OMC Smokehouse is the winner of Perfect Duluth Day’s best new restaurant poll. The popular barbecue joint smoked the competition, garnering 82 percent of the vote among the two finalists. The Boat Club Restaurant and Bar was runner up with 18 percent; 14 other nominees were eliminated in early voting.
OMC (which stands for oink, moo, cluck) opened in February. For more than two years, area residents eagerly anticipated the restaurant’s arrival.
It’s the second restaurant opened by Tom and Jaima Hanson, proprietors of the Duluth Grill — a perennial favorite, which has appeared in Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and won PDD’s Perfect Vegetarian Menu and Perfect Breakfast Menu awards.
The primary similarity between the Duluth Grill and OMC is the care taken to ensure quality. Both restaurants source local and sustainable ingredients when possible. Beyond that, OMC is a distinctly different animal.
Duluth’s Original Coney Island restaurant. Image via Trip Advisor.
After several years of pleasing late-night palates with her pop-up restaurant, chef Nyanyika Banda is opening Martha’s Daughter, a brick and mortar eatery. She hopes to have the Original Coney Island space at 107 E. Superior St. transformed to fit her vision by summer’s end.
It’s time for the 2017 edition of Perfect Duluth Day’s “Perfect New Restaurant” poll. In 2016, Northern Waters Restaurant won by a landslide. Since then, a variety of new eating establishments have emerged. Which one is perfect? That will be determined by the good ol’ democratic process. Now is the chance to give your stomach a voice, whether your tastes are frugal or fancy.
It’s a runoff ballot, so if your favorite drops out of the running you can vote again from the remaining pool of contenders. At this stage in the voting, it’s down to the final two: Boat Club Restaurant and Bar and OMC Smokehouse.
What is the best new restaurant in the Duluth area?
This poll is now closed. The results were:
OMC Smokehouse: 82 percent
Boat Club Restaurant and Bar: 18 percent
It’s been more than a year since Perfect Duluth Day’s most recent “Perfect New Restaurant” poll. Northern Waters Restaurant was the overwhelming victor in 2016, with 67 percent of the vote.
Since then, a fresh crop of contenders has sprouted up to feed hungry Twin Ports residents. What makes a restaurant great? That’s totally subjective and will be determined by popular vote. Whether it’s a greasy spoon or an upscale eatery, each nominee is on equal footing.
We’ve compiled a list of new restaurants below. To qualify, a nominee simply has to serve food, have opened since February 2016 and be located within 10 miles of Duluth. This means eateries in Superior, Hermantown, Proctor or other area townships are eligible but those farther away (Two Harbors, Cloquet, etc.) don’t meet the criteria.
There’s nothing quite like kicking back to quaff a cold beer in the summertime. The warmest season ushers in plenty of chances for those craving craft brews to get outside, sit back and sample suds. We’ve done the legwork for you and compiled a list of some of the top tasting events and beer festivals in the Twin Ports area.
A tavern, off-sale liquor outlet and supper club in Superior Township is under new ownership. John Hartwick purchased the 85-year-old Wabegon bar and grill on April 28 and hit the ground running, only shutting down for half a day to inventory the place. Paul Vernon, who owned the Wabegon for 10 years, held a going away pig roast party the week prior.
The Wabegon is a bit of a geographical oddity. Though it’s located in Wisconsin, roads leading in are through Minnesota, and the vibe of the business is Minnesota through and through. For residents of Duluth’s Fond du Lac neighborhood, it’s the primary gathering place for food and revelry; Superior residents, on the other hand, are barely aware it exists.
The Red Herring Lounge has made a name for itself as a music venue in Duluth and beyond. Since its inception three years ago, the bar has been serving up inventive cocktails along with a respectable list of wines and craft brews. Now it’s adding snacks and small plates to the menu.
Since offering its first class a year ago, Duluth Folk School has been largely nomadic. Appropriately enough, it recently found a home in the burgeoning Lincoln Park Craft District. A teaching kitchen and café are among the many plans for the massive space at 1917 W. Superior St.
Starting in June, Duluthians and tourists will once again be able to get their mini doughnut fix out of a retired fishing vessel in Canal Park.
The fate of Crabby Ol’ Bill’s snack shack remained in question after Steve and Susan Smith announced they would be closing it back in December after five years running the business. Last week, the Duluth City Council approved a lease for developer Brian Forcier of Titanium Partners to operate the seasonal food stand based within the Nels J, an iconic boat that sits adjacent to the boardwalk near the North Pier Lighthouse.
At the end of 2016 there were seven craft breweries in Duluth and nine more across the region. Another six are in the planning or soon-to-open stages in 2017. In the two years since Perfect Duluth Day conducted its first tally of the region’s beer production the total barrel output has grown from roughly 20,000 to nearly 35,000. That equates to more than one million gallons of craft beer locally brewed in 2016. By other measurements, it’s about 70,000 kegs, more than 8 million pints or more than 11 million 12-ounce bottles and cans.
The largest contributors to the recent growth were Bent Paddle Brewing and Castle Danger Brewing. Bent Paddle doubled its output over the past two years while Castle Danger grew six fold. Meanwhile, Moose Lake Brewing launched operations, Blacklist Artisan Ales opened a taproom and started canning, and South Shore Brewery opened an additional brewery and tasting room in Washburn.
In the year ahead, the brewing landscape is set to shift dramatically with the opening of a half-dozen new operations in the region. Newbies in the immediate Twin Ports area will be Hoops Brewing in Canal Park, Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery in Midway Township and Earth Rider in Superior. The Iron Range, home to only one brewing business in 2016 — the Boathouse in Ely — could soon welcome three more. Rapids Brewing Company and Cantankerous Brewing are in the works for Grand Rapids, while Boomtown Brewery plans to open at the former Zimmy’s Bar and Restaurant location in Hibbing.
Below is a breakdown of the 2016 stats.
Bent Paddle Brewing
30-barrel brewery and taproom, founded in 2013
1912 W. Michigan St., Duluth
Colin & Laura Mullen + Bryon & Karen Tonnis, co-founders; Charles Brodell, head brewer; Brent Rowe, regional sales manager; Pepin Young, taproom manager
2016 production: 15,700 barrels
Castle Danger Brewery
30-barrel brewery and taproom; brewery founded in 2011, taproom opened in 2014
17 Seventh St., Two Harbors
Clint and Jamie MacFarlane, owners; Lon and Mandy Larson, owners
2016 production: 9,200 barrels (est. for 2017: 14,000 bbl)
10-barrel brewery supplying six pubs and a retail store, founded in 1995
600 E. Superior St., Duluth
Rod Raymond, owner; Ted Briggs, master brewer
2016 production: 1,862 barrels
The United States now boasts over 5,000 craft breweries as the thirst for quality beer continues. The Twin Ports are clearly part of the trend. Duluth and Superior are home to eight breweries, with two more planning to launch in 2017. Several others dot the north and south shores of Lake Superior. The great news for beer aficionados: there’s no shortage of local beer and opportunities to taste the latest batches. The next three major swillfests are highlighted here.
Duluth Coffee Company is expanding its footprint on the 100 block of East Superior Street with plans for a major upgrade to its roasting operations and more space for events and education.
The coffee roasting business and over-the-counter java shop has occupied 105 E. Superior St. since 2012. Owner Eric Faust recently took over the former BB Makeup location two doors down at 101 E. Superior St. and renovation work there is underway. When the project is completed, Duluth Coffee will move its roasting operations into the new location on the corner of the block while retaining the original coffee-shop space.
Like many young entrepreneurs creating their own opportunities in Duluth, Amanda Belcher hasn’t had a straightforward career trajectory. She started studying exercise physiology at the College of St. Scholastica. Instead of continuing on to graduate school, she decided to become a professional baker.