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Ryden's Cafe - Grand Portage, MN

On our last "summer vacation" trip in early August we traveled all the way up Highway 61 in northeast Minnesota to Grand Portage, MN. I grew up here on the shores of Lake Superior and was so excited to escape the hellish heat for the cool lake breeze. Except it was hotter up there than it was in central Iowa. Go figure.

There are a lot of great places to eat on your way up the North Shore, but the last place to eat before you hit the Canadian border is also one of my favorites - Ryden's.

The locals just call it "the border," but Ryden's has been in business for 64 years and the place is constantly busy. Back in the day they used to have some wild ass dances at the bar here, but now it's a huge souvenir shop, duty free store, cafe and motel - and the place for you to exchange that American currency for some loonies before you head into Canada.

I've been coming up to the cafe at Ryden's for as long as I can remember. My Grama used to drive us from our village on Grand Portage Reservation up to the border for ice cream cones. They have awesome ice cream.

The decor isn't much to look at - well, except for that huge mural depicting the drive along Lake Superior and a view of the Susie Islands. If you look closely you can see my sister-in-law Loribelle (not her real name - although she IS from Virginia) in the red shirt and blue ballcap. She was helping out in the kitchen and is an excellent cook.

Ryden's cafe is a breakfast and lunch place and they list their specials up on a white board every day. Grant went with this beauty - chicken fried steak and eggs. A huge chicken fried steak served with a pile of hash browns all covered with country gravy.

Even though it was only 10:30am, I just had to have the only thing I ever really order at the border - a fishburger basket! Freshly caught Lake Superior herring, lightly dusted in cornmeal and deep fried to a crispy golden brown. Served with fries and coleslaw, it's about the best thing ever. If you've never had fresh fish from the lake, you're so missing out. I grew up eating herring, lake trout and whitefish and although I love the fresh seafood we have in Iowa - it's just not the same as eating fish that was swimming around that morning.

Sooooo good.

Fully stuffed from our lunch at the cafe, we had to take a few minutes to wander around the souvenir shop. This bear is always there, dressed up to suit the season. I see he's got his Smokey the Bear get up going on with his fishing pole and... is that a flask? Way to go, bear!

Here's what the goofy bear looked like last July 4th. He's one crazy bear.

So, if you should find yourself at the very tip of northeastern MN, a scant half mile from the US/Canadian border, be sure to stop in at Ryden's cafe. The food is great, and the fish is always fresh. Plus, they have giant pencils that say Canada on them for your shopping enjoyment.

Ryden's Border Store

9301 Ryden Rd.
Grand Portage, MN  55605



If you're looking for a great place to stay in Grand Portage, the Lake Superior Band of Ojibwe have a very nice hotel/casino -  www.grandportage.com.

Anyone else ever been to Ryden's? Let us know about it in the comments!

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Reader Comments (1)

Thanks for the shout out for the Grand Portage Lodge & Casino! Your brother certainly appreciates it. You could have mentioned how fabulous the seafood buffet was on Friday night. Oh well, we'll take what we can get. We follow your blog every post, hoping we'll get to some of the great places on our next visit to heaven.

Aug 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTod

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