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Red Mug Coffee House Superior, WI
The Red Mug Coffee House is located in the garden level of an 1890
historical record building
on Hammond Avenue in Superior, Wisconsin

More Hometown Favorites - Superior, Wisconsin
Pubs, Pizza, and Gourmet Coffee

Previously we profiled Gronks, Anchor Bar, and Shamrock Bar & Pizza Parlour, popular Superior hangouts for burgers and pizza. Here we continue our "cultural tour" of interesting hometown attractions in Superior.

Our first stop was at the Thirsty Pagan Brewery, a brewpub that succeeded the old Twin Ports Brewery in 2006. The building is a former creamery and became a brewery in 1999. Yet the interior, including some old time beer murals on the walls, give the appearance the pub had been operational for sixty years or more. An interesting factoid we discovered after our visit was that Twin Ports Brewing began at the Choo Choo Pub & Grill, another Superior hometown favorite we are profiling here.

Two blocks away from the Thirsty Pagan (at the corner of Broadway & Tower Avenues) is the Red Mug Coffee House (at the corner of Broadway & Hammond avenues. Like the Thirsty Pagan, the interior of the Red Mug is eclectic and gives the appearance the operation has been at this location forever. While quality coffee and expresso is their signature offering, the Red Mug serves a decent breakfast and lunch menu of pasties, cereal, soups, sandwiches, and salads. A selection of craft brews and wine is also available. Music and an art gallery add interest and atmosphere.

A more recent candidate for best burgers in Superior is the Shack Smokehouse & Grill. Our first sample of their standard burger passed the test. We look forward to returning to try some of their specialty burgers. See our review near the bottom of this page.


Thirsty Pagan Brewery

Thirsty Pagan Brewing Company
In an old brick building at the corner of Broadway and Tower*, on the outside the Thirsty Pagan looks like an ordinary neighborhood bar and easy to miss. > > >

Thirsty Pagan Brewery
< < < Antique signs from Wisconsin and Minnesota's great breweries of the past line the walls of the main bar. Nine Pagan brews are on tap - four varieties year round and five rotating seasonal brews. 64 oz growlers are available for carry-out. We had their house pours. Jo had the Burntwood Black, a tasty, malty black ale that to our palates tasted like a Porter. I had the Gitchee Gummi Gold, a light colored brew that suprised me with its character, tasted more substantial than it looked.

Thirsty Pagan Pizza

< < < In addition to its excellent micro-brews, Thirsty Pagan is known to serve among the best pizzas in the Twin Ports area. It is a nice, goopy, Chicago style deep dish pizza served hot at your table on an unique bottle cork insulated serving tray (see picture). We had the TBS (Thirsty Pagan Special) which is essentially pizza with the works: pepperoni and italian sausage plus onions, green peppers, mushrooms, cheese and sauce. Jo felt the crust wasn't as thick as other Chicago style pan pizza's . . . a fact she liked. Very good and quite filling. We had left overs from a 13 inch pizza. Thisty Pagen's Pizza fits nicely between the pie of Supreme and that of Gronks. Shamrock's pizza is greasy good with a soft crust requiring utensils to eat. Gronks' pizza is a thin, hard crust with veggies done just right and easy to eat by the slice.

Thirsty Pagan Music

The Pagan's main pub room has a corner bandstand for local musicians. On this day, most people were engrossed in conversations and enjoying their pizzas and brews, with the music very much in the background. Can be a tough gig for a musician who is used to be the center of attention.

Recently we've discovered The Duluth Experience Tour Company offers Brewery Tours of the Thirsty Pagan and four other local craft breweries.

*The Thirsty Pagan is Now located in the old Soo Line Depot, 1615 Winter St

Red Mug Coffee House

Red Mug Coffee House & Cafe
Customers lined up for gourmet coffee, scones, and other breakfast pastries at the Red Mug service counter.
Jo had their Date Walnut scone and I had a bowl of their homemade granola with a generous serving of blueberries. We both had dark roast coffee (from organically grown beans and locally roasted).

Although we were there for breakfast, I gather the Mug is a popular lunch spot too. The menu featured a number of tasty sounding sandwiches and wraps, some with panini bread, and soups and salads as well. Lots of organic, whole grain, fresh veggie, goat cheese, "green" this and that, clearly marking the place as a politically and nutritionally correct establishment, yet it also had very welcoming neighborhood feel to it. The art on the walls and the adjacent gallery plus a regular music calender featuring folk and jazz completes the quintessential Coffee House atmopshere.

Red Mug Coffee House & CafeWhile a number of customers were ordering carry-out, there's lots of space inside with a choice of oak tables with mismatched but comfortable chairs, stools at a bar suitable for laptops, and comfortable stuffed chairs & sofas. The layout invites people to stay a while and enjoy the ambience as well as food and drinks. The Red Mug also offers free Wi-Fi as well as two Internet terminals for the use of customers. We found this handy and a safer and speedier connection than what we have experienced at chain restaurants like McDonalds. This is also a small outdoor cafe area.

Choo Choo Bar & Grill

Choo Choo Bar & Grilll
Only about two blocks from Gronks on the other side of the street (Hwy 53 & US2) is a bar built from a caboose, a rail passenger car, and what looks like the remnants of an old railway freight station. Aptly named the Choo Choo Bar & Grill. Perhaps beause the outside was clearly showing its age, I was expecting a somewhat rugged interior. But it was very bright, clean, gleeming chrome and glass, and knotty pine paneling throughout. Inside it looked like a very well maintained northwoods resort bar and dining room.

Choo Choo Bar & Grilll
If you look close at the interior you can see elements of its former life as a railway car. In addition to its unique architecture, the Choo Choo is known locally for its friendly hospitality, burgers, pizza and its Friday fish fry. A fun stop and just a hop, skip and a jump across the street to Gronks so you can stop at two unique Superior watering holes and eateries in one visit.


The Shack

The Shack Smokehouse Restaurant
I read about The Shack in Google+ reviews where some folks thought they had great burgers, good prices, and a comfortable homey old time atmosphere. So we thought we have to find out for ourselves - do we add it to our lsit of Great Burger places in Superior, Wisconsin. We found it on north Belknap street a few blocks past the turn-off to the Bong Bridge. In the picture Jo is looking over the menu. Note the big padded booths

Jo ordered the standard burger with lettuce, tomatoes, and raw onions. She elected the side salad for 99 cents more instead of the standard fries. I decided to try their Friday Fish Fry. The burger held its own against the best of the Anchor Bar and Gronks. The burger was nice and meaty, grilled properly, with generous portions of trimmings. The side salad was quite large, crisp, with a decent variety of vegatables. My fish fry had two large cod fillets and not overly breaded. The fries were lightly cooked, tasted more like mashed potatoes. Like the burgers, my side of cole slaw seemed homemade vs. mass-produced, with chopped regular and purple cabbage and just the right amount of dressing. By the way although they have a decent selection of burgers, there is a broad variety of entres similar to what you'd find in a supper club.

My only complaint about The Shack was their usual decent-sized beer menu was quite abbreviated. The bar is being remodeled and apparently they are short on cooler space. But the Grain Belt I had, after finding out my first four choices were not available, was a decent brew. Our friendly wait staffer, Trudy, told us she has been working there for 32 years. That lines up with it being a family run restaurant with a strong local following.


More Burger & Pizza Bars + Interesting Places to Do & See in Superior, Wisconsin

Gronk's Bar and GrillShamrock Bar & Pizza Superior, WI

. . . Great Burgers, Pizza and Brews at
Gronks, Anchor Bar & Shamrock.

redtriSee our Reviews of Best Burgers in Duluth. We crossed the bridge into Duluth and began our search for great burger places and found two good ones. There are a few more we've heard about so our work is not done!


Directory & Links to Superior Wisconsin's Hidden Gems

More Superior, Wi Visitor & Travel Information

Superior, Wisconsin Camping

  • Pattison State Park
    State's highest waterfall, nature center, 9 miles of hiking trails, 59 campsites, RV (18 electric hookups & dump station) and tent camping (showers and flush toilets in summer)
  • Amincon Falls State Park
    Waterfalls, hiking, picnic area, tent camping . Camp sites mostly rustic, but well spaced and laid out.
  • Brule River State Forest
    Rustic tent camping, canoe camping, trout fishing. - Reinhold Development - 2023 Mobile-Friendly Lake Superior Circle Tour Travel Planner

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