Perfect Breakfast Restaurant: Duluth Grill

What’s not to like about Duluth Grill? It’s a truck-stop style diner in the friendly West End neighborhood that buys from local farmers and grows some of its vegetables around its parking lot in raised-bed gardens. Owner Tom Hanson and his family have plans to build an urban orchard on the lot as well, with plum trees, black-cap raspberries, lingonberries, choke cherries and other deliciousness. They even get their honey from hives on the roof of the building. Duluth Grill is much more than a simple breakfast joint, but readers of Perfect Duluth Day strongly agreed in a recent poll that it is indeed the best breakfast restaurant in the area.

Is it the Scotch eggs? The breakfast stir fry? The curried polenta skillet? The smoked salmon omelet? The caramel apple French toast? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. It’s all that and more.

The video below, from 2008, highlights Duluth Grill’s sustainable practices.

You’ll note the old video shows an Embers sign on the restaurant. The Hansons bought Duluth Grill twelve years ago and opened it as an Embers franchise. Over the years they worked in their own recipes and eventually pulled out from under the Embers umbrella completely.

Below is a video produced by Ethan Walker in 2011 for Lake Voice News in which Tom Hanson talks about Duluth Grill’s homemade ketchup.

In 2010, Duluth Grill was featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives program, with host Guy Fieri sampling the grass-fed bison pot roast and banana creme pie. (For some reason that segment does not seem to exist on the Internet.)

Honorable mentions for best breakfast restaurant go to Pizza Lucé, Uncle Loui’s Café and At Sara’s Table / Chester Creek Café, all three of which polled above 15 percent.


Above: Tom Hanson accepts the mighty Perfect Breakfast Restaurant plaque.

PDD Awards Index



about 11 years ago

I know the Reader does their annual "Best of" voting, but this was great.  I say, do more 2013 Perfect Awards.  If nothing else, it'll be interesting to see if there are differences between the two lists.


about 11 years ago

I think you may have opened a can-o-worms with this first award.  Somehow, I get the feeling we'll be voting for things on a regular basis from here on out.


about 11 years ago

Mr. Emmadogs and I are traveling back from Taos, and we found voting lists like this to be really helpful to finding restaurants, hotels, vets, etc in Taos.  TripAdvisor is good, but windows with 'Best Of' awards displayed are more helpful.

I remember the Ripsaw used to do these awards. PDD should continue this.  Accessible lists like this are very helpful to tourists and locals.

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago

Yes, yes, the award icon is a dead giveaway that there will be more polls and awards like this one. But we can't get fanatical about it yet. It's too nice outside.


about 11 years ago

And the service is incredible. That place can be packed and your food still gets to you really fast.


about 11 years ago

I find that most restaurants only staff to minimum levels, whereas Duluth Grill has more than enough people working to provide great service and maintain the sanity of the staff.

It really shows that the management values service and servers, instead of making maximum profit.


about 11 years ago

I really like the place, but can it really be the best if you can't get a bloody mary or a beer with your breakfast?

Dave P

about 11 years ago

Kudos to the Duluth Grill. I heartily agree with this poll, but since the topic of their homemade ketchup is broached in the interview clip, I do have one beef:  While lovely and unique, the taste and texture of the DG's homemade ketchup is just a tad too far removed from conventional ketchup for some traditional applications (in my opinion). Sometimes I just want the old familiar on my fries. The lack of the option of conventional ketchup has made me cross this place off my list when my yen for a burger shifts into overdrive. Ditto hashbrowns, etc. A small complaint, perhaps, particularly in light of the DG's delicious everything, but it's one I've heard expressed from other people as well. Is it asking too much to have a bottle of Heinz stashed under the counter for the odd culinary Philistine like myself? I've been told by wait staff at the DG that it is. Sigh.


about 11 years ago

Dave - bring your own ketchup. I might just try that myself.

[email protected]

about 11 years ago

I think that they need a low-sodium formulation of the ketchup and a traditional formulation, because I find it more palatable in taste if I just dump salt on it.  (Texture, I can stand the variance...)

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