Dan Vallish has been homebrewing beer as a hobby for more than 20 years. During that time, he often envisioned the perfect place to shop for his supplies. It would have all the specialty grains one could want, an onsite milling facility, and fresh yeast and hops. Ultimately, he made that vision a reality, founding Barley & Vine to be a one-stop shop for beer lovers and beer brewers, complete with a 27-tap growler bar with 26 craft beers and a cider on tap at all times.
Of course, Dan offers more than just disparate beer-brewing supplies. He teaches classes on the subject, or provides cloning kits for beginners, which contain all the ingredients to mimic Irish stouts or American pale ales. He also provides winemaking kits, which produce 6 gallons of fermented libations at a time. He even offers instructions and supplies to make cheese, so that his customers can pair their homemade beverages with the perfect snack.
Carrying the praises of OpenTable diners as the winner of Best Overall restaurant, Best Ambiance, and Best Food, Park Café's executive chef Michael Ganley is no stranger to success. He has honed his skills in the kitchen for more than 17 years, most recently as Executive Chef of The Ritz Carlton in Dearborn, Michigan. Arriving in Duluth in 2004, Ganley brought with him his years of experience perfecting European culinary techniques, crafting a menu of elegant twists on Southern favorites such as fried green tomatoes layered with slabs of warm, creamy brie.
Nestled inside the Knox House—originally erected in 1899 for the first Mayor of Duluth, John Knox—Park Café's refurbished interior remains true to the home's 19th-century character. Largely original hardwood floors and paneled walls lend a quaint charm to the romantic simplicity of the dining rooms, where tables draped in crisp linen glow beneath flickering candles and diners’ recently whitened teeth.
Formerly known as Chocolate Perks, 45 On Main now has its own sweet reputation in the Duluth community. The staff brews coffee and espresso drinks, makes fresh sandwiches, and bakes desserts to satisfy sweet teeth that draw up picket lines across the tongue when they don’t get enough sugar. The eatery also curates wine tastings for guests, sometimes pairing its pours with cheeses or other complementary snacks.
At the summit of Mount Yonah, hikers bask in the dying sunlight and soak up views of verdant foothills that span the horizon. Before the sun dips below the peaks, they meander back down the craggy trail toward Habersham Vineyard, where they can toast to a wholesome day of hiking. This scenic hike is one of dozens of possible routes led by Skywater Georgia Wine Hiking’s knowledgeable guides. They draw upon their knowledge of the region to showcase the best trails and wineries during daylong tours. Based on each group’s fitness level, interest, and ability to tolerate photo-bombing sasquatches, guides can plan easy-going three-hour hikes around Victoria Bryant State Park, or embark instead on a 10-hour journey up the steep foothills of Standing Indian. Regardless of the tour route, guides take time to point out local flora and fauna, and energize groups’ with a light lunch.
San Francisco Coffee Company beans are roasted fresh every morning and brewed throughout the day at 45 South Cafe, enhancing the aromas of the lattes and mochas complementing a menu filled with light breakfasts and lunches. Sun-dried-tomato wraps envelop breakfast burritos, and handmade maple-ginger granola dapples bowls of organic yogurt and fresh fruit. As the sun reaches its zenith, panini presses melt swiss and cheddar cheeses in monte cristo sandwiches, preempting desserts and other treats served all day.
The café invites the local community to relax and socialize amid its art-laden exposed-brick walls, whether for book-club meetings, children's story time on Wednesday mornings, or monthly wine tastings, prompting Norcross Patch to dub it the Best Coffee Shop in 2012. Within those inspiring confines, local musicians let loose on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, inspiring sing-alongs and dreams of one day being a roadie. The shop further supports the local community by donating a portion of its profits to the Summerour Middle School Foundation.
L’Thai Organic Cuisine & Wine Bar's menu lists organic Thai dishes including curries made with vegetarian-friendly sauces and noodles and fried rice prepared on special high-heat jet stoves that can be found on the streets of Bangkok. Appetizers, such as the vegetarian-style spring rolls ($4.95), and soups, such as the coconut-based tom kha ($4.95), lull appetites into a false sense of security before entrees, such as the garlic pepper beef ($12.95) or tippling drunken noodle tofu ($12.95), sneak in to deliver the culinary coup de grâce. Diners can supplement their smorgasbord with L'Thai Organic Cuisine & Wine Bar’s extensive beer and wine list, which overflows with fine fruit bloods such as Night Harvest chardonnay ($7/glass, $23/bottle) and Silver Ridge cabernet sauvignon ($7/glass, $24/bottle).