Taylor Carik on Matt’s Bar’s Universal Popularity

Taylor breaks down the diversity of Matt’s clientelle after being inspired by reading Minnesota Monthly’s latest Best Burgers issue:

– on the new MnMo, Franken and Matt’s

Living right next to Matt’s, I’ve been in the bar at all different hours of the day and have seen everyone kind of Minnesotan eating juicy lucys. So it’s no wonder every Twin Cities burger list, including MnMo, puts Matt’s on top. I’ve seen families eat JL’s on Saturdays, I’ve seen Latinos come in after long days of work, I’ve even seen two old ladies holding up a guy so old that he could hardly walk walk into Matt’s for lunch to eat a burger. It’s going to be tough to beat that.

I couldn’t agree more. Earlier this week, while dining with my wife & father-in-law, a 4’10” 70+ year old was hovering over our table as we wrapped up our pitcher. She was securing a table for her and three equally aged and heighted friends.

It’s not uncommon to see large groups of teens earlier in the day sucking down cans of pop with their Lucy’s while going social on a few baskets of fries. Ala carte fries and group dates were made for each other.

We Got Served: Pro-Nook

The We Got Served blog has come out strong for the Jucy Lucy served up at The Nook:

We got served: The Nook

We actually have been to The Nook once before, prior to starting this blog, so this wasn’t really a new dining experience. I ordered the same thing I had last time, the Juicy Lucy. I just love them, so ordering anything else really isn’t an option for me. This one didn’t disappoint. As I mentioned in the Groveland Tap review, this is my favorite Juicy Lucy that I’ve had. I also liked that it came with fries! I didn’t really like the fries that much – weirdly enough. I guess Ben and I have opposite fry tastes. I thought these were really dry. I like lots o grease I guess!

We Got Served is right: The Nook rocks.

WGS previously hit The Groveland Tap and compared it to a few other Lucy serving establishments:

Groveland Tap

I thought my Juicy Lucy was average. I’ve now had a Juicy Lucy at Matt’s Bar (good), the Nook (great), and Tuggs (if you count their stuffed burgers as a form of Juicy Lucy – it was okay but way too expensive). I thought this one was better than Tuggs (in terms of value mostly), but worse than Matt’s and The Nook. I’d probably order something else if I went back. The deep fried PB&J that Ben wanted was okay, but not good enough to ever want to order again. It was mostly the novelty that appealed to him, I think.

Great work, We Got Served. Thanks for sharing your experiences. It sounds like you’re reaching Jucy Lucy Sommelier status.

Adrian’s Tavern – Juicy Lucy Review

Adrian's Tavern Juicy Lucy

It’s not uncommon for people to eat more than one Juicy Lucy in a sitting at many restaurants. However, I’m sure that rarely happens at Adrian’s Tavern.

This Lucy seals a slice of American cheese inside to generous 1/4 pounder patties and is slow-cooked for 20 minutes with a cover over the burger on the fryer. No rush job here.

I think this helps cook such a thick, cheese filled, burger thoroughly, since getting the temperature up inside the burger can be a trick without burning the exterior to a crisp.

Here’s a look inside. Click on the image for larger versions on Flickr.

Adrian's Tavern Juicy Lucy

It comes with chips by default but fries are available. Onions – fries or raw – are available. I went with fried onions.

Adrian’s also has a solid beer selection, including Sierra Nevada, Guinness, Stella Artois, and Delirium Tremens among their tap selections.

The woman who prepared the Lucy appeared to have the skills to cook a Lucy in her sleep. A real pro.

Adrian’s is located on Chicago Ave just South of 48th Street, so a quick trip up from Minnehaha Parkway.

A Monster Dines at Matt’s Bar

Courtney from “Max & Courtney Make Monsters” shows how monsters dine on Jucy Lucy’s at Matt’s Bar.

A female monster with half a face attempts to sate her inhuman hunger on the Jucy Lucy, the legendary hamburger of Matt’s Bar is south Minneapolis. Make up based on a design by Dick Smith from his book “Dick Smith’s Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-Up.”

Check out how Courtney transformed into a Lucy dining monster step by step here.

Matt’s Bar is the kind of place where monsters are welcome. I’m sure some zombies have eaten there in the past, and I wouldn’t be surprised to run into a werewolf during a visit.

This video has some of the best Jucy Lucy action shots I’ve seen. If you haven’t had a chance to experience a Jucy Lucy first-hand, this is the closest you’ll come to enjoying one first hand. Awesome stuff.

Jucy Addition: Birchwood Cafe

Vegetarian Juicy Lucy

This is quite possibly the most controversial addition to the Jucy Lucy Restaurant Map to date: Birchwood Cafe’s Vegetarian Lucy.

Yes, that’s correct. A vegetarian Lucy.

Birchwood black bean burger stuffed with kalamata olives, capers, mozzarella and feta served with red peppers, sundried tomato aioli, bibb lettuce on buttermilk bun. $9

The vegetarian Lucy presents challenges for the cook. Beans, unlike beef, is hard to wrap around meat. And once heated, the cheese has a tendency to be absorbed by the beans.

At $9, it’s also one of the more expensive Jucy Lucy’s I’ve ever encountered. That price comes with a chips & salsa side. For $1 more, you can get fresh greens.

For vegetarians who’ve always had an interest in trying a Jucy Lucy but not enough to actually eat meat, this is now an option for you. But I can assure you that this is NO WAY a substitute for the real thing. It’s a bit too fancy, doesn’t have the texture of meat, and isn’t able to contain molten cheese the way actual meat does.

International Renowned Comfort Food

Iranian-born writer and director, Marjane Satrapi, shared the story of her discovery of Minneapolis’ contribution to international cuisine during a recent interview with Rob Nelson.

Travel the world over, but you won’t find a better burger

“The first time I came here, the [cab driver] told me, ‘Oh, I will bring you to a French restaurant.’ And I was like, ‘No, I’m here to eat what you eat. So what do you eat?’ And he was like, ‘Well, there’s something here, it’s kind of greasy, but [it’s] the Jucy Lucy burger.’ I was here three days. For three days, lunch and dinner, I had the Jucy Lucy burger. I tried to make one in France. All my friends in France know the Jucy Lucy burger of Minneapolis.

She obviously appreciates the finer things in life.

A Cool Ketchup Injection?

The Fry Poke technique, as previously explained, involves using a French (Freedom?) Fry to release some of the molten cheese’s heat through the top of the burger before consuming:

Fry Poking

As if that wasn’t strange enough, senior Jucy Lucy Restaurant dining behavioralist correspondent, Opheliac9, reports on a twist to the fry-poke involving a cool Ketchup injection:

A friend of mine, who introduced me to Matt’s and Jucy Lucy’s a few years ago, has another step: After the “hot fry injection” he squirts ketchup into the burger. His rationale is that it cools the cheese down faster, thus you get to eat faster… however, I think it’s disgusting. *shrug*

Having not seen this myself, I can only hope that he brings his own ketchup with him.

Tomato Ketchup Tub
Ketchup photo by tom.arthur

Bar Abilene Southwestern Juicy Lucy Review

I had a chance to check out the Southwestern Juicy Lucy at Bar Abilene over the weekend.

As I mentioned before, Carly discovered this gem while reviewing the menu. It took a few days to get over there, but we made a point of checking it out.

We started the night with some tableside guacamole, which never disappoints at Bar Abilene. The $5 Tecate cans and $6 Pacifico bottles went down well before we realized how much we were paying for what is otherwise normally Mexican beer. No beer prices on the menu should have been a sign.

Here’s a refresher on the lucy description:

southwestern juicy lucy hand pattied with rajas and cheese topped with jack and cheddar cheese

Here’s a shot of the presentation:

Bar Abilene's Southwestern Juicy Lucy

My first thought: what’s with all the fixins? I don’t need a tomato on a Jucy Lucy. I’m looking for meat and cheese with possibly some onions on top.

I’m not sure why they think it needs a layer on cheese on top to supplement the internal cheese but I’m never going to turn down cheese, so that’s a non-issue in my book.

Here’s a side shot once I had a chance to dig into it a bit. The burger seemed a bit pinker than I’d like for a lucy, but my bigger concern was the massive amount of non-beef or cheese items between the buns:

Bar Abilene's Southwestern Juicy Lucy

Here’s a closer look at all of the onions, lettuce, and tomatoes getting in the way:

Bar Abilene's Southwestern Juicy Lucy

While I applaud any restaurant that takes a shot at a Jucy Lucy, I think Bar Abilene’s biggest issue is that they’re trying too hard. They’re trying to make they burger match the restaurant rather than letter the burger be what it’s meant to be. Skip the fixins and stick with a burger with cheese inside with raw or fried options upon request. It’s less work for the restaurant and will deliver exactly what a Jucy Lucy connoisseur has come to expect.

If you’ve never had a Jucy Lucy before, do not make this your first stop. If you’re trying to stamp your passport at every location serving a Lucy, be sure to grab a drink somewhere else before you go.