Minnesota’s North Shore: Where smoked fish is a way of life
Smoked fish is to Minnesota’s North Shore what lobster is to down east Maine, said Hannah Agran in Midwest Living. Art galleries and craft breweries are popping up from Duluth to Grand Marais, but the region’s culinary lifeline “has hardly changed in a century.” Every morning, a small band of commercial fishermen still scatter out across Lake Superior, pull up nets with calloused hands, then deliver their catch to roadside smokehouses and canny chefs—the kind who know that fresh lake trout “needs little more than fry batter or a squeeze of lemon.” Here are a few spots you shouldn’t miss.
Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse At this small-town institution, “locals in camo line up with tourists in Keens” as “staff wrap bronzed chunks of fish in yesterday’s Duluth News Tribune.” The family founder learned to smoke fish from local Native Americans; his heirs have added another tradition: serving individually wrapped Ritz cracker rolls with a salmon–cream cheese spread. 149 Scenic Drive, Knife River, (218) 834-5995
Northern Waters Restaurant Chef Eric Goert “marries classic with modern” at his Duluth restaurant that adjoins a deli counter of the same name. Goert serves his tender sockeye salmon burger on a brioche bun with frisée and sesame seeds, while his house salad piles smoked salmon on mixed greens tossed with almonds, pickled ginger, and wasabi mayonnaise. 394 Lake Ave. S., Suite 106, Duluth, (218) 724-7307
Angry Trout Café Barb LaVigne and George Wilkes’ cozy Grand Marais joint makes customers feel like they’ve just dropped in for dinner with friends. All the seafood “tastes like Lake Superior,” and “the buttery, dill-flecked chowder is a perennial favorite.” 416W. Highway 61, Grand Marais, (218) 387-1265