Fans of all things cured and smoked will rejoice in knowing Northern Waters Smokehaus has opened its much-anticipated Woodland Avenue location in the Chester Park – UMD neighborhood. While the new restaurant offers some familiar lunch items from the Smokehaus, the menu is more expansive and includes alcoholic beverages.
Northern Waters Smokehaus has long been a Duluth favorite. The tiny sandwich shop in Canal Park’s DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace was founded in 1998 and specializes in smoked fish and meats. The Smokehaus has won many local accolades, including PDD’s Perfect Lunch Restaurant poll.
It has also been the subject of foodie swooning at a statewide and national level. The Star Tribune called proprietor Eric Goerdt “one of the state’s culinary giants.” The restaurant has been featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” and named one of “10 Great Destination Restaurants” by Men’s Journal.
Goerdt’s new eatery is located in the Mount Royal Shopping Center, close to UMD. Simply called “Northern Waters,” the restaurant serves lunch and dinner, with wine and beer and table service during dinner.
General manager Greg Conley says a soft opening on Friday and Saturday helped work out some hiccups. The restaurant officially opened on Tuesday and the response has been “overwhelmingly positive.” Conley says “fresh and local ingredients are at the forefront” of the menu, which features Lake Superior fish and “most everything made from scratch.”
The dinner menu runs the gamut, from cured salmon ceviche tacos to a charcuterie plate for two. Bar items like wings and smokehaus ribs are also available. Entrees are priced starting at $10 and go up to $22.
Conley says the wine menu has been carefully selected to pair well with the food. The beer menu will change regularly, with the goal of including local craft beer drafts from breweries like Bent Paddle Brewing but also some taps that aren’t available elsewhere in town.
The restaurant has been eagerly awaited since it was announced in May. The location at 1608 Woodland Ave. was previously occupied by Bixby’s Café, which operated there from 1997-2014. The space was completely gutted and renovated with a modern Scandinavian aesthetic. It features a variety of seating, including bar stools, booths and a long communal table intended to engender conversation, modeled after European beer gardens.
Northern Waters employs 35 people and is the first restaurant in Duluth to adopt a no-tipping model.
“I have always tried to pay very competitive wages to my employees, and I have found that as a result I am able to hire and retain the best of the best,” Goerdt said in a news release. “This no-tipping model is really just an extension of that. It’s what’s fair. I don’t want to rely on customers to pay my employees the wage that I think they deserve.”
The restaurant will be open Monday through Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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