Many, if not most, diners choose the Burntside Lodge (2755 Burntside Lodge Rd., 218/365-3894, www.burntside.com, breakfast 8–10 a.m. Sat.–Sun., dinner 6–10 p.m. nightly, bar opens at 5:30 p.m., $10–23) for dinner because of the fantastic setting—the dining room in the historic main lodge surrounds a fireplace and has excellent lake views—but no one goes home disappointed in the meal. Steak, walleye, and pasta highlight the creative menu, and Burntside is the only seasonal restaurant in the state to earn Wine Spectator magazine’s Award of Excellence.
The deck overlooking Shagawa Lake at the Stony Ridge Café (60 Lakeview Ave., 218/365-6757, 7 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 7 a.m.–noon Sun. May–Sept., $7–16) is where locals go for burgers—all 33 varieties. Get the Elyite—made with a sausage patty.
Yet another great lodge restaurant is the Evergreen (Grand Ely Lodge, 218/365-6565, www.grandelylodge.com, 6 a.m.–10 p.m. daily, $15–20). From a humble burger to a pan-fried walleye filet to a giant surf and turf platter, there’s something here for everyone—except vegetarians.
The Ely Steak House (216 Sheridan St. E., 218/365-7412, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. daily, $4–30), a casual local favorite that’s as well known for their walleye as the steaks, sits downtown at the top of the hill. The menu also includes club sandwiches, shrimp Alfredo, and roasted chicken, and the evenings feature karaoke, trivia, and open-mic jams.
Oriental Orchid (506 Sheridan St. E., 218/365-7502, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Fri., noon–9 p.m. Sat. year-round, 4–8 p.m. Sun. summers only, $6–16) is a better-than-average counter-service Chinese restaurant.
A departure from the usual surf-and-turf, Chocolate Moose (101 Central Ave. N., 218/365-6343, $7–15) attracts crowds who love the chili and the wild rice–crusted walleye. Seats on the tiny porch are great for people-watching but are highly sought after.
Tops for java is Front Porch (343 Sheridan St. E., 218/365-2326, 7 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon. and Wed.–Sat., 7 a.m.–9 p.m. Tues., 7 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun. summer, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. daily rest of year, $3–7), where the coffee, tea, and cocoa are fair trade and organic. They have computers with Internet access and make box lunches for the lake or trail.
The pasties from Zup’s (303 Sheridan St. E., 218/365-3188, www.zups.com, 7 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 7 a.m.–9 p.m. Fri.–Sat., 7 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun.) grocery store make a good BWCAW meal.
© Tim Bewer from Moon Minnesota, 3rd Edition