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Things We Like: The Praetorian at Superior’s Empire Coffee

Empire offers elevated coffee-shop fare.

The Praetorian at Superior’s Empire Coffee comes with chicken, provolone, pesto, spinach and sun-dried tomato on a delectable, lightly toasted ciabatta bun. Melinda Lavine / Duluth News Tribune

A friend across the bridge introduced me to Empire Coffee, and always on the lookout for spots to work outside my home, I drove over the Blatnik on a gray December morn to check out the fare in Superior.

Parking was easy on Tower Avenue, and I felt a little fancy walking in. There are high ceilings, tall windows and lovely spreads from local candlemakers, photographers, authors and artists.

The building’s more than 100 years old, and its current inhabitant features the kind of aesthetic you’d see in a movie or TV show.

The menu is a mix of scrumptious-sounding salads, flatbreads and sammies with on-theme names: Italia, Pompeii, Romulus. Prices range from $4.5 for a cheddar and Parm grilled cheese on sourdough to $10 for a veggie flatbread.

And, of course, the laundry list of coffee, teas, hot and cold, and smoothies to boot.



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I went with the Praetorian, and after placing my order, the barista asked if I wanted the pickle and chips. I declined, pleased at the question because less food waste is a win-win.
My sandwich was on-point with a moderate layer of pesto (yum!), melted provolone, succulent chicken chunks, green spinach and bits of subtly zingy sun-dried tomato on a ciabatta bun — not-too crispy on the outside, squishy carb wonderment on the inside. (Gluten-free bread is $1 extra.)

Empire offers elevated coffee-shop fare. There’s ample, well-spaced out seating in tables and cushy chairs. A father and son conversed in the latter before hugging goodbye. Two younger lads honed in on their laptops and a couple ladies hunched close to chat at a larger table.

This spot seems to have mastered the art of paying-customer-only wi-fi. Upon ordering, I was given a password and a code to log in. The latter is good for 12 hours. And, I was able to connect one of my devices with it. (I wisely went with my laptop.)

I was a bit too cold to hang for as long as I intended. I’ll be better prepared next time.

Empire Coffee

1204 Tower Ave., Superior


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