The Best Juicy Lucy: Did Bon Appétit Get It Right?
Our food critic weighs in on Bon Appétit magazine's ranking of MN's iconic burger
The Jucy Lucy at Matt's Bar in Minneapolis
By TJ Turner
Usually, when Minnesotans talk about Juicy Lucy cheeseburgers, they're debating between Matt's Bar and The 5-8. Who originated this molten-cheese-inside-a-patty burger? And whose is best? (Also, is it "Jucy" or "Juicy"?)
But I admire the approach taken by Alex Delany, an associate web editor at Bon Appétit. He came to the Twin Cities and inhaled nine Juicy Lucys in nine hours, pounding these burgers so that you don't have to—the same way I watched his 17-minute video...so that you don't have to. (Actually, you should watch it; it's pretty fun.)
1) Blue Door Pub: A gorgeous-looking burger. Local writer and eater Liz Welle dubbed it "The Longfellow Legend," asking Alex, "Has a woman ever made you feel this excited in your entire life?"
2) Groveland Tap: A major cheese-splosion. Beautiful sear, nice bun, looks good.
3) The Nook: Former Twins pitcher Glen Perkins joined Alex for some bowling and a delightful Lucy.
4) Peppers & Fries: Cheese on top—and inside. Looks amazing.
5) The 5-8 Bar: One of the originals, although Alex said it had too much bun for the burger.
6) Matt's Bar: Another original, spelled "Jucy" Lucy. Alex ate with butcher Brian Merkel. "I like authenticity," Merkel said. "Matt's is the authentic Jucy Lucy."
7) Hell's Kitchen: Onions, tomato, and lettuce on top of the burger. "Cheese distribution is off, thick band on the outside of beef." Alex did not look pleased.
8) 508 Bar & Restaurant: There's bacon on this one, and it's giant—big bun, big bacon, big burger.
9) Crooked Pint Ale House: Cheese on top, not well-melted. Alex didn't seem thrilled with it.
#3: Groveland Tap. Nice sear, and great vibe with all the tap handles. I've enjoyed the other burgers. Now I want to try the Lucy.
#2: Matt's Bar. "I'm gonna maybe take some heat for this," Alex says, acknowledging that he gets why it's #1 to many. I consider Matt's a must-stop on the Juicy Lucy tour, but I don't think I'd put it in my top three, to be honest. It's good, it's the original—but it's not the best.
#1: The Nook. "I was thinking about that burger for the rest of the day after I ate it." Simple, soft bun. Well-seasoned meat. Super melty cheese. I think Alex was also seduced a bit by the super-cool downstairs bowling alley and the vibe. But I, too, would rate the Nook among my top three.
I would also put Blue Door Pub at the top of my list. But now I'm excited to go try the versions at Peppers & Fries and Groveland Tap. And what about you? Which is your favorite?