Well Done: Minnesota’s Best Burgers, 2024

Smash burgers, Juicy Lucys, chef-created concoctions—these Minnesota burgers are our favorites

There was a time when a chef-created burger was a big deal. The Vincent Burger with short rib in the mix by chef Vincent Francoual was groundbreaking in 2014. It was a Frenchman’s take on Minnesota’s iconic Juicy Lucy. And the Parlour-versus-Revival burger debate is almost a decade old now as well. Alas, almost every new restaurant has some version of a smash burger on the menu. Why? Simple math: For every adventurous eater willing to try sweetbreads or sushi, there are at least three others who will go for the burger, thank you. But there is innovation and love behind the unique meat grinds, joyously drippy cheese blends, and perfectly seared caramelized edges. I tend to enjoy a burger as an appetizer, although some of these are so decadent, they might fit better as dessert. However you enjoy your patties, there may be no better time to be a burger-eater in Minnesota. Here are my current favorites.


Photo by Isabel Subtil / Food Styling by Lara Miklasevics


Two quarter-pound patties, Cooper’s American cheese, French brioche bread, plus fries, $18

The cheese is the star of the burger at Kamal Mohamed’s STEPCHLD in Minneapolis. Mohamed uses Cooper cheese, which he discovered while eating at a bodega when he was living in Harlem. “I like to say that it’s American cheese that doesn’t taste like plastic and grew up a bit from the Kraft days. Also, it has the perfect melt that lays down on the meat like a heavy blanket on a winter’s night,” Mohamed says.

The Cooper Burger uses Minnesota beef, Fellers Ranch Wagyu, and has homemade pickles and a dollop of heat from a chipotle mayo. STEPCHLD has global flavors and Ethiopian influences, but this burger is an homage to his college days in St. Paul. “I’ve always liked burgers—but I fell in love with them at Blue Door Pub when I was a student at St. Thomas [University]. Seeing those guys make an entire restaurant just out of burgers was awesome,” he says.

For $18, the restaurant’s best-selling item includes thin, crispy garlic fries. “I didn’t know that [the Cooper Burger] would be our [Minnesota Timberwolves star] Anthony Edwards. At most, I was expecting it to be a role player, but it’s usually our leading scorer every night,” Mohamed laughs.

24 University Ave. NE, No. 100, Minneapolis, stepchld.com

Lake & Irving
Lake & Irving

Photo by Isabel Subtil / Food Styling by Lara Miklasevics

Lake & Irving

Two quarter-pound patties of Pat LaFrieda beef, white American cheese, black truffle and Hudson Valley foie gras butter, shallot aioli, brioche bun, plus fries with truffle salt, $22

The $22 Luxe Burger, with beautiful beef from legendary New York butcher Pat LaFrieda, plus intense umami from black-truffle-and-foie-gras compound butter, was a bit of a surprise from the neighborhood classic Lake & Irving. “We wanted to create a unique burger that wasn’t trying to be kitschy,” chef and owner Chris Ikeda says. “We were not trying to create a ‘super rodeo flameburger’ topped with guac and an onion ring. [This is] something truly special that actually tasted great and fit the vibe.”

The beef is 80% ground chuck and 20% short rib, and the burger is decadent and rich and consistent. “We are borderline psychotic about that,” Ikeda says. “Our plancha [flat-top grill] can reach temperatures over 700 degrees, which allows for a next-level sear.” If you’re not into truffle flavor, the original Lake & Irving Burger is also fabulous. In all, the restaurant buys about 20,000 pounds of ground beef a year.

And don’t forget about the toasted brioche bun that provides a solid foundation for all that beefy goodness. “I’m not the Gordon Ramsay type of chef, but our team knows how important the toast is. I’ve been known to send a burger back for refire multiple times because the toast was incorrect or the top was not toasted. It may seem trivial to some, but it’s important to treat the bun with respect,” he says.

1513 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, lakeandirving.com


Photo by Isabel Subtil / Food Styling by Lara Miklasevics


Two quarter-pound patties, ground chuck/ribeye/brisket, white American cheese, egg bun, $18

It’s hard to believe that when Parlour opened in 2012, there was no Parlour Burger on the menu. One of the early double-patty smashburgers, the Parlour Burger was created out of rage, frustration, and inebriation. Bar manager Jesse Held kept complaining to the Borough chefs upstairs that his downstairs cocktail guests were getting blitzed because there wasn’t any real food. “After about the 20th time of Jesse asking Joe [Rolle, executive chef], Joe said, ‘Fine, I’m gonna make you a burger, so you can shut up about it,’” laughs Jester Concepts owner Brent Frederick. 

The meat mix is decadent, with brisket, ribeye, and chuck steak. Butter is paddled in. The record is selling 398 in one night. “We can fail it a million different ways,” Frederick admits. Maybe the griddle’s too hot, so it burns; or too cool, and the edges aren’t caramelized; or the saltshaker is too aggressive, so it’s a salt bomb; or too timid, so it’s flavorless.

“The making of the burger is not the tough part,” Frederick explains. “The real art of it is the chef who’s making it that night.”

730 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis; 267 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; various stadiums, parlourbar.com

King's Place Bar and Grill
King’s Place Bar and Grill

Photo by Isabel Subtil / Food Styling by Lara Miklasevics

King’s Place Bar and Grill

Burgers and prices vary

There’s a reason generations of Minnesotans have made the pilgrimage to the small southern Minnesota town of Miesville: King’s Place Bar and Grill. After 40 years in business, three generations of Greenlees have operated the popular spot. “When we bought King’s, there were only five to six burgers on our menu. Now, we have over 100,” says owner Terri Greenlee Ryan. 

They hand-patty ground beef two or three times a day, slice the tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers, and use fresh bakery buns from Red Wing’s Hanisch Bakery. Why 100 burgers? “We built our burger menu by asking our customers and friends what [their] favorite things to eat are, and then we would combine different ingredients together,” Ryan says. “The menu became so much fun for our staff and customers.”

There’s a Minnesota burger that resembles tater tot hot dish and a peanut-butter-and-jelly burger. The prices are crazy, too—in the $10 to $12 range, served with chips. “We truly want everyone to be able to enjoy a meal at a reasonable price,” Ryan says.

14460 240th St. E., Miesville, kingsplacebar.com


Photo by Isabel Subtil / Food Styling by Lara Miklasevics


Patty, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, ALT sauce, pickle, bun, $14 (includes tip)

No, ALTBurger will not tell you the exact recipe of its plant-based alternative burger. And no, it would rather not call it plant-based. “I’ve been making it at home for over a decade,” says chef and co-owner Derik Moran. He had three decades of fine-dining experience before he and his old friend from downtown Minneapolis’ Dakota restaurant, Martina Priadka, opened ALTBurger in Northeast in 2023. His goal: “How do you make vegetarian food creatively and have the majority appreciate it?” That delicious not-burger? “It’s proprietary. It’s trademarked. The goal is to hopefully expand.” Moran would tell me there are 27 ingredients in the patty, including ancient grains like red quinoa, chickpeas, roasted vegetables, and herbs—but no soy. It’s also not lab-created.

“What you normally don’t get from vegetarian food is sandwiches,” he says. “I wanted it to be somewhat gluttonous, too. I want you to feel like you’re getting that Philly cheesesteak [and to] serve something that people don’t normally see.” It’s not vegan—there are eggs and cheese all over the menu—and Moran has added a beef burger, because “we were turning away 50 people a week.” Still, that alternative burger is delicious, with nice texture, and packed with flavor. It’s something this carnivore finds craveable.

“Northeast Minneapolis has lots of artists and musicians, and we knew that crowd would love it,” Moran says. “But when I have construction workers come in and try it, it’s been great.” 

337 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis, altburgermpls.com

Saint Dinette
Saint Dinette

Photo by Isabel Subtil / Food Styling by Lara Miklasevics

Saint Dinette

Two quarter-pound beef patties on a brioche bun with a house cheese blend (made with a hint of cava), $17

Saint Dinette is where I developed my signature burger move: Order it as an appetizer for the table, split it into four pieces and then know you’re only having an eighth-pounder. Owner Tim Niver and opening chef Adam Lerner (who is now with Red Cow and Red Rabbit) were inspired by Au Cheval’s burger in Chicago. Bon Appetit called it “just about perfect” in 2012. “Our burger is special because of the simplicity,” Niver explains—“burger, cheese, bun, no hiding behind sauces or add-ons.”

Saint Dinette’s burger was an instant hit in 2015, but the recipe and the beef have changed a number of times. “Prices and quality make that necessary sometimes,” Niver says, noting they’re buying Eden Valley Wagyu from near St. Cloud. “While we used to dry-age everything, this Wagyu has enough funk on its own,” he says. The luxurious texture comes from 12% butter added to the mix.  

“On busy days, we can sell 150 burgers, easy,” Niver says. Still, he rejects “the idea that Saint Dinette is a burger restaurant, now or ever”—a lament shared by many restaurant owners who’ve developed cult burgers. “I do not care what you come to Dinette for. If it’s the burger, god bless you. If you decide to try anything else on our menu, it’s still a win-win.”

261 Fifth St. E., St. Paul, saintdinette.com

Best Burgers by Category

Burgers You Have To Work For (Food Trucks/Pop-Up Restaurants)

Angry Line Cook Food Truck

Animales Burger Co.

Private Sector Provisions

Station No.6

The New Burger Kids

Bebe Zito, multiple Twin Cities locations

Chip’s Clubhouse, St. Paul

Gus Gus, St. Paul

Little T’s, Minneapolis

STEPCHLD, Minneapolis

Chef-Created Smashburgers

Bull’s Horn, Minneapolis

Lake & Irving, Minneapolis

Parlour, Minneapolis and St. Paul

Petite Leon, Minneapolis

Revival, multiple Twin Cities locations

Saint Dinette, St. Paul

Blue-Collar Burgers

Burger Dive on Bay Street, St. Paul

Gordy’s Hi-Hat, Cloquet

King’s Place Bar and Grill, Miesville

Lions Tap, Eden Prairie

Val’s Rapid Serv, St. Cloud

Thick Burgers

328 Grill, St. Paul Park

Dan’s Bar & Grill, New Trier

DeGidio’s Restaurant & Bar, St. Paul

Devil’s Advocate (with foie gras), Minneapolis and Stillwater 

Red Cow, multiple Twin Cities locations

Juicy Lucys

5-8 Club, Minneapolis

Blue Door Pub, multiple locations 

Matt’s Bar and Grill, Minneapolis

The Nook, St. Paul

Not Burgers

ALTBurger, Minneapolis

Francis Burger Joint, Minneapolis

The Freehouse (turkey burger), Minneapolis