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Polls Posts

Perfect Bakery: Duluth’s Best Bread

pddperfectbakeryawardlogoThe business with the audacity to call itself Duluth’s Best Bread clearly is living up to its name. Not only does it have the best bread, it’s Duluth’s best general bakery according to Perfect Duluth Day’s poll. It took the title of Perfect Bakery with 38 percent of the vote among the final four.

The relative newcomer celebrated its one-year anniversary in September. Brothers Michael and Robert Lillegard, a trained mathematician and a writer, respectively, founded the nontraditional bakery.

Duluth’s Best Bread has limited storefront hours and a subscription service. It features a small menu of products carefully perfected by Michael, such as sourdough bread, croissants, cinnamon rolls and pretzels.

Poll: Best Bakery in the Duluth Area

get-bakedWith your help, we’ve compiled a list of swoon-worthy bakeries in the Duluth area.

It’s a highly subjective exercise. It may be that a fruit tart warms your heart or a cake donut pleases your gut. Whatever the case, it’s time to make a show of support for your favorite purveyor of sweet and glutenous treats.

The nominations are in. Now it’s time to vote and have a say. What’s the Perfect Duluth-area bakery?

This is a runoff poll, which means options will be whittled down over time. We started with 14 nominees; it’s now down to the Final Four: Duluth’s Best Bread, Johnson’s Bakery, Lake Superior Bakehouse and Zenith Bread Project.

This poll is now closed. The results were:

Duluth’s Best Bread – 38 percent
Zenith Bread Project – 27 percent
Johnson’s Bakery – 20 percent
Lake Superior Bakehouse – 15 percent

What is the best Duluth-area bakery?

baked-goodsThe decline of the corner bakery in modern America could be considered one of the greatest food-related tragedies of our time. An 85 percent decrease in standalone retail bakeries occurred in the United States over the past 40 years, according to Retail Bakers of America.

With this in mind, it seems important to show our local bakeries some love. That’s why our latest poll will decide the perfect Duluth bakery.

Nominate your favorite by commenting on this post. It will be a purely subjective poll, of course. Comparing an old-school institution stocked with traditional sweets like Long Johns and Bismarcks and a newfangled shop specializing in artisan breads and delicate pastries is a bit like comparing apples to oranges, but the idea is to choose an overall favorite.

Feel free to nominate bakeries that double as coffee shops and serve food or the supermarket variety, if you’re so inclined.

After much geographical consideration, we’ve determined any bakery within 16 miles of the Aerial Lift Bridge is eligible for nomination. That means establishments in Superior, Hermantown, Proctor and the many bordering townships qualify for nomination, but more distant places like Two Harbors and Cloquet do not.

Once we have a good pool of nominees, the poll will commence.

Poll: Best Drinking Establishment in the Duluth Area

best barAs we enjoy the last dregs of summer in all its boozy glory, we’re on a mission to determine Duluth’s “Perfect Drinking Establishment.” Last week we asked for nominations. The primary criteria (besides offering libations) was location. Bars had to be located within 10 miles of Duluth.

With your input, we compiled 23 nominees that run the gamut from dingy dive bars to sophisticated cocktail rooms. Now it’s time to vote for your favorite. This is a runoff poll. If the bar you initially voted for is eliminated, you can vote again among the remaining options. We’ll post the results in a few days.

At this time we are down to the Top Four: Bent Tap at Bent Paddle Brewing, Breeze Inn, Red Herring Lounge and Sir Benedict’s Tavern on the Lake.

This poll is now closed. The results were:

Sir Benedict’s Tavern on the Lake – 34.5 percent
Breeze Inn – 31 percent
Red Herring Lounge – 18.5 percent
Bent Tap at Bent Paddle Brewing – 16 percent

What is the perfect Duluth-area drinking establishment?

Danger - AlcoholThe time is almost upon us for a poll about something most Duluthians are practiced in: drinking.

We know Duluthians like to drink. In fact, St. Louis County rates among the top counties in the country for binge drinking, with a rate of 26.7 percent (though surely some Iron Rangers are skewing the percentage).

Though it’s not a statistic to be proud of, we certainly understand the inclination. And we’d like to pinpoint where the people prefer to imbibe. The poll isn’t scientific. How you choose the “perfect” drinking establishment is purely subjective. You can nominate a craft brewery, a swanky joint with handcrafted cocktails or a crusty dive bar with the cheapest swill and shots of whiskey. It’s up to you. Name your favorite bar, pub, saloon, nightclub, watering hole or whatever you call it in the comments to this post.

Once we compile an ample list of nominees, we’ll post the poll and the people will decide. It will be a runoff vote where the list of options will be whittled down during the voting process as favorites become apparent.

Any drinking establishment in Duluth or 10 miles of its border is eligible for nomination. Bars in Superior, Hermantown, Proctor and the many bordering townships qualify for nomination, but more distant places like Two Harbors and Cloquet do not.

Perfect North Shore Restaurant: Gunflint Tavern

PDD-North-Shore-Restaurant-AwardLogoOne conclusion can be easily drawn from the results of Perfect Duluth Day’s poll to name the best restaurant on Lake Superior’s North Shore: Grand Marais is the place to be. The top three restaurants are located there, including the perfect one, Gunflint Tavern.

Owner Jeff Gecas says it hasn’t always been easy. He and his wife Susan are “Deadheads” who decided to create the business “almost selfishly” in 1998 because there wasn’t anywhere to watch live music and drink microbrews on draft in Grand Marais. “We never had Bud or Miller Lite. We didn’t allow smoking. People said ‘They’ll never make it,'” Gecas remembers. “We’re now in our 19th year.”

Upending convention, the Tavern now offers music 260 nights a year and brews its own beer. With its eclectic menu, craft beer and live music several nights of the week, it has become a North Shore institution and a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

In an outpost like Grand Marais, one might be surprised to find bangers and mash, chicken mole and an Asian noodle bowl under the same roof. Casual fare like burgers and pizzas are available at the Gunflint Tavern too, as are finer dining options such as walleye, steak and mushroom ravioli.

Poll: Best Restaurant on the North Shore

north shore fork spoonLast week we compiled a list of nominees for the best restaurant on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The specific territory: Knife River to Grand Portage — basically anything in Lake or Cook counties was eligible for nomination.

Obviously several Duluth-area restaurants are technically “on the North Shore” — in particular the winner of PDD’s Perfect Restaurant Poll: New Scenic Café. For this poll we’re looking at places that are, at the very least, a serious bike ride from the Zenith City.

What’s the Perfect North Shore Restaurant? Vote now and have a say. Keep in mind that this is a runoff poll, so as time goes by the number of options will reduce. If the restaurant you initially voted for is eliminated, you may vote again among the remaining options.

We started with 27 nominees, then whittled it down to the Final Four: Angry Trout Café, the Crooked Spoon, Gunflint Tavern and Vanilla Bean.

This poll is now closed. The results were:

Gunflint Tavern – 35 percent
Angry Trout – 26 percent
Crooked Spoon – 22 percent
Vanilla Bean – 17 percent

Nominees for Perfect North Shore Restaurant Poll

north shore fork spoonWarm weather and wanderlust have Duluthians dreaming of a North Shore vacation. In this spirit, we’ve decided to conduct a poll to determine the best place to eat up the shore.

Before voting, we have to establish a list of nominees. What are the criteria for determining a North Shore Restaurant? After some debate, we’ve decided to include eateries on the shore located in Lake and Cook counties, from Knife River in the south to Grand Portage in the north.

While it might seem counterintuitive to some, this means the New Scenic Café is not included in the poll, since it is located in Duluth Township. It’s abundantly clear the Scenic is a favored restaurant; the café won PDD’s Perfect Restaurant Poll and has drawn accolades from foodies farther afield. For the purposes of this poll, we’re looking for restaurants that require a little more of an excursion from Duluth.

What’s the perfect North Shore restaurant (besides the New Scenic Café)? You tell us. We’ll round up the nominees and produce a poll in the coming days.

Perfect New Restaurant: Northern Waters Restaurant

PDDPerfectNewRestaurant2016It’s no surprise Northern Waters Restaurant crushed Perfect Duluth Day’s best new restaurant poll. The eagerly anticipated eatery just opened in February, but has swiftly won the admiration and bellies of Twin Ports residents, as evidenced by garnering 67 percent of the vote.

Manager Greg Conley with staff at Northern Waters

Manager Greg Conley with staff at Northern Waters

Poll: Best New Restaurant in Duluth Area

What local restaurant will be the Spirit Room’s successor as Best New Restaurant? You tell us. Last week we compiled a list of nominees. Vote now for your favorite new eatery. We’ll post results later this week.

As usual, it’s a runoff ballot, so the list of options will shrink as favorites emerge. If the restaurant you vote for gets dropped from the ballot, you can vote again, so check back later. We started with 16 restaurants in the poll; it’s now down to the top four: Beijing Restaurant, Lake Superior Bakehouse, Northern Waters Restaurant
and Sala Thai.
 

What is the best new restaurant in the Duluth area?

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This poll is now closed. The results will be published later today.

Nominees for Best New Restaurant Poll – 2016

It’s been a year and a half since Perfect Duluth Day last ran a “best new restaurant” poll. The reigning champion, the Spirit Room, is on its way to becoming a seasoned area eatery, as is the runner up, Tavern on the Hill. What’s new in Duluth-area food since then? Reopenings, additional locations and restaurant moves seem to be a trend.

Before we vote, we have to establish a list of nominees. To qualify, an establishment must: have recently opened, serve food and be located within 10 miles of Duluth (including Superior, Hermantown, Proctor or other area townships). Two Harbors and Cloquet, for example, are too far afield to be contenders in this poll.

Here’s a rundown of the recently opened restaurants we compiled. Is there one we missed? We trust you’ll let us know in the comments before we launch our poll next week.

  • Beijing Restaurant (April 2016)
  • Charley’s Grilled Subs inside Central Avenue Minit Mart (April 2016)
  • Dickey’s Barbecue Pit (Oct. 2014)
  • Grand World Coffee (Jan. 2016)
  • Izzy’s BBQ Lounge & Grill (Aug. 2014)
  • Jimmy John’s at Miller Hill Mall (Dec. 2015)
  • KBQ Ribs food truck (Aug. 2015)
  • The King of Creams (March 2015)
  • Lake Superior Bakehouse (June 2015)
  • Lark o’ the Lake (Nov. 2015)
  • Northern Waters Restaurant (Feb. 2016)
  • El Oasis del Norte Mexican food truck (July 2015)
  • Sala Thai (April 2015)
  • Toasty’s Grilled Cheese Shop – Downtown (Dec. 2015)
  • Vintage Kitchen (Feb. 2015)
  • VN Coffee House (June 2015)

Who won Homegrown 2016?

Happy Homegrown Meth BongThe final applause of the 2016 Homegrown Music Festival is now in the history books. Which band “won” the festival? Each year PDD polls its readership and asks that very question. Because art is useless if it isn’t vain and competitive, right?

How does one “win” a music festival? Is it about musicianship? Is it about showmanship and antics? Is it about pretty hairstyles and flamboyant fashions? Yes.

The poll is now closed. Here are the results:

Medical Underground – 16.8 percent
Red Mountain – 12.3 percent
The Social Disaster – 11.2 percent
Bratwurst – 10 percent
A Band Called Truman – 7.8 percent
Various other bands – 41.9 percent

Map of the Day: Duluth’s Canal Parking

Canal Park Map

After a ridiculously warm weekend, it seems like spring has arrived early. Before you know it, thousands of Minneapolis-types like myself will be driving up Interstate 35 to the cool shores of Gitche Gumee.

Since its post-industrial low point a few decades ago, Duluth has built Canal Park into one of the top-drawing tourist spots in the state. It’s definitely a great place, but I continue to be amazed by how much prime Canal Park real estate is occupied by pavement for storing cars. After a visit last fall, I made this map and found there are 21 acres of surface parking in Canal Park.

Perfect Indoor Concert Venue: Red Herring Lounge

PDDPerfectIndoorConcertVenueLogoWhen it comes to picking the best indoor concert venue, there are a lot of things to consider — seating, acoustics, general vibe, etc. There might be plenty of room for argument on just about any criteria, but in one facet Duluth has a clear winner. It would be tough to dispute that any local concert hall, club or coffee house has consistently brought more high-caliber talent to its stage in the past two years than the Red Herring Lounge. Among the top four in PDD’s poll, the Herring pulled out a clean win with 35 percent of the vote.

Poll: What is the Duluth area’s best indoor concert venue?

Last summer a PDD poll determined Bayfront Festival Park is the region’s best outdoor concert venue. Now, in the dead of winter, it’s time to determine the best indoor concert venue. From large arenas to tiny little barrooms and coffee joints — what is the best place for live music in the Twin Ports?

This poll is now closed. The results were:

Red Herring Lounge – 35 percent
Sacred Heart Music Center – 26 percent
Clyde Iron Works – 21 percent
R.T. Quinlan’s – 18 percent