Duluth's best food spots that only locals know about

Get out of my way, I'm hungry!

Get out of my way, I'm hungry!

Grandma's Marathon is this weekend, drawing thousands of participants from around the globe.  From Two Harbors to Canal Park, all the usual restaurants and bars will be packed with throngs of tourists. While we love the Pickwick and Fitger's Brewhouse as much as the next Superior Dip snarfing beer hoarder, facing a two-hour wait can be daunting. If you're running, volunteering, or cheering, we thought a little weekend reprieve from the sweaty masses might be in order.

[jump] 5. Uncle Louie's Cafe, 520 East Fourth Street, Duluth

Everything is under $10 at this old-school diner-type location. Family run with excellent service and Greek-influenced meals. It's impossible to walk out the door without waddling.  Carbo-load on the Stay-Puft-sized pancakes, big as a platter and subtly laced with a dash of pumpkin-pie spice. Unexpected cinnamon-nutmeg notes waft through the crispy exterior and downy interior. 

4. Deluxe Coney Island, 112 West First Street, Duluth

There's great debate over who has the best Coney dog in Duluth, but we would argue that not only are these fine dogs delicious, but the kitsch of the locale is worth the trip alone. Not a thing has been renovated since the '60s; instead, it's been cared for and well maintained.  Grab a dog topped the uniquely spiced Coney sauce, mustard, and extra onions. Even if you don't like onions or mustard, just do it--total flavor alchemy.

3. JJ Astor, 505 West Superior Street, Duluth

Not in the mood for something in the Greek diner department? No problem. The newly opened JJ Astor at the top of the downtown Duluth Radisson has a menu full of epicurean finery such as a delectible duck confit or foie gras potatoes. It also has one of the best views in the city.  Serving brunch, lunch, dinner, and an agreeable wine, this is an elegant break from a down and dirty weekend.

2. Sustenance Bakery/Red Mug Coffee, 916 Hammond, Superior, Wisconsin

But enough with the grease and fat, right? Just because you burned all those calories doesn't mean you have to gain them back in just one sitting. Why not check out a gem hidden amidst the bar-street reputation of Superior? Serving the softest multigrain bread in all of creation and smelling of yeast and cardamom, it's a little slice of heaven. Head across the hall for a little art gallery window shopping, or step downstairs to Red Mug for sustainably grown, locally roasted, toasty coffee or a sweet, cool iced chai. These sweet spots prove there is more to Superior than bars and shipyards.

1. Lake Avenue Cafe, 394 South Lake Avenue, Duluth

Perhaps its location in the heart of the excitment doesn't count as off the beaten path, but under new ownership the Lakeview Cafe boasts beautiful food as well as an exquisite bar list.  Ditch the plastic bottles of watery brew and head inside to the cafe, where there is no such thing as "rail"--only top-shelf liquors are served. Throw in a little truffled popcorn ($5) to accompany that fine cocktail.  You've earned it.