, why did you nominate two of them?

    Barrett Chase | Sep 29, 2013 | New Comment
  29. I nominated a different one, up above I wouldn’t qualify what I said as an endorsement of any of the top four restaurants.

    Thirsty Pagan should have been in the top 4. I’m just sayin’…

    Endion | Sep 29, 2013 | New Comment

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