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Enjoy Seafood in Style in the Land of 10,000 Lakes

By Abbie Burgess

Minnesota may be a landlocked Midwest state, but the local restaurants have far more to off er than hotdish. Delicacies from the sea can be found at these dining establishments in the Twin Cities and beyond. For entertaining clients or hosting an event, these locations are a good catch. 

The Oceanaire Seafood Room

In downtown Minneapolis, The Oceanaire Seafood Room can host events small or large. Private dining in the Barracuda Room can accommodate up to 24 guests. The entire dining room can be rented for a fully private dining experience for up to 293. The Oceanaire is committed to sustainable standards in seafood and the freshest possible fare. The chef-driven menu changes daily and wine stewards are on hand to help guests find the perfect pairing. 

Tavern on Grand

At this St. Paul tavern, it’s all about the walleye. Visitors know they’ve found Tavern on Grand when they see the neon Walleye sign from the street. Inside the cabin-inspired dining room, chefs serve up Minnesota’s state fish in style, grilled, fried or blackened. The restaurant offers a limited menu of five items of the host’s choosing for up to 50 guests in the private banquet room. “Since walleye is what we’re known for, we usually suggest walleye as one of the five, if not two or three,” says Andrew McCallig, manager. Walleye sculptures, antlers and a giant canoe chandelier give the restaurant a laid-back, north woods ambiance.


Located in the Historic Hamm Building, a downtown St. Paul Historic Landmark, Meritage features historical architectural details including a dramatic marble staircase and marble flooring. The large dining room windows look out at St. Peter Street and Landmark Center. The location’s proximity to the Ordway, Rice Park and Xcel Energy Center make it a prime pre-event dinner destination. For larger events of up to 75, the entire restaurant can be bought out on a caseby-case basis. Smaller groups of up to 20 can enjoy cocktail hour at the acclaimed Oyster Bar. “We’ll create a custom menu to suit the needs of the client, from a tasting menu to seated dining,” says Kelly Hansen, assistant director of operations. The menu is heavily inspired by French Brasserie tradition as well as local seasonal specialties. 

Northern Waters Smokehaus

For authentic Great Lakes flavor, head to the shores of Lake Superior for Northern Waters Smokehaus. Wild caught trout from Lake Superior and sustainably raised Atlantic salmon are two specialties at this Duluth catering company. “Because we specialize in sandwiches, we do a lot of business meetings and luncheons,” says Mary Tennis, general manager. “No event is too small for us. In fact, we specialize in small events up to 75 people.” Catering can be delivered in Duluth in as little as an hour and a half—perfect for last-minute meetings. Private dining options are available at the separate restaurant establishment located near the universities. A family table on the main floor can be booked for groups up to 18. On Sunday nights, the entire restaurant can be booked for up to 86. “We actually dry or smoke all the meat and fish ourselves,” says Tennis. “That’s what sets us apart.”

McCormick & Schmick’s

Minnesota is home to two of McCormick & Schmick’s nationwide restaurants. In both downtown Minneapolis and Edina, guests can enjoy a variety of seafood, steak and pasta. With an emphasis on what’s seasonal and fresh, each location’s menu is influenced by its executive chef. At events, a custom menu can be tailored to the guests’ needs (and appetite for seafood). McCormick & Schmick’s prides itself on providing meeting spaces flexible enough for events large and small. “Each location has the ability to section the private dining room to accommodate as few as eight guests,” says Kay Johnson, sales manager. For a standing cocktail reception, the capacity can go as high as 125. For a plated dinner, plan on up to 90 guests.