Famous for Walleye

​Tavern on Grand

The Restaurant that fed Gorby

The Tavern on Grand has been entertaining guests near and far for more than 30 years. Here we have been able to bring little known traditional Minnesota Northwoods recipes to the masses, especially the local’s favorite walleye. The walleye, Minnesota’s state fish, has been called the best-tasting freshwater fish in North America, if not the world.  The Tavern on Grand has earned a virtually undisputed reputation of preparing the world’s finest walleye, serving more than any restaurant anywhere. We invite you to experience this truly unique regional delicacy.

Tavern on Grand was opened in 1990 by David Wildmo. He was quoted as saying “I come when I can, I go when I have to.” It was his father, Art Wildmo, who was known to say “There is nothing more worthless than one beer.” Decorated with a north woods cabin theme, we pride ourselves in the preparation of Minnesota’s favorite game fish, the Walleye. Walleye is indigenous to the upper Midwest and Canada, and is considered by many to be the world's finest freshwater fish. Commercial fishing of walleye is prohibited in Minnesota, so the walleye served at the Tavern comes primarily from Manitoba.

It has been certified by an independent marketing research firm that the Tavern on Grand serves more walleye than any other restaurant in the world (up to 2,000 pounds per week!).

It was also in 1990 when the then Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was here for a luncheon with Governor Rudy Perpich. Because security would not allow Gorbachev to eat at the Tavern on Grand, our walleye was taken down to the governor’s mansion to be served. The Tavern on Grand has since been recognized as “the restaurant that fed Gorby.” You will find his portrait in the back hallway where his birthmark has been altered to look like the state of Minnesota. The caption reads, “Try the walleye.”

This space was formerly Scanlan’s, and O’Connell’s Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge before that (check out the photo across from the women’s restroom). The log cabin interior featured in the back dining area, and all the murals were hand painted by local artist (and friend of David’s) Bob Bonowitz. There is a mouse painted along the wall of booth 43, but it has since been covered by wainscoting. The hand painted logs encompassed the entire main dining area until the 2008 remodel, done by Wagner and Lang Construction (T.R. Lang, also a friend of David’s).