Food & Drink

A town-by-town guide to Minnesota's best bars "Up North"

Published On 07/02/2014 Published On 07/02/2014

If you're not going to see an outdoor movie (or two!) this weekend, it's probably 'cause you're already at the cabin for a few days of boating, campfires, water skiing, fishing, and... um, nothing else, really. Unless you decided to get away from getting away at one of the best booze operations "Up North", which we've helpfully broken down for you by town.

Moonlite Bay Family Restaurant & Bar


Moonlite Bay (address and info)
The hip place to hang on the Whitefish Chain, MB features a killer patio for those beautiful Summer afternoons, and while the food isn’t that exciting, it's OK... Fridays and Saturdays nights are.

Zorbaz (address and info)
Boat up or drive, either way, the Zorbaz in Crosslake is always a good time, thanks in part to a plethora of games, a beach volleyball court, sweet eat/drink deals ($2 tacos & $2.75 domeztic pints all day on Tacoz & Tapz Tuesday), and their absolute refusal to stop replacing "S" with the letter "Z".

Ruttger's Bay Lake Lodge


Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge (address and info)
Not as wild and crazy as Zorbaz, but still a great place to get something to eat and drink after a round of golf, thanks to great views of Bay Lake, and a sweet swimming beach equipped with water trampoline.

Lonesome Pine Restaurant and Bar (address and info)
Don't expect a packed dance floor at this out-of-the-way eat/drink spot on Lake Milaca, where they serve a surprisingly good chophouse menu (filet mignon, Alaskan crab legs, Canadian walleye, etc.) and pour a respectable selection of taps.



Mr. Jim’s (address and info)
This old-school, polished wood-heavy roadhouse on the side of Highway 23 is the best destination for live music this side of, like, Sauk Rapids (!). They've got awesomely greasy pub eats like cheese balls, and sauteed mushroom-topped burgers too.

Shep's on 6th


Shep’s On 6th (address and info)
This sports hang boasts tons of memorabilia and televisions on the walls, a spacious patio outside, and generous drink-slingers behind the bar, making it a fun boozing option in the the Summer, but an even better option in the fall when the Vikings are playing.

Ernies On Gull

Gull Lake

Ernie’s (address and info)
It's got an outdoor drinking space is so big it needs its own menu (complete w/ asparagus fries, walleye fingers, pork belly tacos, etc.), DJs and live music on the weekends, and great drink deals during the week. What’s not to like? And that's before we even mention the view.

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1. Zorbaz 36215 County Rd 66, Cross Lake, MN 56442

Boat up or drive, either way, Zorbaz is always a good time. There're a bunch of locations up North, but Cross Lake is probably the one with the most action. With lots of games, great drink deals, and even a beach volley ball court, it's definitely an awesome spot to meet up with other young folks up North.

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2. Moonlite Bay Family Restaurant & Bar 37627 Co. Rd. 66, Cross Lake, MN 56442

The food isn’t anything too exciting, but it's the place to be in Cross Lake on Fridays and Saturdays. It's also got a killer patio for lazy Summer afternoons or if you're look for a place to escape from the craziness that the lake turns into on the weekends.

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3. Ruttger's Bay Lake Lodge 25039 Tame Fish Lake Rd, Deerwood, MN 56444

This lodge has everything you need when you're up North: a great place to eat and drink, a golf course and beautiful views of Bay Lake. There are three distinct dining options, Ruby’s is more formal, the Bear Pine Bar has handcrafted cocktails, and Zig’s Restaurant has a variety of fresh new menu creations and a full bar with signature cocktails. Plus there's a sweet swimming beach with water trampoline.

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4. Lonesome Pine Restaurant and Bar 13726 Katrine Dr, Deerwood, MN 56444

The Lonesome Pine opened way back in 1936, and in 2002, the Goolsbee family took over. This gem is slightly out of the way, but it's worth a visit for one of the friendliest restos in Minnestota.

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5. Mr. Jim's 840 Highway 23, Foley, MN 56329

Look for great burgers and live musics. Not a bad destination if you’re looking for a little dancing away from the city or something to break up nights of s'mores and bonfires.

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6. Shep's on 6th 315 S 6th St, Brainerd, MN 56401-3537

It's probably ones of the best places for sports fans to enjoy a beer and the game in Brainerd. It's got outdoor seating during the Summer too.

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7. Ernie's On Gull Lake 10424 Squaw Point Rd, East Gull Lake, MN 56401

This family-friendly resto on Gull Lake has patios for the Summer months and TVs to watch the game during the rest of the year. And even better than the DJs on the weekend is the fact that it's right on the water's edge, which means perfect views no matter if you're indoors or out.



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