It’s been six years since I posted my first list of the best riverside dining along the Upper Mississippi River. It’s time for an update, especially since a few places on the first list have closed, and new places have opened.

A reminder about how I select places:

  • the restaurant must have a good view of the river;
  • the food and service have to be good, and
  • the restaurant can’t be part of a national chain.

It’s not hard to find places that meet the first criteria, but many have trouble with the second. Here’s a reminder to restaurant owners that’s just as true now as the first time I wrote it: if you are shooting for a fine dining experience and your servers are all in high school, you should rethink your concept or hire professionals.

The new list still has a mix of places in terms of price and location, so you’ll find bars mixed in with fine dining. My personal favorites (in alphabetic order):

There are many fine bars along the river that serve good bar food. If you know of some that stand out, please drop me a note, and I’ll check it out.

So here’s the list for 2019, with the restaurants in geographic order from north to south.

Douglas Lodge Restaurant; Itasca State Park, Minnesota

Located in the historic 1905-era building at Itasca State Park, the Douglas Lodge Restaurant has great views of Lake Itasca, the source of the Mississippi, and does a solid job with the food, serving local specialties like wild rice and walleye. Open from Memorial Day weekend until late October.

Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge; Minneapolis, Minnesota