Superior, Wisconsin, the other half of the Twin Ports, grows annually as a tourist destination as well as a shipbuilding and manufacturing hub. Fur-trading posts were established, primarily by the French, in the 1660s, and the settlement didn’t begin until the 1850s. The final port of call for the Edmund Fitzgerald, you’ll find many memorials and reminders of the great ship built by Great Lakes Engineering Works.
When you’re driving around town, by the library or public park, you’ll see the motto, “Living Up To Our Name.” The restaurants that I had the opportunity to visit certainly are superior, so the motto stands tall.
Ask your colleagues for recommendations; The Golden Inn topped the list. Even if you ask someone what the best Chinese restaurant in Duluth is, they’ll mention the Golden Inn. “We order from there several times a week. We love Chinese,” they told me.
So, I had to go.
The 10 Best Restaurants in Superior Wisconsin
24 E Street // (715) 395-2565
It’s instantly open and friendly, with a combination of booths bordering the walls as the four-top tables fill the center of the room. The dropped roof with green shrubbery makes all the difference in the atmosphere, with the typical Chinese symbols you’ve come to expect.
Sit down and check out which of the Chinese symbols represents the year of your birth. While chopsticks are available upon request, they provide a fork AND knife, which gives you an indication of the size of their protein pieces.
I’m glad I had the knife. Since I was there at lunchtime, I had the opportunity to choose a few dishes – who doesn’t like Chinese leftovers, after all?
With lunch, the special is the entree, an egg roll or crab rangoon, and fried rice. Steamed (white) rice is also available upon request.
I ordered both the Sesame Chicken and General Tso’s Chicken (mild for me, at least the first time I try a new place) – and asked the server’s advice on which to take home. That is, which would reheat the easiest and best? It took just a moment of consideration for him to say “Sesame Chicken,” so General Tso’s for lunch it is.
The restaurant is a pleasant place for a short wait. The lunch rush had passed, so most of the other customers were friends reuniting or couples savoring a late lunch or early dinner.
The General Tso’s, delivered with a flourish, appeared more as a dinner entree than a lunch special, the plate heaping with white rice over a generous portion of chicken covered with the tangy, spicy sauce. No vegetables for this dish (or the sesame chicken). I’m sure I’ll try the medium spice the next time I have this dish, but it was good for a first meal. Filling and enough to take away for lunch tomorrow.
When I indicated I was ready for my to-go box and check, the server delivered my sesame chicken without a reminder. I opened the box, just to see how it tasted “fresh.” The sauce is modestly different from the General Tso’s, with less spice and more tang. The chicken is breaded lightly, and the combination with steamed rice is utterly delicious.
Based on my first two dishes here, I can tell why the locals order from this restaurant again and again.
1112 Tower Avenue // (218) 409- 2525
This Doughnut Shop caught my attention during my very first visit to Superior, but it was nearly a month before I could visit. It’s about 12 minutes from Downtown Duluth, across the Blatnik (aka “High”) Bridge, and opens at 7am.
One Saturday when working, I asked a colleague to cover for me and was at the store when it opened, the lady just starting to move the trays of doughnuts from the sheet pan rack to the display case.
Turns out, it’s cash only, no credit cards, but the bar next door has a cash machine (they serve breakfast). And getting one of everything available cost me about $30.
Their best seller, she said, is the white powdered sugar-covered, raspberry-filled doughnut. They have blueberry, lemon curd, and raspberry filling, conveniently distinguished by a colored dot in the center. I had half of one, and it’s delicious. The dough is so fresh, perfectly baked, with just the right combination of textures.
Their crullers, equally delicious, can be purchased either sugared or glazed. I had part of a sugar-covered cruller and would happily have it again.
Some of the doughnuts looked like a layer cake with frosting on either side.
The dark chocolate doughnut with sprinkles was the grateful choice of one of my colleagues who’d worked through the night, so busy that she hadn’t time for dinner. That may have been the perfect time to have this delicious treat. She loved it, she said, and had an extra dose of energy to get home.
Their apple fritters have various toppings. I prefer them plain. They’re one of my favorites, so I will be having them again soon.
They serve both cinnamon rolls and caramel rolls, so depending on how sticky you like your pastries, they’ll have a great choice for you.
One of the fun parts? As I entered the hospital, other staff looked longingly at the box, “You’re going to be very popular today!” For a cold, rainy Sunday, it’s the perfect treat … or let’s be serious, any day is the perfect day to treat your friends and family.
You don’t need a dozen excuses to go. Just don’t make a dozen excuses about exercise when you start visiting regularly.
They do offer gift cards online, so, if you don’t carry cash, consider purchasing a gift card before you go.
Pho Cali Vietnamese Family Noodles Restaurant
1320 Belknap Street // (715)718-5567
This casual restaurant serves the rice and noodle dishes you’ve come to appreciate, as well as sandwiches and fruity drinks for both kids and adults. One of my colleagues is regularly tasked with stopping here to pick up dinner for the family on the way home from work.
If you have the time to stop and eat, though, enjoy perusing the menu with an order of garlic fries or potstickers. My daughter’s favorite fried shrimp rolls and fried calamari are both available.
They offer nine rare steak noodle soups and a chicken noodle soup my dad would have loved. There are ten other types of soup, including Won Ton, that make the options cover a wide palate of tastes.
It takes a while to become accustomed to the menu if you’re not a regular Pho person, so take your time and examine each. Try a new dish each time you come through. If you’re not a very adventurous eater, it can be overwhelming.
They offer 11 types of pork, from charbroiled to shredded, frequently over rice, or chicken or beef or seafood fried rice.
I’m still easing my way into the world of Pho. As my daughter orders something more exotic, I may have the chicken with vegetable or broccoli chicken, the shaken beef with rice, or the super-easy sweet and sour chicken over fried rice (ask in advance if they have steamed rice if that’s your preference).
They do have tofu dishes, including spring rolls and “chow fun” dishes with the various proteins that are a delicious chow mein.
And they offer strawberry or avocado smoothies for a refreshing drink, as well as coconut or orange juice, and their hot or iced milk coffee.
Even newbies can find something to love at this highly recommended restaurant.
1323 Broadway Suite #100 // (715) 817- 4775
This delectable tapas bar, affected by the pandemic, hasn’t yet resumed its food service but allows you to bring an order over from other local restaurants and enjoy their expanded outdoor seating. It’s open Wednesday through Saturday.
1615 Winter Street // (715) 394-2500
When you’re looking for a local brewpub with great pizza and beer with live music, this is your spot! And here, you’ll be in such a rush to get your pizza, you, too, may shorten it to “‘ Za.”
Ready for pub fare? Try their TPB Bread, a vegetarian dish made from 10″ round, fresh-baked pizza dough with your choice of topping from Margherita style to garlic, mozzarella cheese, and a warm red sauce for dipping, or artichoke and mozzarella cheese.
The stuffed mushrooms become gluten-free when served without the bread, and you’ll hardly miss it with the mushroom caps overflowing with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese bake. Reuben roll-ups are another choice for 10″ round stretched then stuffed with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing. I wonder if they’ll make corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day?
For my favorites, look no further than the large soft pretzel, served with dill mustard, or their loaded pretzel, the same pretzel cut into bite-sized pieces covered in mozzarella, cheddar, and bacon, also served with a side of dill mustard, but equally good without.
For pizza lovers, they offer recommended beer pairings. For example, ready for Tequila Lime Chicken’ Za? Have a Peacock Pilsner. The Curry Chickpea ‘Za? Try the North Coast Amber. For the six pizzas we “quizzed” our server about, we received a recommendation. They have cauliflower crust available for gluten-free and a calzone as an additional option. Or, Build Your Own Pizza with 23 ingredients available for a 10-, 13-, or 16-inch pie. Makes for a fun time watching sports, too.
If you’ve saved any room with all those great choices, take a look at their cheesecake bites or platter (ask your server for current flavors), vanilla ice cream, or the Burntwood Black Brownie. The latter is made with the house-brewed Burntwood Black beer and is a great favorite among the locals. Be sure to request it early to be sure you get a piece.
They serve Pepsi products as well as Root Beer and Cream Soda from Sprecher.
413 Tower Avenue // (715) 394-9747
My colleagues recommended the great food at Anchor Bar & Grill, also featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. “It’s a total dive, it’s cheap, and it has beer – and we appreciate it,” he said.
And he, of course, was right. You can spend more than a lunch hour just staring at the nautical memorabilia spread across the place, above, below, and around the bar. It’s a game to find the non-nautical items, just because we can.
They do one thing, and they do it really well. Burgers and fries. With so many outdoor activities in this region, it’s great to be able to walk into a friendly place and have one of the most delicious burgers I’ve had anywhere.
4909 E. 2nd Street // (715) 398-0333
Just because the pandemic seems to be turning things upside down and topsy turvy, if you call Gronk’s to place a To-Go order and they don’t answer, that means they’re too busy (usually 5p-730pm) to answer the phone, so come on in, sit down, and place your order here in person.
Upside down is what Gronk’s is famous for … from their upside-down burger to the 22 beer bottoms-up tap system. One of my colleagues explained it to me, and, based on what I learned at the Guinness Storehouse, it makes sense for a reduction in wastage.
The beer mug has a circle on the bottom, through which the tap inserts and the glass fills. No more worries about the head spilling over the lip. It flows right in. It’s pretty cool to see in person.
The food not only tastes delicious and smells appropriately decadent, but the portions are also so large you can plan to have leftovers for your next meal.
Check their daily specials (from chimichanga to prime rib sandwich basket to beer-battered cod) for an even better deal, but don’t be surprised that you return to the burgers over and over again. Choose from hamburger, cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger, patty melt, mushroom Swiss burger, California burger, cheddar burger, and the chili cheeseburger.
Or go for the gold and get the “Gronk” burger, a pile of onions on top of the burger with smoked bacon, their specialty BBQ sauce, with stringy provolone cheese. The Ms. Gronk adds pickles and some vegetables. The one-pound “Mighty Mammoth” burger is a full pound of ground beef. I haven’t seen anyone finish it yet.
If you’re ready for something different, they have a delicious beef dip, as well as Italian beef, an Italian “bomber” (beef and sausage), prime rib sandwich, fish sandwich, BLT, grilled cheese, and chicken fajita pita.
Their chicken comes as a dinner or part of the henny penny special. Check out the loaded baked potato or the sconny poutine, and you’ll feel right at home. Their BBQ rib dinner is way too much food for me to eat, and I made the mistake of saying that once. My colleagues pointed to the “largemouth” menu and laughed. Any of their eight other burgers could be served as a sandwich basket (fries or chips and cole slaw). No one was up for the five-pound Enger Tower or eight-pound great divide burger challenges. Maybe another time.
But wait, there’s more. The sandwiches, sausage, and hot dogs would be enough on their own, but pizza is available, too. You could move right in and never have the same meal twice.
Desserts include ice cream sundaes, root beer or orange crush ice cream floats, or the warmed-up lava cake topped with ice cream.
This is one of the few places I absolutely could not even consider dessert. That’s impressive.
1319 Tower Avenue // (715)718-0386
Fans of architecture (tin ceiling!) and pub food gain a double win at this friendly local establishment with ever-entertaining names. Understanding computers. Chocolate Dipped Biscotti. Puff Tart XL. Tiramisu Moo Joos. My personal favorite is Mango Blonde. They have an entire section on Brunettes having more fun for the brown ales.
Dark, light, sweet, sour … you name it, they’ll pour it.
Nine starter choices include pretzel bites and cheese curds. Their loaded tots add jalapenos for that extra fire. The Jalapeno Beer Cheese Wontons are my colleague’s first choice.
Three salads, and six tacos; I appreciate they offer the option of a lettuce wrap instead of a tortilla. It won’t surprise you that a deconstructed beer cheese wonton is a top seller.
Their seven specialty burgers, in addition to the wonderful “Plain Jane,” a burger and a bun, offer a world of opportunity. Have a nostalgic bent tonight? Go with the PBJ & bacon; it’s really peanut butter, grape jelly, bacon, and sriracha sauce on a beef patty with a pretzel bun. You’d never think it could taste as good as it does.
Eight sandwiches include the green olive and cream cheese (or substitute jalapenos for a little extra fire) and the one-eyed jack, pepper-jack with a fried egg on a pretzel bun. Whoever creates the names deserves their own award.
Order Tap House Chips or French Fries, cut to order right in front of you. They’re the freshest, most amazing potatoes we tasted. With eleven dipping sauces (try the White BBQ!), you could make a meal of the taters alone.
1412 Tower Ave. // (715) 718-0229
It’s waffles. The entire place is devoted to waffles. It’s great.
In case you need more information, though, it’s just been recognized as one of the best places to eat in the Twin Ports area by a local news station (ABC affiliate). Serving both savory and sweet, it was their strawberry cheesecake waffle, I believe, that garnered top marks.
In addition to that award winner, I’m a fan of the warm apple crisp waffle and have met many people who return again and again for the Celebration waffle, complete with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
For savory waffles, their chicken and waffle was also recognized by the local news. It can be eaten like a sandwich. The Sconie, I hear it pronounced “skan-ee,” like a person from Wisconsin, served with ham, cheese, and raspberry jam, is a great balance between sweet and savory and much beloved.
Perhaps the most amazing to me is the Braffle. It’s a brat, fresh from the grill, nestled in a waffle with raspberry jam and syrup. Astounding. And available to you every day but Monday.
1901 Tower Ave. // (718) 718-0720
A popular Jamaican place, the owner and head chef has been cooking for 25 years. If you haven’t been introduced to Caribbean food, this is a great place to start. The large portions and great food make it easy to return again and again.
This is great, especially since the menu changes frequently. What I had last week may not be available when I return next month.
My favorite was the Jerk Brisket Stew served with roasted herb-crusted potatoes. Some places are heavy-handed with the jerk seasoning, and that’s where this chef’s talents are so greatly appreciated. It was the perfect proportion with tender brisket like I thought only my Great Aunt Eileen could make. The chef never knew her, but I think they would’ve respected each other’s talents.
Chef Tony O’Neill says he learned a lot from his grandmother. Always makes sense to keep it in the family. I’m so glad he’s sharing what he’s learned with all of us.
Visiting other destinations in Wisconsin? Check out our other delicious guides:
Gail Clifford, MD, a physician for more than 25 years, has traveled to five continents and all 50 United States. An avid traveler, she happily goes on new adventures, especially on birthdays. Multi-generational travel remains a treasured pastime. She divides her time between Ireland and the U.S. You can find her on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.