Best Restaurant Worth the Drive - 2012
Lake Avenue Café
Gray slate rock juts out of brilliant green grass overlooking majestic Lake Superior. Down by the water, just off the finish line for Grandma's Marathon, is an area mostly filled with mediocre restaurants. Although the Lake Avenue Café has been there for years, the young crew running the place is a relatively recent addition. The food is beyond better than average, from elegant comfort food like the pungent, Taleggio-touched mac and cheese to a tender, succulent braised pork belly. The café also rocks a bar program like no one else in the area. Almost all the brews and booze are local, with none of that plastic-bottle rail garbage. From the art to the giant wood booths, built by an artisan friend of the restaurant, it's a cosmopolitan outpost in a unique small-town setting by the sea (or at least what feels like a sea). On sunny days the patio is tucked away from the crazy tourist hordes on Canal Park. On wintry or rainy days, when you're embraced by the warm wood interior and munching on spicy, chorizo-stuffed dates, you may never want to leave.