2015 Reader’s Choice Restaurant Award Winners

In February, the polls opened for our annual Northern Wilds Restaurant Awards, featuring 21 different categories, from Best Fish to Best Server. The winners were picked by our readers and the results were posted in May. Here are the winning restaurants, proudly displaying their awards.

Sydney's

Sydney’s is the 2015 winner for Best Pizza.

Sydney’s Frozen Custard
Displaying his Best Pizza award is Bruce Block, owner of Sydney’s, located in Grand Marais. While Sydney’s is known for their amazing custard selection, they’re also quite popular for their wood-fired pizzas. Made to perfection with simple, fresh ingredients, Sydney’s uses unexpected flavors, such as gorgonzola cheese and honey-crisp apples, as well as traditional toppings. They are open all summer long and provide indoor and outdoor seating with a great view of Lake Superior.Breana Roy

Gun Flint Tavern is the 2015 winner for multiple categories. |FILE

Gun Flint Tavern is the 2015 winner for multiple categories.

Gun Flint Tavern
The Gun Flint Tavern in Grand Marais won multiple categories this year; Best Music Venue, Best Beer Selection and Best Ethnic Fare. The Tavern offers six house-made beers and 18 micro-brews on draft, as well as live music all weekend long and some weekdays. The Tavern also provides a variety of food, from the Spicy Asian Big Bowl and Fajitas to Bangers and Mash and the Nova Scotia Fisherman’s Stew. Displaying the award is bar manager Terry Valdiva and owner Jeffrey Gecas. For more info, visit www.gunflinttavern.com.Breana Roy

Dockside is the 2015 winner of Best Fish.

Dockside is the 2015 winner of Best Fish.

Dockside Fish Market
The year’s award for Best Fish went to Dockside in Grand Marais. Dockside specializes in locally caught fresh fish and brown sugar brine smoked fish. Their market selection consists of fresh herring, lake trout, whitefish and walleye, as well as flown in coho and king salmon, halibut, tuna, swordfish, king crab, lobster, calamari and more. Stop by for lunch and enjoy a smoked fish wrap, chowder, salad, fish spread or even caviar. Pictured L-R is co-owner Shele Toftey and employees Maddee Young, Elizabeth O’Phelan and Twyla Pedersen. Visit www.docksidefishmarket.com for more info.Breana Roy

Java Moose is the 2015 winner for Best Caffination Station.

Java Moose is the 2015 winner for Best Caffination Station.

Java Moose
Need a pick-me-up? Stop by Java Moose, winner of the Best Caffination Station award. Located in downtown Grand Marais along the shore of Lake Superior, the folks at Java Moose will hook you up with anything from a caramel mocha to plain ole coffee. Also available are smoothies, ice cream, deli sandwiches, soups, cookies, scones and free Wi-Fi. In the summertime, they offer a second location downtown, near the Lake Superior Trading Post. This is the perfect place to get a cold expresso drink and cool off on the beach. Pictured are employees Raynee Wolke, Becca Jorgenson, Matea Acero and Lauren Murray.Breana Roy

Naniboujou won for Best Soups.

Naniboujou is the winner for Best Soups.

Naniboujou
Cynthia Fahrman and Steven Brown display the 2015 Northern Wilds Restaurant Award for Best Soups. In addition to its hallmark French onion soup, the lodge offers two different made-from-scratch soups daily. Perennial favorites are the chicken wild rice and cream cheese tomato soups. Some recipes can be found in the cookbook Dining in the Spirit of Naniboujou: Recipes Collected From Naniboujou Lodge, Grand Marais, Minnesota by Bonnie Swanson.—Shawn Perich

Angry Trout won in three different categories.

Angry Trout won in three different categories.

Angry Trout Cafe
The crew at the Angry Trout Café proudly gather around outside to show off their Restaurant Award for three different Northern Wild categories; Best Salad, Best View and Best Use of Regional Ingredients. This small indoor/outdoor restaurant, located on the Grand Marais Harbor is open from May-October and serves fresh Lake Superior fish, uses locally grown produce and hand-harvested wild rice. Many of their recipes can be found in the cookbook Angry Trout Café Notebook: Friends, Recipes, and the Culture of Sustainability by George Wilkes.—Shawn Perich

The Best Sweets award goes to the Gunflint Mercantile.

Best Sweets goes to the Gunflint Mercantile.

Gunflint Mercantile
Chelsea Lueck, owner of the Gunflint Mercantile, displays her 2015 Northern Wilds Restaurant Award for Best Sweets. The Mercantile, loaded with candy, jams, syrups, coffee and more, also makes fudge from scratch in a multitude of flavors such as cake batter, dark chocolate cayenne, maple bacon, almond joy, red velvet and malted milk ball. You can also purchase gifts in a jar, most of which are cookies, soups and hot chocolate mixes that are pre-mixed and nearly ready for your enjoyment.—Breana Roy

Best Happy Hour award goes to the Cascade Pub.

Best Happy Hour award goes to the Cascade Pub.

Cascade Restaurant Lodge & Pub
Cascade Lodge and Pub co-Owner Maureen O’Phelan holds her Restaurant Award for Best Happy Hour. Cascade Pub, located between Grand Marais and Lutsen on Hwy 61, has a full beer, wine and liquor selection, as well as live music on weekends. Their Happy Hour occurs every day from 3-6 p.m., with $1 off tap beer, wine and rail drinks, and half price appetizers.—Breana Roy

Owner Sara Hingos holds the Crooked Spoon's award for Best Artistic Flare from the Chef.

Owner Sara Hingos holds the award for Best Artistic Flare from the Chef.

The Crooked Spoon
The Crooked Spoon Café, located in downtown Grand Marais, was given the award for Best Artistic Flare from the Chef. Sara Hingos (shown here) and her husband Chef Nathan, opened The Crooked Spoon in 2006, fulfilling a lifelong dream. The Crooked Spoon uses fresh, quality ingredients, therefore the menu changes seasonally. Lunch and dinner options range from spice rubbed spare ribs and a pan roasted pork tenderloin, to cedar planked cauliflower and sweet potato risotto. For more info, visit www.crookedspooncafe.com.Breana Roy

The Pie Place won for

The Pie Place won for Best Baked Goods.

The Pie Place
The Pie Place in Grand Marais was awarded Best Baked Goods and offers a selection of cookies, cakes, desserts, and of course, pies. The pie menu consists of numerous fruit, cream and unique, specialty pies, many of which are available daily and others seasonally. Most pies are available for special order, and the pie crusts and fillings are made from scratch with fresh and frozen fruit. They also offer frozen, unbaked pies for sale. The Pie Place serves breakfast and lunch too. Check out www.thepieplacecafe.com for the full, mouthwatering menu.Breana Roy

Best Steak goes to the Harbor House Grille.

Best Steak goes to the Harbor House Grille.

Harbor House Grille
This year’s Best Steak award goes to Harbor House Grille, in Grand Marais. Harbor House steaks are hand cut, grilled to order over an open flame, and seasoned with their homemade steak butter. Steaks are served with fresh vegetables and topped with anything from sautéed mushrooms to roasted garlic cloves and goat cheese. Harbor House also offers outdoor seating, with a beautiful view of the lighthouse and marina. Visit www.harborhousegrille.com for a full menu.Breana Roy

Lutsen Resort employees present their award for Best Wine.

Lutsen Resort employees present their award for Best Wine.

Lutsen Resort
With over 125 red and white wines to choose from, it’s no surprise that this year’s Best Wine award goes to Lutsen Resort. Wine Spectator magazine also recognized the resort’s extensive wine list with the Award of Excellence in 2014. Make it a date night and wine and dine in the lakeside dining room, which provides a beautiful view of Lake Superior. Or for a more laid back, casual experience, there’s the Poplar River Pub, also located within the resort. Don’t forget to register for the resort’s annual Fall Food and Wine Weekend event, Nov. 13-15. Check out www.lutsenresort.com for a downloadable wine list and more info.Breana Roy

Trail Center won two awards.

Trail Center
Trail Center won two awards, Best North Woods Character and Worth the Drive. Trail Center is located about 30 miles from Grand Marais on Poplar Lake. Originally built as a logging camp in 1938, Trail Center is now a full service restaurant, gas station, gift shop and lodging area. Because it is located up the Gunflint Trail, it is a popular spot to see wildlife, view the fall colors or grab lunch at before heading into the wilderness. Pictured is Sarah Hamilton, owner and operator of Trail Center. For more info, visit www.trailcenterlodge.comBreana Roy

Best Vegetarian award.

Best Vegetarian award goes to the Co-op.

Cook County Whole Foods Co-op
The Co-op in Grand Marais was given the Best Vegetarian award, accepted by Jennifer Stoltz. The new and improved Co-op, which was updated and reopened the summer of 2013, has 2,100 members and is growing. It features local and regional food providers and promotes a healthy and sustainable society. Not only does the Co-op sell groceries, but they also provide occasional cooking classes. Visit www.cookcounty.coop for more info.Breana Roy

Sven & Oles receives Best Take-Out.

Sven & Oles receives Best Take-Out.

Sven & Ole’s
Sven & Ole’s in Grand Marais won the award for Best Take-Out, accepted by Genace Anderson. Sven’s offers all kinds of pizza, from the typical pepperoni or Hawaiian, to vegetarian and their famous Uffda Zah. They also offer breadsticks, pasta, sandwiches and take home frozen pizzas. You can also grab some food and drinks at the Pickle Herring Club bar upstairs. Visit www.svenandoles.com for more details.Breana Roy

Melodee Riddle won the award for Best Server.

Melodee Riddle won the award for Best Server.

Bluewater Café
Bluewater Café, located on the shore of Lake Superior in Grand Marais, won awards in four different categories; Best Burger, Best Kid-Friendly Menu, Best Breakfast and the Best Server Award, given to Melodee Riddle (pictured). Bluewater is casual and affordable, staying true to its slogan, “the meeting place in Grand Marais,” offering lunch and dinner options, and breakfast served all day. The kids menu consists of chicken fingers, grilled cheese, a hamburger or fish. For more details, visit www.bluewatercafe.com.Breana Roy