MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Dining up north: the Best Bets

In Minnesota lakes country, vacation is too short for a bad meal. Here's where to get a great one between Brainerd and Walker.

Dining in the Brainerd Lakes.

© Grand View Lodge

When you're on vacation, everyone wants to end a perfect day with a perfect meal.

That may mean fancy or casual — a burger in a friendly bar can be just as satisfying as filet mignon and French wine by candlelight.

We wanted to point you in the right direction, so we assembled a panel of local frequent diners, each of whom has eaten at all of the restaurants on or near the top of our list.

We asked them to nominate and rate their favorites based on food, service, hospitality, ambiance and value, and we compiled their ratings to get our final list.

They range from fine dining to cozy burger places, but they all will provide a quality experience.

Here are our Best Bets.

For details about each restaurant, see our three stories about dining in the Brainerd Lakes and beyond: Dining up north: Brainerd to Nisswa, Dining up north: Pequot to Crosslake and Dining up north: Longville to Walker.

Now start eating!

Best Bets overall

  1. The Boulders, Walker
  2. Iven’s on the Bay, Gull Lake
  3. Bar Harbor Supper Club, Gull Lake
  4. Cru, Gull Lake
  5. Lost Lake Lodge, Gull Lake
  6. Prairie Bay, Baxter
  7. The 502, Walker
  8. Bites Grill and Bar, Pine River
  9. Maucieri’s, Crosslake
  10. Norway Ridge, Ideal Township

Best food

  1. The Boulders, Walker
  2. Iven’s on the Bay, Gull Lake
  3. Lost Lake Lodge, Gull Lake
  4. Prairie Bay, Baxter
  5. Bites Grill and Bar, Pine River

Best for a special occasion

  1. Lost Lake Lodge, Gull Lake
  2. Norway Ridge, Ideal Township
  3. Iven’s on the Bay, Gull Lake
  4. The Boulders, Walker

Best value

  1. Bites Grill and Bar, Pine River
  2. Maucieri’s, Crosslake
  3. The Boulders, Walker

Best lakeside decks and patios

  1. Manhattans, Crosslake
  2. The 502, Walker
  3. Bar Harbor, Gull Lake
  4. Ernie’s on Gull, Gull Lake
  5. Moonlite Bay, Crosslake
  6. Zorbaz on Gull, Gull Lake
  7. The Wharf, Crosslake

Good breakfasts (not ranked)

  • The Sawmill Inn, Brainerd
  • Ganley’s, Nisswa
  • Munchies, Breezy Point
  • Pine Peaks Restaurant, Crosslake
  • Pine Peaks Restaurant, Breezy Point
  • The Redbird Café, Longville
  • Cottage Cafe, Pine River
  • Jimmy’s Family Restaurant, Walker

Good pizza (not ranked)

  • Rafferty’s, Brainerd/Nisswa/Crosslake
  • Zorbaz on Gull and Crosslake
  • Tasty Pizza North, Pequot Lakes
  • Lucette's Pizza, Hackensack
  • The Anchorage, Longville
  • Village Square, Walker

Dining up north: Brainerd to Nisswa

  • Northwest Pizza
  • Boardwalk Bread and Bagel
  • Prairie Bay
  • Black Bear Lodge and Saloon
  • The Lodge at Brainerd
  • Jakes City Grill
  • Boathouse at the Quarterdeck
  • Bar Harbor
  • Zorbaz
  • Lost Lake Lodge
  • Cru
  • Sherwood Forest Tavern
  • Ernie’s on Gull
  • Iven’s on the Bay
  • Rafferty’s Pizza

Dining up north: Pequot to Crosslake

Pequot Lakes, Breezy Point, Pine River

  • Bites Grill and Bar
  • Timberjack Smokehouse
  • Mayson’s Grille
  • Pestello’s
  • Lakes Latte
  • Antler’s
  • Billy’s
  • The Commander
  • Primetime
  • Pine Peaks, Breezy Point
  • Munchies
  • Norway Ridge
  • Old Milwaukee
  • A Pine
  • Underdog’s
  • Cottage Cafe
  • JR's #19 Barbecue

Merrifield, Emily and Crosslake

  • The Chap
  • Bobbers
  • McCabe’s Saloon
  • Cedar Chest
  • Maucieri’s
  • Riverside
  • Andy’s
  • Rafferty’s Pizza
  • Zorbaz
  • Moonlite Bay
  • The Wharf
  • Manhattans
  • The Bungalow

Dining up north: Longville to Walker

  • The River House
  • Udom's
  • Patrick’s
  • Common Grounds
  • The Anchorage
  • Fireside
  • Charlie’s Up North
  • The Lucky Moose
  • Village Square
  • The 502
  • Boulders
  • The Ranch House
For more about vacationing in the Brainerd Lakes, see The buzz on Brainerd.

For more about the Walker area, see Fishing in Walker.

Last updated on June 5, 2014