When visiting the North Shore of Lake Superior, the must-stop restaurant is Betty's Pies in Two Harbors. Opened in 1957 by Betty's father, Aleck, fishermen's demand for great food and sweets led Betty to make donuts and pies and expand the menu as both tourists and locals flocked to the site.
During my first trip to Duluth, MN several years ago, the hotel staff recommended a stop at Betty's Pies on the way to Split Rock Lighthouse, the most photographed lighthouse in the United States. The parking lot was packed as I drove both directions … indicating how popular it is for so many.
I managed to snag a parking spot and walked into a packed house. Diner-style furnishings create the perfect ambiance for this swell hot spot and showcases the tremendous pie and pasties display case.
One of the most extraordinary things on the menu is called a "Polar Pie Shake." They take a slice of pie, drop it in the blender, and blend it with ice cream and milk. The only time I've seen anything like it is Portillo's, the place the comedian Fluffy loves where they put an entire slice of cake in a milkshake. It's ridiculous. And enough to share.
They sell pies whole or by the slice and don't be surprised if you purchase a slice for your meal and then take a pie (or three!) to go. Betty's bakers make more than 43,000 pies a year. That's 258,000 slices! Fortunately for U.S. residents, Betty's Pies now ships within the continental United States.
While I was there in the afternoon, I heard that breakfast here is the best of any diner most people have ever visited. Offering eggs, omelettes, skillets, and platters, the cinnamon fritter French toast is on my future "to try" list. You could even have the avocado toast with a slice of pie for breakfast. It's your holiday, after all, isn't it?
For lunch, the uniquely Minnesotan burger is the agate cheeseburger. Lake Superior Agates were created from lava layering on the land more than a billion years ago through the midcontinent rift and creating air bubble pockets that allowed iron and silica to form these semi-precious gemstones. Once you have the burger, you'll have the strength to go search the dirt roads or beaches for some to take home.
Six burgers, BLT, grilled cheese, Reubens, clubhouse, roast beef melt, are typical diner fare. But the "Devils Track (fried chicken strips) and "Stormy Weather Stacker" (roast turkey) give you a feel of the local flavor. For me, the Great Lakes Blueberry salad with grilled chicken (but no feta cheese) was the lighter version before a slice of French Cherry.