If you’re looking for a northwoods breakfast before adventuring Cuyuna, North Country Café is your top destination. They serve breakfast all day, plus they’re open early, so you know the grill will be hot and ready for your protein or carb load. We recommend sampling the eggs Benedict or daring to order the 3 stack pancakes. Those pancakes are so big we call them the “cordwood” pancakes.
Patrick and Julie say Red Raven is their Red Dirt Spirit Animal. They must be right because it filled a niche and is just what Cuyuna needed. This full-service, ride-in ride-out bike shop offers bike sales, bicycle service, and mountain bike rental.
But you’ll not only find bike stuff, you can also get breakfast sandwiches, lunch, coffee, and beer at this Crosby MN restaurant (maybe not all at the same time). Menu items include hot or cold sandwiches—think organic ingredients on hearty, whole-grain bread or panini sandwiches—also available as a wrap or gluten-free. Their rice bowls are also quite good, plus coffees/espresso/teas, hot chocolate, lemonade, and smoothies. And after a hot day on the Cuyuna mountain bike trails, check out the Minnesota craft beers on tap or domestic/imports in cans, as well as wine.
Bike repair tune-up prices are on the website, so you can choose what you need à la carte. Bike rentals are scheduled online (with a choice of languages), making it easy to choose your date and pick your ride—fat bike, mid-fat, or mountain bike.
The place where “old friends meet” has really good burgers. They have other menu items, too, but we recommend checking out the burger varieties, along with two or three craft beers on tap. It’s more of a locals’ hangout, but cyclists are always welcome. If you go with your family, just be aware that it is a BAR and grill.
Check out their Facebook page to keep up with events, such as bingo or a meat raffle, rib or burger night, or on- and off-sale specials. Their back patio, just off the alley, is another easy place to park a bike, grab some food and drink, and enjoy a break before heading back to the Cuyuna mountain bike trails.
The Iron Range Eatery is currently the flagship dining destination in Cuyuna. All are welcome—diners, cyclists, hikers, locals, and visitors. Farm-to-table fresh is always on the menu with choices ranging from daily specials (the special has never failed us yet!) to salads, apps, sandwiches and burgers, pizza, ribs—all the way to stuffed walleye or smoked salmon. (And don’t miss the donut platter dessert!) The new outdoor patio (open in 2018) is going to be a huge deal, both now and each summer to follow—an amazingly cool outdoor space that is second to none. Getting a seat on a prime summer weekend could be a challenge at this Crosby MN restaurant. They do take reservations for a table of four or more.
Louie’s Bucket of Bones is authentic BBQ inspired from somewhere quite south of Minnesota, but it is found right here in Cuyuna. It now has new owners, but the recipes and the backyard smoker came along as part of the deal. The indoor space is tiny (about two tables), but there are more tables outside for seating when weather permits. Take-out is another option and calling ahead with an order is recommended. We’ll have a test meal to see if the new Louie’s has the same heart and BBQ soul as the prior Louie’s. More to follow!
More fresh food and drink goodness can be found at Mixed Company, a Crosby MN restaurant. Breakfast, lunch, and kava (Croatian for coffee, a nod to owner Johnna’s heritage). They serve breakfast sandwiches, bagels/pastries, or egg bake; sandwiches/wraps, paninis, and soup for lunch—also gluten-free. Ask if they have any “potica” available (pronounced pah TEET sa), which is a Slovenian sweet pastry with nuts and honey. If you want to eat-on-the-go, order boxed lunches for a trail lunch.
Due to open in spring 2018, Happy Otter is Cuyuna’s first ride-in, ride-out, trail-side pizza destination adjacent to the paved Cuyuna Lakes State Trail, closer to Riverton. And what pizza! Where else can you ride up and savor the tastes of authentic, hand-crafted, wood-fired pizza right on the trails and overlooking another Cuyuna mine lake?
Open 8 a.m.- 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day. If you’re driving a car please park down the trail at the lot on County Rd 128 and Rowe Road.