FOOD! GLORIOUS FOOD! A song from the musical OLIVER

Native son by Charles D Novak

by Charles D Novak
Who doesn’t like to eat? Before I get into my favorite restaurants in Ely I have to tell you about the two years that I worked at Vertin’s as a busboy in the mid-fifties. I was three months away from my 15th birthday. At that time you had to be at least 15 to work in Minnesota.
My dad knew Matt Vertin and took me down to the restaurant. He told me if Matt asked how old I was I was to say 15. I was very nervous about lying after all that was a sin. When Matt asked me how old I was I stuttered “fifteen.” My dad looked at Matt and with a wink and a nod Matt said I had the job.
I was to begin the following Monday at fifty cents an hour. I had no idea how I was going to spend all that money! When I left Vertin’s two years later I was making $1.10 an hour.
When Saturday came I went to confession and told Father Mike I lied. He asked me if I got the job and when I said “yes” he said “ God will forgive you if you put one dollar in the collection basket each Sunday.” I felt reborn.
Ely currently has 17 restaurants. Not bad for a small town. I plan to write about each one in the months to come.
One of the newest is Gator’s (955 E Sheridan St) which is half a block from where I live. Their breakfast burritos are outstanding! You can easily make two meals out of this monster sized breakfast treat.
I also love their turkey avocado melt and their Ruben on Russian Rye bread. If you’re still hungry try the biscuits and gravy. They have a quaint atmosphere with a tiny train that runs on tracks around the ceiling. Very clever.
Also new in town is 2 Gringo’s I love Mexican Food and ate at many of the authentic Mexican restaurants when I lived in San Francisco for 34 years.
Let me tell you Gringo’s is right up there with the best of them! My favorite is the “build your own enchilada.” Be sure to request the Pico De Gallo and the diced onions. The refried beans and rice are outstanding.
If you really want to treat yourself get the Mexican Pizza. To die for! A 13 inch culinary masterpiece! Trust me you will only be able to eat half so take the rest home for the next day.
The service is outstanding! The servers have got to be some of the best in Ely. We happen to be there on football night and when our waiter found out we were fans she kept coming over with the latest scores, Thankfully they don’t have walls full of television screens which compete with conversation.
GEL – Grand Ely Lodge. I have been going there since they first opened. When I came home from San Francisco to visit my parents I stayed there much to the chagrin of my dad who couldn’t understand why I didn’t stay at the house.
It was just nice at the end of the day to go back to my room, relax and stare out the window at beautiful Shagawa Lake.
The dining room has the best eggs Benedict. I have eaten this delight all over the world and you can’t beat what you get at GEL. Their hardy “melt in your mouth” ribs are awesome. The service is always first rate.
My sister Carol and her husband Dave like to dine in the bar. They said you get to meet Ely people while eating and they love the fresh popcorn!
Bob manages the place and when I first met him and told him who I was he said “your father taught me how to bowl!” I looked surprised and said “he never taught me!”
Try the walleye – always tastes freshly caught.
For quick take out if you phone ahead the Oriental Orchid (506 E Sheridan St) features Vietnamese & Chinese Cuisine. They do a fantastic job with their Mongolian hot spicy chicken and the hot and spicy pork with vegetables.
And the best way to get to all these fabulous eating places, if you don’t want to drive, is to take the locally owned Ely Safe Ride. This three year old taxi service was founded and is operated by Nic Jordan. Nic is still in active military service and goes to boot camp once a month in Duluth. He has served two deploys in Afghanistan and has been in combat each time.
Look at it this way – why not support someone who is protecting our way of life. His three charismatic drivers Marge, Dan and Jeremy will take you anywhere in Ely for a couple of bucks and pick you up when you are ready to return home. Give it a try and leave the driving to them!
My mouth has been watering writing this article and thinking about all the excellent eating places we have in Ely. We are so lucky! Bon Appetite!

by Charles D Novak
Who doesn’t like to eat? Before I get into my favorite restaurants in Ely I have to tell you about the two years that I worked at Vertin’s as a busboy in the mid-fifties. I was three months away from my 15th birthday. At that time you had to be at least 15 to work in Minnesota.
My dad knew Matt Vertin and took me down to the restaurant. He told me if Matt asked how old I was I was to say 15. I was very nervous about lying after all that was a sin. When Matt asked me how old I was I stuttered “fifteen.” My dad looked at Matt and with a wink and a nod Matt said I had the job.
I was to begin the following Monday at fifty cents an hour. I had no idea how I was going to spend all that money! When I left Vertin’s two years later I was making $1.10 an hour.
When Saturday came I went to confession and told Father Mike I lied. He asked me if I got the job and when I said “yes” he said “ God will forgive you if you put one dollar in the collection basket each Sunday.” I felt reborn.
Ely currently has 17 restaurants. Not bad for a small town. I plan to write about each one in the months to come.
One of the newest is Gator’s (955 E Sheridan St) which is half a block from where I live. Their breakfast burritos are outstanding! You can easily make two meals out of this monster sized breakfast treat.
I also love their turkey avocado melt and their Ruben on Russian Rye bread. If you’re still hungry try the biscuits and gravy. They have a quaint atmosphere with a tiny train that runs on tracks around the ceiling. Very clever.
Also new in town is 2 Gringo’s I love Mexican Food and ate at many of the authentic Mexican restaurants when I lived in San Francisco for 34 years.
Let me tell you Gringo’s is right up there with the best of them! My favorite is the “build your own enchilada.” Be sure to request the Pico De Gallo and the diced onions. The refried beans and rice are outstanding.
If you really want to treat yourself get the Mexican Pizza. To die for! A 13 inch culinary masterpiece! Trust me you will only be able to eat half so take the rest home for the next day.
The service is outstanding! The servers have got to be some of the best in Ely. We happen to be there on football night and when our waiter found out we were fans she kept coming over with the latest scores, Thankfully they don’t have walls full of television screens which compete with conversation.
GEL – Grand Ely Lodge. I have been going there since they first opened. When I came home from San Francisco to visit my parents I stayed there much to the chagrin of my dad who couldn’t understand why I didn’t stay at the house.
It was just nice at the end of the day to go back to my room, relax and stare out the window at beautiful Shagawa Lake.
The dining room has the best eggs Benedict. I have eaten this delight all over the world and you can’t beat what you get at GEL. Their hardy “melt in your mouth” ribs are awesome. The service is always first rate.
My sister Carol and her husband Dave like to dine in the bar. They said you get to meet Ely people while eating and they love the fresh popcorn!
Bob manages the place and when I first met him and told him who I was he said “your father taught me how to bowl!” I looked surprised and said “he never taught me!”
Try the walleye – always tastes freshly caught.
For quick take out if you phone ahead the Oriental Orchid (506 E Sheridan St) features Vietnamese & Chinese Cuisine. They do a fantastic job with their Mongolian hot spicy chicken and the hot and spicy pork with vegetables.
And the best way to get to all these fabulous eating places, if you don’t want to drive, is to take the locally owned Ely Safe Ride. This three year old taxi service was founded and is operated by Nic Jordan. Nic is still in active military service and goes to boot camp once a month in Duluth. He has served two deploys in Afghanistan and has been in combat each time.
Look at it this way – why not support someone who is protecting our way of life. His three charismatic drivers Marge, Dan and Jeremy will take you anywhere in Ely for a couple of bucks and pick you up when you are ready to return home. Give it a try and leave the driving to them!
My mouth has been watering writing this article and thinking about all the excellent eating places we have in Ely. We are so lucky! Bon Appetite!