Northern Wilds Magazine
Whether you are an aficionado of Asian food, or a casual consumer, Lilly’s Asian Café, located in Two Harbors, has lots of choices, including spring rolls. | LILLY’S ASIAN CAFÉ
North Shore Dish

Enjoying Hot Food at Home

For a dining column writer, I don’t eat out much. I have a large family so it gets expensive, and I’m not close to any restaurants and live too far out for most delivery services to bring me food. And sometimes it feels like a lot of work to go into a restaurant, wait, decide what to order, wait, eat, pay, and then go home. I do, of course, have my favorite haunts and enjoy a meal I don’t have to clean up after, but I can also be kind of a homebody. I spend a lot of my time driving between my kids’ activities, and I often do not want to spend what time I do have at a restaurant. But, being such a busy household, sometimes I don’t feel like I have the time to properly cook a meal until my youngest should be in bed.

We can only do pancakes or frozen pizzas for dinner so many times before my 18-year-old tells me it’s time for some real food, so today I’ve got a few options for you to have a hot meal at home that you don’t have to prepare.

Lilly’s Asian Café, Two Harbors

Lilly’s Asian Café sits quaintly along Highway 61 in downtown Two Harbors. Occupying the old Blueberry House, Lilly’s has quickly become a local favorite for its generous portions of authentic Asian food. A stop at Lilly’s Asian Café is a destination for some, and a tradition for others.

Lilly’s strives to serve great-tasting food that is clean and healthy, and they are open about their ingredients, never using MSG. Meals are cooked to order, and Lilly’s strives to meet dietary needs of those who are gluten free or eat a low sodium diet. If you stop at Lilly’s, you know your food will be cooked conscientiously with minimal cooking oil and fillers.

Whether you are an aficionado of Asian food, or a casual consumer, Lilly’s Asian Café has choices. Lilly’s serves take out only, and has an organized and easy-to-navigate website for ordering. Major categories include vegetarian, chow mein, pho, curry, chicken, beef, turmeric and more. Once inside your preferred category, you will find treasures like General Tso’s chicken, shrimp curry, Sichuan tofu, and the pho special, which includes noodle soup with steak, meatballs, and shrimp. If you need authentic Asian catering, Lilly’s can do that too, and they have pre-built packages for 35 or 75 guests on their website, so there are no surprises. No matter what, a trip to Lilly’s Asian Café is sure to leave your taste buds and your belly satisfied.

Pie.ology, Thunder Bay

The motto of pie.ology is simple: Eat More Pie.

Pie.ology is a connoisseur of hand pies. What is a hand pie? Well, it’s something delicious encased in pastry or pie crust. The folks at pie.ology have taken the idea of hand pies to a level I’ve never previously experienced.

Pie.ology maintains a storefront on May Street South in Thunder Bay, where patrons can walk in and purchase ready to go hand pies, but much of their business is done by pre-order. Each week, pie.ology updates their current menu with the pies being offered that week. Customers place their orders, and pick up frozen pies at the store on Friday or Saturday morning at the Thunder Bay Country Market.

Pie.ology in Thunder Bay is a connoisseur of hand pies, with options covering every meal, including dessert. | PIE.OLOGY

Hand pie options at pie.ology cover every meal, as well as dessert. Their breakfast hand pies are stuffed with eggs, cheese, meat (or not), and vegetables. The Huevos Rancheros pie is a perfect breakfast, with eggs, pico de gallo, refried beans, and cheese. Lunch and dinner hand pies are equally delicious and varied. BBQ bacon cheeseburger, the Angry Hawaiian, and spicy mac n’ cheese are just a few of the flavor-filled options, which leaves us with dessert. For dessert, you may want to try a bumbleberry pie with apples, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, or the Mikey’s butterscotch, which is filled with butterscotch pudding. Several of the sweet pies also come vegan.

White Pine Lodge, Grand Marais

White Pine Lodge finds itself nestled along the shore of Poplar Lake in the Superior National Forest, among the twisting lakes and rivers that make up the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The lodge was established in 1936 as Northwoods Lodge, and has served paddlers, travelers, and adventurers for almost a hundred years.

Within the main lodge, you’ll find the White Pine Pub, known for its hand-crafted artisan pizza. In the evening, lodge owner Allison mixes up pizza dough to rise overnight and roll out in the morning, for fresh, flavorful pizza that you won’t forget. You can, of course, come and sit within the lodge and eat your pizza fireside with a drink and a friend, but if you’re feeling like fresh, artisan pizza at home, White Pine Lodge has take-and-bake pizzas as well.

White Pine’s specialty pizzas are reliable favorites. Their Superior Supreme pizza features Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, bell peppers, and black olives, and the big bear buffalo chicken is topped with ranch sauce, buffalo chicken, green onions, and bleu cheese crumbles. They have vegetarian pizzas, and seasonal recipes that rotate through, like this winter’s chickwauk chicken Alfredo. If you decide to dine in, you might finish off your meal with a fireside rootbeer float.

Eating out doesn’t have to mean being away from home. “Take and bake” options like White Pine Pizza and pie.ology mean you can have a meal in your refrigerator or freezer, waiting for a busy or rainy day where you want a home-cooked meal without doing all the home-preparation. And Lilly’s Asian Café provides an option for a hot, ready-to-eat meal that is definitely better than my home cooking. They also are great options that travel well for friends or family who need a hot meal at home.

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