Stuck hungry on Superior Street? Check out these four very different burgers for whatever you're craving.

The Elk Burger @ Fitger's Brewhouse

The Elk Burger at Fitger's Brewhouse is made with 100% elk, and it's topped with tomatoes and lettuce. (Melinda Lavine / mlavine@duluthnews.com)
The Elk Burger at Fitger's Brewhouse is made with 100% elk, and it's topped with tomatoes and lettuce. (Melinda Lavine / mlavine@duluthnews.com)

600 E. Superior St.

218-279-2739

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fitgersbrewhouse.com

It was a sunny and chatty Fitger’s Brewhouse. Many nearby event-goers filtered in during a workshop break wearing colorful name tags. My waitress shared stories of quick orders from earlier in the day.

I was in for something different, and I found it with the Elk Burger. Despite being raised in North Dakota, I’ve never had elk or lutefisk. It was time for the former.

The burger smelled gamey, a nice change to the senses. The ground elk is mixed with garlic and onions, and it’s topped with Roma tomatoes and romaine. It usually comes with house-made bourbon mustard, but I asked for the chipotle pepper sauce, which had a subtle kick that well-tempered the gamey-ness.

The burger was juicy, grilled with the perfect amount of pink in the center. And it’s 100% elk. “They haven’t cut it with anything in years,” my waitress said.

Though the sandwich didn’t need much, I would’ve added more fixings for flair: onions, mayo, jalapenos.

Burgers run around $12.99, and they come with your choice of beer-battered fries, blue corn chips with salsa, fresh veggies, small salad or coleslaw. I went with what I found to be a pretty basic salad with sprouts, lettuce, cukes. Add a GF bun or premium side for a buck-fifty each.

With that in mind and a price tag of $20 with a tip, this meal was a bit costly.

Prices range from $5.99 for Black Bean Vegan Chili to $13.49 for a Maple Salad. As a whole, Fitger’s has a Chili Cheeseburger, a nice mix of Minnesota Wild Rice Burgers, and a mix of gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options, which is a huge plus.

I’m glad I had an elk experience, but I’d come back for some wild rice action.

Portobello Melt @ Sir Benedict's Tavern on the Lake

The Portobello Melt comes with marinated portobello mushrooms, Swiss, caramelized onions and Thai pepper mayo at Sir Benedict's Tavern on the Lake. (Melinda Lavine / mlavine@duluthnews.com)
The Portobello Melt comes with marinated portobello mushrooms, Swiss, caramelized onions and Thai pepper mayo at Sir Benedict's Tavern on the Lake. (Melinda Lavine / mlavine@duluthnews.com)

805 E. Superior St.

218-728-1192

sirbens.com

Sir’s Ben’s was filling up fast on Friday evening. The chatter was bustling, and the crowd was mixed with couples, happy-hour attendees, a woman and a young girl.

The line to order was long, and weaving through the restaurant were wait staff and customers rearranging tables as needed.

Slimming down menu options, it was a dead heat between the Portobello Melt and the Chick Peary. My dining guy ordered the Chick Peary, which comes with chicken, bacon, pear, medjool dates, greens and herbed boursin on a ciabatta.

After two bites and silence, he called it “a masterpiece,” which is no easy feat.

I ordered the Portobello Melt, and no regrets.

It comes with marinated portobello mushrooms, Swiss, caramelized onions and Thai pepper mayo. It’s usually served on pumpernickel, but after a gluten-free request, the cook wisely added a third slice in the middle, creating a sound structure for the abundance of juicy, cheese-covered portobellos, hmm.

The ’shrooms are marinated in roasted garlic, olive oil, crushed red pepper, thyme and lemon juice. Mixed with the Swiss and creamy onions, it was a warm and comforting vegetarian meal on a chilly March evening.

I topped it off with a not-so-healthy Wisconsin-made Sprecher’s Orange Dream craft soda. And as promised by a waiter, it tasted like a creamsicle. More like a dreamsicle.

Sir Ben’s has a slew of vegan and GF offerings, and a build-your-own sandy, ‘Za Matador pizza, a Pear and Chicken Salad, French Silk Pie, Pesto Bruschetta.

I’ve never been disappointed with their fare, and this visit was no different.

The Salmon Cake Sandwich @ Pickwick Restaurant & Bar

Pickwick Restaurant and Pub's Salmon Cake Sandwich is served with avocado, sprouts, tomato and homemade wasabi tartar on ciabatta. (Melinda Lavine / mlavine@duluthnews.com)
Pickwick Restaurant and Pub's Salmon Cake Sandwich is served with avocado, sprouts, tomato and homemade wasabi tartar on ciabatta. (Melinda Lavine / mlavine@duluthnews.com)

508 E. Superior St.

218-623-7425

pickwickduluth.com/dinner

I creeped into the Pickwick to find a lively scene with two folks singing up a storm. It was lovely, but not my thing on Thursday night. The waitress was super fast and accommodating when I asked to sit away from the bustle.

When the Salmon Cake Sandwich came out, my plate was still warm. The hand-pattied and deep-fried salmon cake is the perfect amount of crunch on the outside with a signature salmon cakey and flaky inside — warm and wonderfully dissolving on the tongue.

Avocado and tomato rested in aesthetically pleasing cubes on a layer of housemade wasabi tartar with light sprinkles of sprouts. The sauce is a revelation that I intend to try at home.

This was my favorite sandwich of the bunch.

It comes with your choice of chips, fries, onions rings, a salad or broiled Parmesan tomatoes for an upcharge.

I was all for trying new things, so I went for the broiled tomatoes. The Parmesan and garlic made for a crunchy, tasty coating, locking in all the sweet tomato juice.

It was my second time at the Pickwick. The inside beams of rich history with lovely wooden carvings and elegant chandeliers — and a modern twist in flat-screen TVs hanging in the leather-covered booths.

The crowd seemed jolly, like a mix of regulars. Many sat in high-tops close to the band, smiling in admiration and likely the end-of-the-week glow. I sang the “Cheers” theme song to myself looking at them.

Prices range for a half order of onion rings for $7.50 to seared scallops for $37.50, a New York Strip for $39. The Salmon Cake Sandwich is $15, not a frugal choice, but certainly a memorable one.

The Taphouse @ 7 West Taphouse

The Taphouse is a signature burger with jalapeno beer cheese and sauteed onions at 7 West Taphouse in downtown Duluth. (Melinda Lavine / mlavine@duluthnews.com)
The Taphouse is a signature burger with jalapeno beer cheese and sauteed onions at 7 West Taphouse in downtown Duluth. (Melinda Lavine / mlavine@duluthnews.com)

7 W. Superior St.

218-727-2494

7westtaphouse.com

For as long as I’ve lived in Duluth, I’ve never had a 7 West burger. My dining guy frequents their downtown spot for this very dish, so I figured it was time to giddy up.

And I was struck by the tots and the options. There’s one with cheese curds, one with coleslaw, one with housemade bacon bleu cheese!

I went for the Taphouse that comes with Taphouse sauce, sauteed beer onions, jalapeno beer cheese. (For the temperate, allergic or underage, the beer cooks outta the food, the waitress said.)

I ordered a side of sweet potato fries, which were a crunchy contrast to the burger.

A pile of fried onions swirled atop a fluffy helping of jalapeno beer cheese. I spotted little dots of orange in the cloud-like puff. That’s cheddar cheese, along with cream cheese, jalapenos and cajun seasoning, oof.

Beneath it sat a hearty burger resting on a generous layer of Taphouse sauce, which is a spicy Thousand Island without relish, mayo, mustard and ketchup. The lightly grilled, gluten-y bun well-held the burger’s contents. And the flavors were rich, warming and heavy, hitting the spot during some early-March snowfall.

I visited after the lunch hour. Business was slow, service was fast, and the tables had rolls of paper towels, ready for sticky fingers.

Prices are reasonable, ranging from $4.99 for pretzel bites to $9.99 for a Sticky Pork Bowl. No gluten-free bun options, but 7 West has veggie and noodle bowls, tacos, salads and starters of fried green beans, Japanese beer cheese wontons, loaded tots.

And there are deep-fried Twinkies … what?

They played a throwback mix over the speakers. I danced to Milli Vanilli in one of the high-tops facing Superior Street, relishing a burger sandwiched with things I don’t normally eat — gluten and dairy. I wouldn’t be happy about it later, but on that snowy afternoon, all the cheese won.