I try to avoid chain restaurants, but Grizzly’s Grill, at 1722 Miller Trunk Highway in Duluth, up by the mall, is one exception. Walking in, you are greeted by the warmth of a massive wood-fire grill continually turning chicken on rotisserie rods. Combined with the cherry wood furniture and enticing smell, it’s an inviting experience.
Jennifer Wright has been the general manager for 18 years and she knows how to anticipate and satisfy any culinary needs you may have. She was an asset to our server, who was relatively new, and she also doubles as the bartender.
We started off with cocktails—mine a whisky Manhattan, not too sweet, and his a whisky neat, served alongside a locally handcrafted beer.
Grizzly’s features a line of Minnesota whiskies and bourbons that could rival Jameson. We sampled the “Minnesota 14” and were most pleased. The bourbon is smoky with just a hint of a bite.
Our first appetizer was the Texas Egg roll, crispy and stuffed with pulled pork, cabbage, shredded carrots, and barbecue sauce, served with a tangy chipotle and honey mustard on the side. I can reveal that the leftovers make an incredible midnight snack.
For our second appetizer, we chose the Grizzly Potato Skins, topped with cheddar and jack cheeses, bacon, and seasoned sour cream. The skins are neither oily nor overcooked. What can I say? Sometimes you just want good bar food.
For lunch, I chose the Honey Basil Chicken Sandwich. This entrée is a dime a dozen, but at Grizzly’s, it’s that rotisserie chicken you smelled when you walked in, topped with fresh basil pesto, grilled tomatoes, mozzarella and cheddar, on toasted ciabatta.
I am not a fan of ciabatta. It’s starchy and detracts from its filling, but Grizzly’s is cut thinly enough to avoid this, while adding some desired texture.
My husband ordered the Fish Tacos, which have become a cliché. Is there any restaurant these days that does not have fish tacos on the menu?
They’re tilapia fillets that can be ordered deep-fried or blackened (we opted for the latter), served with lettuce, green onion, sautéed cabbage, mozzarella, and fresh pico de gallo...all wrapped in a flour tortilla.
Traditional Mexican fish tacos come in a corn tortilla, and I wish Northland restaurants would see the beauty of this. Flour tortillas don’t fry to a proper crisp and suck the flavor right out of the dish. Not to mention the superior health benefits of corn tortillas.
Nevertheless, Grizzly’s is a welcome island in a sea of Panera, Chipotle, Noodles & Company, and Applebee’s, which used to be pretty good until they started over-relying on the microwave. So, if, like me, you dread Miller Trunk Highway, take a break from the chaos for fine cocktails and well-done bar food.
Annie Walchuk is a born and raised Duluthian whose thirst for adventure led her to writing. She is a cook and baker, who spent over 20 years as a restaurateur, including a stint at the Northern Grounds Café in Ely. She also oversaw operations for a catering company and bistro on the edge of the Boundary Waters.