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Perfect Lunch Restaurant: Northern Waters Smokehaus

When it comes to lunch in Duluth, the sandwich is king. Not one pizza place, burger joint or Asian restaurant managed to crack the top four in Perfect Duluth Day’s poll to determine the best lunch restaurants. Furthermore, the place with the best sandwiches in town, Northern Waters Smokehaus, smoked the competition. A solid majority of 55.4 percent of voters agreed Northern Waters is the best mid-day meal around.

Clearly the deliciousness is no secret — there’s almost always a noon-hour line at Northern Waters.



It turns out, Duluth’s best lunch restaurant isn’t really a restaurant per se, but rather a specialty fish-and-meat market with a couple of stools and a counter that accommodates about a half-dozen people. Outside there’s a deck with a few tables; everyone else either heads for the beach or a park bench, or devours the goods at their office or right in their cars without complaint.

The variety of sandwich options available, from Cajun Fish to Sitka Sushi to the “Silence of the Lambwich” make it easy to go back again and again to try out the latest concoction.


Eric Goerdt with the perfect lunch plaque

Eric and Lynn Goerdt started Northern Waters in 1998, supplying smoked fish to restaurants and caterers from a commercial kitchen in the Superior Business Center. They opened their retail location in the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace in 2001 and won a Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Award a year later. In 2004 the production end of the business moved to DeWitt-Seitz and the eat-in counter was added.

(Northern Waters was featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives in 2010, but that clip sadly does not seem to exist on the Internet.)

Honorable mention goes to another popular sandwich spot, the deli at How Sweet it is Cakes, which came in second place with 21.5 percent of the vote.

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13 Comment(s)

  1. Nice! As a bonus you can go grab a cookie from Amazing Grace while you’re there. The only drawback is that I have to say the bathrooms at DeWitt-Seitz are often curiously gross.

    piker | Oct 18, 2013 | New Comment
  2. Pastrami Mommy!

    Bret | Oct 18, 2013 | New Comment
  3. Re: DeWitt-Seitz bathrooms. Way too small for the amount of traffic, and poorly ventilated. Fortunately, there are more, roomier bathrooms away from the heavy traffic. I will not announce on this forum where they are, lest they lose their shiny, fresh, empty goodness.

    vicarious | Oct 18, 2013 | New Comment
  4. Oh, my… Say no more…

    piker | Oct 18, 2013 | New Comment
  5. Right on the heels of Mr emmadogs asking whether I get the PDD award for ‘best nomination’ comes this taunt from vicarious. Vicarious, you cannot bring this up, and then laugh evilly in the distance with glee while we curse ourselves for not knowing where the good restroom is, and you for taunting us with your secrets.

    Since I nominated Northern Waters first, I now demand my prize: access to this secret so big that it will change my life as I now know it.

    emmadogs | Oct 19, 2013 | New Comment
  6. P.s. Also I want a lifetime supply of Buffalo 06 sandwiches, with pickle.

    emmadogs | Oct 19, 2013 | New Comment
  7. Sitka Sushi. Best sandwich in town.

    Claire | Oct 19, 2013 | New Comment
  8. I am glad they won. What wonderful sandwiches they create. The thick cuts of smoked salmon are superb.

    Sitka Sushi is pretty darn unique & delicious.

    toyota200x | Oct 21, 2013 | New Comment
  9. Hint: up.

    vicarious | Oct 21, 2013 | New Comment
  10. Up. Up. Hmmmmm.

    emmadogs | Oct 22, 2013 | New Comment
  11. Hint #2: stairs.

    vicarious | Oct 22, 2013 | New Comment
  12. Well, after work today, I was going to go skulk around the 2nd floor and above of D-S building, but I see that this is clearly not going to happen just yet.

    So…vicarious, thank you for the hints. I will go skulk this weekend, and I anticipate finding a bathroom with an attached sauna, attendants with heated hand towels, French bar soaps, etc. Obviously, by the time I get there, everyone else in town who reads this will be lining up, thus cursing this plan from the very outset.

    Anyway--thanks for the secret tip!!!

    emmadogs | Oct 23, 2013 | New Comment
  13. The upstairs bathroom attendants also offer foot rubs and career counseling.

    vicarious | Oct 23, 2013 | New Comment

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