At Havana South Restaurant and Bar, a conga line of authentic Cuban entrees parades out of the kitchen, transporting diners to the Caribbean with dishes such as picadillo a la Cubana and ropa vieja in criolle sauce. The chef draws on his culinary experience to populate the menu with true Cuban cuisine.
Meanwhile, drink enthusiasts can marvel at servers using guava, mango, and passion fruit to brew up refreshing batches of house-made mojitos. The tropical flavor carries over to the eatery's decor as well. A life-size painting of palm trees and domino players on the beach may fool diners into thinking that they're dining on the coast, whereas crimson-hued walls compliment heated salsa nights that are speckled throughout the eatery’s event schedule. Spanish music constantly pours from the speakers, inspiring guests to get up and dance, a practice encouraged by the staff.
The galleys at Joe’s to Goes garner gastronomically satisfied grins by housing a menu of handheld hunger stavers. Like a mom-piloted spoon-airplane, two toasted sesame-seed buns shepherd the half pound of ground beef, plus lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup cargo, inside Joe's original hamburger ($4.99) to eager cuisine landing zones. There is an additional charge for cheese, bacon, and extra toppings. The low-carb half-pound bacon cheeseburger, meanwhile, flavorfies the palate with gooey cheese melted over crispy bacon ($4.69). A troop of thick-cut steak fries shimmering in special seasonings rallies starving stomachs or buttresses burger-based hunger quenching, and a refreshing soft drink washes away all memories of previous meat deprivation and can be used as drinkable ink for napkin notes written with a fry.
Helmed by a brew-happy band of college comrades, Toasted &Tapped dishes up American fare and handcrafted beers in a communal, homespun brewpub. Guests can sample each of the nine beers currently on draft when boarding a beer flight ($7), or bolster biceps with a full glass of the new Rufus the Red Hulk, a hoppy Belgian amber brew that doesn't need to advertise its incredibility ($6).
Cheeky rouses a sizzling flavor fiesta with its fresh menu of made-daily Mexican favorites, signature salsas, and vast drink directory. Diners can sink tortilla chips into one of Cheeky's five vibrant salsas or wield crispy plantain wedges when chomping through an authentic shrimp-and-calamari ceviche ($9) to the rhythm of the Mexican national anthem. Paw-ready sandwiches include a crispy torta asada ($9), and custom-built tacos can be crafted from signature crab-cake fritters, steak, shrimp, and fish ($3). Grumbling bellies are hushed by piping entree plates, such as a shrimp-and-spinach quesadilla ($10) or a poblano pepper stuffed with melted mixed cheese and topped with a cherry tomato sauce ($8+).
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.
In spirit with the olden days of romantic turkey-leg gnawing by firelight, Olde Towne serves up an extensive menu of protein-packed fare, including grilled meats, seafood, burgers, sandwiches, hand-tossed pizzas, gourmet salads, soups, and more. Pique your palate with an order of Chesapeake crab fritters served with roasted red-pepper aioli and wasabi slaw ($9.99); or Cajun chicken nachos, topped with wood-fired chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeños, and a mix of cheeses ($7.99). Jumbo fresh fried chicken wings come doused in your choice of sauce (house specialties include lemon pepper, ranch, and lemon-yaki), served with celery and blue cheese or ranch dressing ($8.99 for 10). Treat your mouth to some wood-fired protein, such as prime rib served au jus with horseradish ($12.99 for 8 oz.), chicken Florentine stuffed with spinach and artichoke dip and topped with sun-dried tomatoes and a demi glaze ($13.99), or seared tuna served with veggies, wasabi slaw, and one additional side ($13.99). To satisfy the mini taste sensors on your fingertips, try a handheld creation such as the Black and Blue Burger (bacon and blue, jack, and cheddar cheeses, $8.50) or patty melt (Swiss and American cheeses and sautéed onions on rye, $8.99), and satisfy creative impulses with a build-your-own pizza topped with your choices from Olde Towne's bevy of meats, veggies, and cheeses (starting at $9.99 for 14").