Living in the heart of Duluth, a trip up the shore to the New Scenic can feel like a special occasion destination — a place to go when you want to wear un-sturdy shoes and a chance to carefully place the contents of your wallet on the table and say "I'll take one of everything. And make that a bottle of wine."
Maybe it's the lighting. Maybe it's the quail. It can't be the distance that makes it feel special. After a long absence from the brick and mortar, I've been to its food truck Scenic 61, located at the same address, multiple times since it opened in mid-August.
And so, if my bubble of social media is any indication, have a lot of people.
Scenic 61's set up is an Airstream, so shiny you can take a selfie in it. New Scenic owner Scott Graden already had traveling food plans, with an eye toward the Minnesota State Fair, when the pandemic hit. Now it's parked in the restaurant's lot, and the ever-changing menu is scratched onto a white board, a clever mix of things that are easy to eat and on-brand with New Scenic's consistent mix of innovation and aesthetic. Even the employees' T-shirts are a look to envy. (And now on sale.)
The sashimi tacos seem to be a fan favorite; the tortilla chips are oversized and well-salted. The lobster roll is the lobster roll of your East Coast fan fiction. The hot dog is topped with kimchi. I ordered tacos on my first trip, and they were draped with saffron and the Inca corn popped.
Get the dessert: seis leches is a milky smooth cake, with a dollop of blueberry sauce and crumbles on top. Even the cookies, two: one just chocolate, the other chocolate chip, are dusted with sea salt and soft.
Seating is spaced throughout the restaurant grounds, in garden corners, under trees, some facing Lake Superior. There are 10 large picnic tables. During our most recent trip, we stopped to apologize to a neighboring table for our lunch cackles. Both of the diners sat on the same side of the table, a bottle of wine between them, a woman with a laptop. She had tuned us out, she said, while she wrote poetry.
Where: 5461 North Shore Drive, with plans to travel