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Breakfast in Duluth: Big Daddy’s Burgers

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By popular demand, we chose Big Daddy’s Burgers as the next location in our “Breakfast in Duluth” series. Because it’s located next to Arthur’s Formal Wear in the Piedmont Plaza, we considered renting tuxedos so we’d look good while scarfing down our omelets, but unfortunately that wasn’t in the budget, so we kept our regular clothes on and, as usual, looked like a couple of fools.

Why did Big Daddy’s not meet the qualifications of our initial post on breakfast diners? It does not have booth seating, which is part of the very definition of the word “diner.” Though it’s not technically a diner, it does have a good diner vibe. There is counter seating available and 100 percent of the customers were old men when we walked in the door.

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Note that behind the counter, above the Pepsi cooler, is a complete collection of faded Minnesota Twins Wheaties boxes. This stuck out to us because, although these items are the most common collectibles in Minnesota, we generally only see one displayed at any given establishment, rec room or estate sale.

Our theory is that most people who kept a box from 1987 realized by 1991 that it was kind of a cheesy keepsake, so they didn’t want another one. But they couldn’t just throw away the one they held onto for four years, and they couldn’t sell it because it was, as previously stated, the most common collectible in Minnesota, and therefore generally considered to be worth about eight bucks. So the only thing to do with a Twins Wheaties box is hold onto it for your entire life and make your grandchildren recycle it. But we digress.

As appetizing as the 25-year-old Wheaties looked, we decided against ordering cereal. How could we sit at a place called “Big Daddy’s” and order anything that has less than triple the recommended daily caloric allowance? Especially while sitting near a wall of photographs featuring people proudly celebrating the achievement of eating like wild boars.

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The breakfast prices at Big Daddy’s are somewhat high, but considering the portion size it probably evens out if compared to other establishments by plate weight. A typical cheese omelet in Duluth runs $5; Big Daddy’s sells them for $6.99, but you can’t eat more than $5 worth without needing help up from your chair like James Brown. Coffee is typically $1.15; Big Daddy’s sells it for $1.25 but leaves a pot at your table to stimulate your feeding synapses and to thin the cholesterol-laden blood, which is now slowly oozing through your veins.

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Don’t take our wisecracking to mean we don’t like Big Daddy’s Burgers. On the contrary, you little conclusion jumpers, we love it. Old men and good breakfast food — what’s not to love?

(We also love Big Daddy’s Muffler in West Duluth, but that’s another story.)

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One might assume a place with a name like Big Daddy’s Burgers and a gimmick like the Belly Buster must be a chain — and indeed there are numerous restaurants of the same name across the country — but this one is independently owned by Duluth’s Dave Gonhue and has been in business for 10 years.

Could a chain restaurant owner flaunt his faith like Gonhue does? Of course not. Bible-themed artwork adorns the wall opposite the counter, a constant reminder that if you eat here regularly you’ll be seeing Jesus soon.

12 Comments

TimK

about 8 years ago

Jesus is rolling over in his grave.

Bruce

about 8 years ago

I don't live right in Duluth, but I've been to Big Daddy's and the food is (1) excellent and (2) the prices are more than reasonable.

It's definitely, what I would call a "Burger Joint."

samh

about 8 years ago

My picture is proudly displayed on that Belly Buster Wall of Fame ca. 2008.

j

about 8 years ago

I LOOVE their breakfast!  My office is very close to there and I am tempted VERY often to go get their country fried steak--out of this world.

Ramos

about 8 years ago

Flout: 1. To treat contemptuously; jeer at. 2. To scoff; sneer.

Nodnetni

about 8 years ago

As someone that has never been there, What is the Belly Buster and how does one get on to the Wall of Fame?

tw

about 8 years ago

Big Daddy's is da best.

Barrett Chase

about 8 years ago

Thanks for the vocab lesson, Ramos. "Flout" has now been changed to "flaunt."

Barrett Chase

about 8 years ago

Nodnetni: The Belly Buster is a huge burger made from two half-pound patties. I believe you get on the wall by simply finishing it, but I can't say for sure. Since samh actually is on the wall, maybe he can give you some pointers.

Karasu

about 8 years ago

Big Daddy's Muffler is awesome. Anyone driving around dragging their exhaust line doesn't know about this place.

Penny Sue

about 7 years ago

Our family went to Duluth for a vacation not long ago. One night we searched online for great places to eat in the area and Big Daddy's came up with rave reviews. What an outstanding dinner!

When we first pulled up I was a little skeptical ... typical "hole in the wall." Normally we don't judge too harshly on appearance but we had ate at Guadalajara's in Superior the night before and it was terrible on top of looking like a dump. Just a heads up ... don't go there!

Anyway, I had a bacon burger (I can't have cheese), wife had the cream-cheese burger, and kids had cheeseburgers. We all loved the food! Even without cheese mine was excellent. Had a big batch of fries and they were great too. Other things that stood out to me was the honey mustard and pickles. Honey mustard is very hit or miss but this was great; not too "mustardy." Pickles were very fresh tasting, crisp, salty, and sweet.

Service was great too! We were like their last customers for the night which can sometimes mean you get what's left and the service is rushed. They were nothing like this. Waitress was all smiles, very attentive, and prompt. Chef was happy and made everything fresh. Nobody was waiting for us to leave so they can close.

What a great place to eat. You have to stop by if you are in the area!

in.dog.neato

about 7 years ago

Heh ... if you think the Guad is a dump, stay away from the Anchor!

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