Established as an Embers in 1991, the Duluth Grill evolved five years ago when Tom Hanson and his family purchased it and started changing the menu.”People used to come in, look at our menu, and then go to another Embers,” recalls Hanson.
Gardens now line the side of the building and only cage-free organic eggs are used. There are no big signs marketing local or organic, but the restaurant competes with Chester Creek Cafe for the Duluth restaurant using the most local and organic ingredients. It has been a slow and steady progression for the Duluth Grill; the restaurant’s ability to source local and organic food has grown with its popularity and reputation. Both increased dramatically after being featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives — host Guy Fieri tried the Wild Rice Melt ($9), Homemade Pasty ($8.79), and Dakota Pot Roast Dinner ($10.49).
The breakfast menu is an array of omelets, pancakes, and egg dishes, while lunch and dinner feature burgers, sandwiches, and classic dinner plates such as meat loaf and pot roast. It’s humble food, made with good ingredients. All of the beef is grass fed from Mark and Terry Thell at 4 Quarters Holdings and all of the chickens are from Gerber’s Poultry.
The Smoked Salmon Omelet ($10.29) is made with smoked salmon from Northern Waters Smokehaus in Canal Park. The omelet is packed with smoked fish, and the taste is rich. All omelets are served with a choice of a frosted cinnamon roll, cinnamon roll with pecans, gluten-free buckwheat banana bread, french toast, a scone made locally by Arlene Coco at Prairie Kitchen, or toast. Jams are made by Jan Johnson on the Gunflint Trail and the peanut butter is made in-house, giving Hell Burgers a taste of competition.
Your choice of hash browns or red flannel hash is served on the side of breakfast plates. The red flannel hash is a Duluth Grill original, featuring beets, sweet potatoes, onions, and carrots. Most of the produce is sourced from John Fisher-Merritt, but with beets growing in the gardens outside the source might be getting even closer. The red flannel hash has a clean taste, contrasting with the grease-laden hash browns served at Uncle Louis Cafe and similar restaurants, and it has a harder texture, with the earthy taste of the beets and sweetness of the onions prominent and balanced.
Ten gluten-free and seven vegetarian options are available on the menu, with Smoked Salmon Cracklebred ($11) and a Tempeh and Portabella Mushroom Stacker ($9.49) among the entrees. Also available are vegan cheese slices and Vegenaise.
The source of food at the Duluth Grill is the foundation for the quality. Tom Hanson and his family continue to own and operate a restaurant that feels like an Embers, but tastes on the cutting edge. With radishes and beets planted in the gardens and organic flour incorporated into the menu, the end is not in sight. The Hanson family isn’t sourcing their food so they can put up a sign about it; they are sourcing it locally and organically because it tastes better.
Casual Family Dining with Locally Sourced and Organic Foods
118 S 27th Ave W
Duluth, MN 55806
OWNERS: Tom Hanson and family
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Yes