The sound of fire. The igniting exhalation before the steady breath of the flame sustains. The heat pulsing steadily outward from the steel grill—you feel it on your glowing face. But the chef looks cool. He’s a master, after all; a flat, metal spatula in one hand and an enormous, sharp knife in the other. Kani House’s teppanyaki tables are no strangers to the action of hibachi, where these chefs entertain their guests before plating seared steak and scallops alongside fresh, sautéed vegetables. The steady sushi masters may not share their compatriots’ outward exuberance, but their work is just as delicious. From behind their long bar, they assemble maki cylinders with tender cuts of fatty tuna and bright salmon, artfully arranging cuts of more than 50 specialty rolls in the shape of gentle caterpillars or fearsome members of the Japanese Diet. Bright bamboo panels and natural stone add to the vibrant ambiance, surrounding diners with dark-wood and nuanced accents that keep the focus on the beauty of excellent cuisine.
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.
Amidst Bella’s 15,000 square feet of dance floors and VIP booths, a triad of marble, granite, and hardwood accents fills out the lounge’s two-story facility. Throughout the night, a sound system blasts house beats as lights dance to the rhythms of The Nutcracker Suite stuck in patrons’ heads. At the elevated VIP area, a private bar and bottle service keep drinks within reach at all times, and a rooftop patio offers an oasis from the party below with a separate sound system, LCD TVs, and fireplaces.
Sweet Tomatoes silences grousing stomachs by serving up a buffet of healthy eats, allowing guests to collate a customized meal from daily selections of soup, salad, baked goods, and pasta. Upon entering the restaurant, cavernous appetites will find a 55-foot-long salad bar holding welcoming portions of verdant salad greens, including tossed varieties such as Wonton Chicken Happiness and caesar asiago, unlimited vegetables, and toppings. After anointing vacant plates with gardeny sculptures of Aristotle, guests will purchase their meal ($8.59/lunch, $9.99/dinner) and then roam to one of Sweet Tomatoes' other food bars.
Slow-grilled all-beef hot dogs, house-made condiments, and fresh baked buns abound at this hot-dog haven tucked into the North Hills Shopping Center. Top Dog's four-page menu exhibits the restaurant's enthusiasm for naturally-encased meats organized according to flavorful regions of America. Laud local fare by biting into the Georgia Dog ($4.95), a spicy jumbo red hot topped with chow chow, spicy chili, house-made pimento cheese, and cole slaw. Top Dog's southern-style onion rings with Cajun dipping sauce ($3.50) make palate pals with strangers' sausages, such as the NY Deli Dog wrapped in swiss, horseradish mustard, sauerkraut, and hot pastrami ($6.75), or the Cubs Dog topped with mustard, relish, onion, cucumber sport peppers, tomato, pickle, and celery salt ($3.75). Creative customers can cover up naked dogs ($2.65–$4.50) with bakery-style bolillo buns and their choice of more than 40 different toppings, sheltering them from confusion caused by lookalike links and the baton-snatching hands of passing relay racers.
Long hailed for a mastery of ham far beyond the skills of mere mortal meat cookers, the meat mavens at HoneyBaked Ham invite you to put their newly honed turkey skills to the test with today's Groupon: a whole roasted turkey breast for $12 (an up to $25 value). Get your moist turkey breast unadulterated, or let the HoneyBaked masters finish your bird with crackling sweet glaze, which may or may not be cooled by having volunteer glaze-pixies fan it with their wings. Call one of HoneyBaked's participating locations (found here and in the sidebar to the right) to reserve your order, and pick up your juicy bird.