Back to college: 8 Twin Ports eateries for whatever you’re craving
So, you want quality vegan fare, global flavors or a solid ’za? We got you.
Hungry? The Northland’s got you covered.
Here’s a glimpse of the many, many offerings for different taste buds and budgets.
If you want a high-end sandwich
Corktown Deli & Brews
1906 W. Superior St.
Along with house-smoked pastrami and turkey, Corktown Deli & Brews offers porchetta (pork roast), smoked brisket, chili and bacon blue cheese potato salad. It’s a deli-plus here, with well-done meats, salads, smoothies and beers. Also: some low-carb bowls featuring cauliflower rice.
I recently revisited their turko pestey with smoked turkey, feta, roasted red peppers, greens and a thick layer of pesto.
It was most scrumptious in the middle, where I was able to get the perfect bite of feta, meat, veg and the thick, delicious pesto. This one could go with two layers of the latter, imo.
Prices: $11.99-$13.99 for most sammies
If you’re in for a side of soul (food)
Doc. Witherspoon’s Soul Food Shack
319 W. First St.
This downtown Duluth spot offers a mix of history, Southern flavors and family.
Stephan Witherspoon carries the legacy of his father, the late Rev. Sylvester Witherspoon, who ran the original Soul Food Kitchen in West Duluth in the 1970s.
If you're in the market for fried chicken, southern mac and cheese, and fried catfish , hit them up.
During my earliest visit, I opted for the catfish meal over fried chicken or hot links. It came with two good-sized fillets, lightly breaded with a kick and smelling divine.
I’ve since been back many times.
Expect large food portions, cornbread donuts (what?) and savory and sweet dressing that’ll rival your mom’s.
Prices: hover around $12-$15 for most items
If you’re craving global flavors
319 W. Superior St.
Expect veggie jalfrezi, shrimp biryani, mango ice cream and so much more at this downtown Duluth spot.
My go-to is their lamb kashmiri , which comes with cubes of tender lamb, raisins, cashews and apples in a sea of to-die-for sauce made with onion velouté and tomato pureé. You can order it hot, which I always do, and the added spice only intensifies the flavors.
If you order to-go, expect two containers, one with the meat and sauce, the other with basmati rice. It creates a smooth and creamy flavor, with bursts of sweet from the apples and raisins. There will be enough for leftovers.
See also: When it’s back up and running, check out their lunch buffet for a wider taste of India.
Prices: range from $13-18 for entrees
If you’re into quality vegan fare
This plant-based food truck sprouted in Duluth last summer, and they’re all about food that’s good in the tummy and on your conscience. It’s cooking from scratch with seasonal ingredients that aims to “challenge our world’s view on vegan food,” according to their Facebook page.
I was a stranger to plant-based food when I dined at the ladies’ food truck. Eating their Buffalo Chik’n Tacos and Moroccan Carrot Slaw was a game-changer — with juicy and twisty buffalo-flavored soy curls.
It was sweet, fresh and bursting with flavor — my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
The slaw was a treat for the eyes and tongue, bright orange, zesty and mixed with grated carrots and golden raisins.
Mama’s apple cider vinegar-maple syrup-lime aioli was kicking.
For around $14, you get your pick of two to three entrees, and more sides with a mix of blueberry basil bowl, vegan queso and a crunch wrap, berry ice box cake, Philly chz, coffee cake pb cups.
Check their Facebook page, facebook.com/mamarootsbus , for more info and for upcoming sightings. You’ll likely catch them at Back Alley Duluth, Wild State Cider or other like-minded spots.
Prices: $3-$5 for desserts or mint juice; $13-$14 for entrees + one side
See also: Grumpy Goose
If you want delish + cost-effective
New to Duluth? You’ll see this green food truck roaming around the Northland from Bent Paddle to St. Luke’s, Vista Fleet and the Civic Center.
The food truck’s a staple, with most Duluthians claiming their go-to of bacon wrapped slaw dogs, mahi mahi tacos or teriyaki pulled pork.
Mine has always been the Reuben Fritters , made of balled-up spheres of corned beef, Swiss and sauerkraut. You can see tiny specks of seasoning in the fried and light breading.
Biting into the fritter, you’re greeted by shrouds of kraut and rich corned beef fall.
To dip or not to dip?
I say go for it in the creamy Thousand Island dressing that adds an irresistibly savory zing.
Get four for $6, or a half order for $3. Check their schedule , and ramble on.
You’re on the hunt something veggie + melty
Sir Benedict ’ s Tavern on the Lake
805 E. Superior St.
Sir Benedict's Tavern on the Lake has a slew of vegan and GF offerings along with a variety pack of goods. Think: a pastrami, porchetta and pepperoni sandwich; a Bahn Belli, a German pretzel, salads, bread pudding, a list of nonalcoholic bevs.
Of their two shroom burgers, I opted for the portobello melt, which comes with marinated portobello mushrooms, Swiss, caramelized onions and Thai pepper mayo.
The portobellos are marinated in roasted garlic, olive oil, crushed red pepper, thyme and lemon juice. The burger comes out warm with melty Swiss and creamy onions.
Sir Ben’s faces Lake Superior. There’s outdoor seating, wine, rails and beers — and a history of live music and open mics.
Prices: $4 for soup to $13 for the “Best Nachos Ever”
You’re in for something sweet + Twisted
1418 Tower Ave Suite 2, Superior
If you’re looking for a chill-yet-lively place to study that doubles as the Willy Wonka’s of baked goods, jet on over to Twisted Pastries in Superior.
The pastry counter is regularly something to behold. You might find red wine dark chocolate, cherry malt, blackberry lavender or unicorn poop.
During my visit, I was equally impressed with their donuts covered in mini marshmallows, dipped Oreos and cinnamon rolls as I was with their large gluten-free options of scones and macarons.
This is a tale of their GF red velvet cupcake , though, which was perfectly squishy with tiny sprinkles atop a mound of not-too-sweet frosting. (I also had a blueberry scone during this visit — shhh — which was equally delicious.)
Along with sweets, it is a full coffee shop with a mixed bag of full meals of oatmeal and acai bowls, panini sandwiches, hot chocolate and nitro cold press on tap.
If you’re jonesing for ’za
1830 E. 8th St.
V.I.P. has spots in East Duluth, West Duluth and Superior. If you’ve scoped the online menu, check that the location you choose carries it before ordering.
The menu runs the gamut of pizza flatbreads, calzones, pasta and pizza; the latter consists of a Polynesian, an Italian Kraut, a Cheesy Mediterranean Artichoke and more.
I’ve had the Chicken Wild Rice and the New Orleans Chicken-Jack, and highly recommend both.
Large dry herbs, mushroom chunks and chicken shards, onion and a fine layer of barbecue sauce rest on creamy pizza sauce with a little spice.
V.I.P.’s menu discloses that the chicken-jack ’za “was stolen from a neat little place in New Orleans."
I can see why.