Northern Waters Smokehaus – Duluth, MN

Disclaimer: After we leave a restaurant we do our reviews independent of each other and do not read the others until they are going to be posted. So there may be some repeated themes/ideas in our reviews.


I have to admit right away that I love this place. I make sure if I am within 100 miles of Duluth I must go to Northern Water Smokehaus or I will cry, a lot, its not pretty. I have tried most of their sandwiches and have taken home their smoked meats and fish and have never been disappointed.

This trip I went there 3 times over four days, don’t judge me! The first time I tried their current Friday special; the Carolina Pulled Pork sandwich. Now as previously stated I have tried almost everything they make and this blew me away. It was so good, soooo gooooood! It’s sweet and smoky with these spices that I couldn’t really figure out, it’s like a kinda-jerky-spice-rub-thing, aka AWESOME! Since this is a Carolina sandwich the sauce is more vinegar based than people around here are used to but don’t let that dissuade you. The bun and coleslaw they put on top are very good as well, the only gripe you could find with this is they call it pulled but the meat is obviously sliced. But I don’t care I just want another one or twelve!

The next time(I can feel you judging me) I had the Cajun Fin, its House-smoked Cajun salmon, green onion cream cheese, roasted red peppers, pepperoncini and lettuce on stirato. You know how smoked salmon can be kind of dry and oily sometimes, not here, its smoked so perfectly you won’t be able to eat the vacuum packed crap from the grocery store again. The green onion cream cheese, roasted red peppers and pepperoncini’s complement the salmon so well I forgot how much I loathe lettuce on my sandwiches . The stirato roll and all the other breads they use are amazing all on their own and put all the sandwich chains bread to shame, SHAME!

The last one I had (yep, still judging) was the classic Pastrami Mommy. Its bison pastrami, provolone, pepperoncini and lettuce on marble rye with mayo and mustard. I am not a fan of rye bread, I know blasphemy from anyone who loves pastrami, but I don’t let that ruin this sandwich for me. The bison pastrami is milder and less fatty than regular beef pastrami, and it so tender it almost melts in your mouth.  The provolone is good and they put on a more than generous amount of mayo and mustard. If you are a self-proclaimed pastrami lover you must try this sandwich.

I could write ten more pages about why I love this place but no one wants to read that. In closing; go here, buy delicious stuff and thank me later (drops the mic).


From what I hear and what I see both on the menu and being carried out of the place, the smoked fish is what this Northern Waters Smokehaus is best known for. My allergy to fish combined with the fact that all smoked fish to me looks rotten and inedible, keeps me from enjoying what this sandwich shop is all about. From what I hear though, if you’re into smoked fish this is the place to get it.

Being that I’m not that into fish, I decided to give a couple of their other sandwiches a try. First seen on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, I decided to try the Pastrami Mommy. The star of the sandwich is the piled high bison pastrami. I’m a chubby dude with a huge appetite, so quantity is always a plus for me, combined with quality meat this sandwich is a must have.

My favorite sandwich, which is no longer on the menu, is the Choriza. The Choriza is made with house made chorizo, peperoncinis, and cheese on a ciabatta roll, and then toasted in the oven. The crazy thing about them taking it off the menu is that they told me it’s because “they couldn’t keep enough chorizo stocked to keep up with the orders”. My school of logic says to make some more damn chorizo fool and put the thing back on the menu! Thankfully for me, the employee told me that since I was “cool” he would make the sandwich for me. So maybe, just maybe if you’re cool enough, you can get your hands on the Choriza too. Probably not though, I’m just that damn cool.

Northern Waters Smokehaus is still a solid sandwich place even for those of us that aren’t into weird rotting fish…Gross! They smoke them with heads on and everything…Do I look like Andrew Zimmern to you? I’ll stick with the pastrami and chorizo and call it a day. If you’re into smoked fish, the satisfied faces that walk out of there every day don’t lie. Along with their pastrami, their fish must be something special as well.
Northern Waters Smokehaus on Urbanspoon

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4 Responses to Northern Waters Smokehaus – Duluth, MN

  1. Kristi Sauer says:

    The choriza sounds wonderful, they need to keep more in stock!! The bison pastrami also sounds great.
    PS The way your comments are set up makes it difficult to leave a comment unless you login through WordPress, Twitter or Facebook. I would suggest looking into this and making sure to leave comments open to anyone, not just WordPress users (if ya’ll want some comments!). I wanted to use a different e-mail and url below and it won’t let me!!!
    Kristi at

  2. Kristi Sauer says:

    Did you get the first comment I left??

  3. While the Cajun Finn is one of our favorites, I find it hard to pass up the Sitka Sushi sandwich whenever I get the chance to stop by Northern Waters. From their website descriptiono f the Sitka Sushi: Wild Alaskan sockeye gravlax (dry-cured salmon) with cucumber, shredded veggies, pickled ginger, cilantro, chili sauce, and wasabi mayonnaise on a hero roll. A fresh, unique adaptation of Asian and Scandinavian ingredients. And, their smoked salmon paired with a plain saltine is a treat and worth a try — even when you’re not into weird rotting fish!

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