Reasons to Love Minnesota No. 16: Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse

Smoking definitely permitted

Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse, located in the hamlet of Knife River, about 11 minutes south of Two Harbors, is an essential stop when driving the North Shore. The family that runs it has been in the smoking business for four generations. Everything in the shop’s deli case goes through a two-day marathon of salt brine and maple wood smoke, a traditional method that produces moist, meaty slabs of herring, trout, whitefish, and cisco.

Don’t be shy if you’re a first-timer; just ask what’s good and order a little for lunch and a lotta for later. You can tuck in with a plastic fork and a packet of crackers in the frozen-in-time bar and dining hall next door, where both new converts and longtime fans can be found unwrapping their newspaper-sheathed fish—gifts from the gods of almighty Lake Superior—with a zeal usually reserved for Christmas Day.

Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse
149 Scenic Dr., Knife River, MN; 218-834-5995.