Minnesotans are far too humble to ever brag, but interestingly, I’m not a Minnesotan.
I’m a transplant. And when I moved to the Twin Cities about a decade ago, one of the first things that absolutely blew me away? Minneapolis & St. Paul’s unbelievable burgers.
So on behalf of all those far too humble Minnesotans, I’ll just come out and say it. Minneapolis and St. Paul have the best burgers of any major city.
Come at me, metro areas across the U.S.
I have no idea why cheeseburgers seem to be the food category that the Twin Cities does best. I suspect it’s the close proximity to all that Wisconsin cheese, mixed with the cold winter weather that always makes warm and cheesy food sound oh-so-good.
In any case, shedding light on the incredible burger culture of Minneapolis and St. Paul is long overdue. And so is this post, which outlines my personal picks for the 8 best burgers in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Map of the Twin Cities Best Burgers
The “Must Try” Juicy Lucy: Matt’s Bar
You can’t talk burgers in the Twin Cities without first covering the city’s most famous trademark – the Juicy Lucy.
Legend can’t seem to agree about the Juicy Lucy’s origins. Two different Minneapolis bars claim to have created it. Personally, I believe Matt’s version. Mostly because they’ve got a cool story to back up their claim.
According to the legend, a Matt’s patron in the 1950s asked for his cheese in between two patties. One bite in, he described his molten hot creation as a “one Juicy Lucy!”
Since then, The Juicy Lucy has become a Twin Cities claim to fame, and you can now find the cheese stuffed inside of burgers all over the Twin Cities.
So, you might be wondering where to go to get the best Juicy Lucy experience in the Twin Cities? And you might think that could be a tough question to answer…
Thankfully, it’s not. Because without question, most locals agree that Matt’s Jucy Lucy is the best in town. (They spell it without the i, for some reason…)
Despite countless attempts to re-imagine the Juicy (some of which are actually really darn good) Matt’s is still my go-to. There’s just something about their perfectly charred, molten-hot perfection. All created on their ancient and tiny flat-top griddle, of course.
Sometimes the most popular tourist spots are traps. Thankfully, Matt’s is the real deal.
- Address: 3500 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407
- Website: Matt’s Bar
Best smashed burger: Parlour Minneapolis & Parlour St. Paul
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is the burger at Parlour. With its fancy atmosphere and unique cooking method, Parlour’s burger revolutionized the Twin Cities food scene when it debuted a few years ago.
At Parlour, the chefs swapped the classic thick burger pattie in favor of a thin one, which they smash onto the griddle until its a juicy, crispy, and charred pancake of flavor. A second pattie is piled onto the bun for proper thickness, along with plenty of oozy white American cheese and a pastry-chef-worthy egg bun. The result is one of the most unique and delicious burgers you will find anywhere.
For the true Parlour experience, wash it down with one of their award winning Martinis, Old Fashioneds, or other legendary cocktails.
- Address 1: 730 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
- Address 2: 267 7th St W, St Paul, MN 55102
- Website: Parlour Bar
Best fancier burger: Saint Dinette
Saint Dinette builds on Parlour’s smashed and charred technique by adding sinister amounts of liquid gold – and by that I’m referring to their house American cheese. Even by American cheese standards, it’s thick and oozy in all the right ways.
If it sounds like I spent a lot of time explaining the cheese, that’s because it’s without question the defining characteristic of Saint Dinette’s aptly named “Cheeseburger.” The burgers here all come out looking like the picture perfect photo of a burger that you always wished you had. And they taste like it too.
- Address: 261 5th St E, St Paul, MN 55101
- Website: Saint Dinette
The most underrated burger: Bay Street Burger Dive
Wow. Just wow.
This sneaky little dive bar just moved into St. Paul’s West 7th neighborhood. I was expecting it to be good, since it comes from the same guys who brought us Smack Shack, but I wasn’t expecting it to be that good.
One bite in, and I immediately knew this unassuming burger was one of the cheesiest, most tender bites of burger I’ve ever had. Definitely one of the best burgers in St. Paul. And depending on my mood, I could certainly see this being #1 in all of the Twin Cities.
(As an added bonus, this is a burger that comes in at half the price of some of the more… yuppy?… options on our list.)
- Address: 731 Randolph Ave, St Paul, MN 55102
- Website: Burger Dive
The best classic style burger: Lion’s Tap
Looking for the perfect classic burger? Lion’s Tap is your answer.
It says something that an unassuming bar 25 miles south of Minneapolis is even in the discussion for best burger in the Twin Cities. But the fact so many locals are willing to make the drive out to Eden Prairie to grab one of the Lion’s Tap legendary burgers just speaks to what we’re dealing with here.
Explaining the greatness of a Lion’s Tap burger isn’t easy. These burgers don’t feature any unique cooking methods, and there’s no fancy chef-driven flavor profiles to experiment with, either. They come out on plain looking buns, with a presentation looking less like a legendary burger and more like something off the McDonald’s dollar menu.
But one bite in, and I promise you that you’ll see what the hype is about. Lion’s tap is simply a classic burger, done perfectly.
Even in an cheeseburger environment as competitive as Minneapolis, sometimes perfect execution of the basics is all it takes.
- Address: 16180 Flying Cloud Dr., Eden Prairie, MN 55347
- Website: Lion’s Tap
The new challenger: Bull’s Horn
One of the newest challengers in the Twin Cities burger scene, Bull’s Horn sits in a retro bar that was intentionally not renovated when legendary Twin Cities chef Doug Flicker bought the place in 2017.
Instead, everything in Bull’s Horn is a throwback. From the wood-paneled walls, to the Wurlitzer jukebox, to the plastic water pitchers and plain red and yellow condiment squirt bottles. You’ll feel like you stepped back into your grandpa’s dive bar, and that’s exactly what they’re going for.
The menu’s a bit of a throw back too, particularly to Doug Flicker’s days of chef-driven tasting menus. That’s why the Bulls Horn menu explains their burger like so:
“It’s perfect, no changes. Lettuce, pickle, special sauce.”
In other words, you’ll have to trust the chef.
A bold claim, certainly. But after experiencing this perfectly balanced work of art, I can respect their decision to refuse any changes. Bull’s Horn’s Burger (WITH the house-made American cheese, of course) really is that good.
- Address: 4563 S 34th Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406
- Website: Bull’s Horn
Best atmosphere for a Juicy Lucy: The Nook
I said before that Matt’s is my favorite Juicy Lucy in the Twin Cities, but The Nook is a close second. And The Nook does have two very big advantages.
First, cheese curds. Okay, that’s probably cheating for an article about burgers, but you did want an appetizer with that burger, right?
Second, the atmosphere. And particularly, the basement atmosphere. The Nook’s lower level has an awesome basement, complete with thousands of decorated dollar bills taped on the wall. Oh, not to mention an entire bowling alley! The look on every out-of-towners face when they descend into this legendary dive bar gets me every time, and many visitors actually preferring The Nook to the city’s other Juicy Lucy options, simply for the entire experience.
Back to the burger though. I still recommend the Juicy Lucy, although it’s interesting to note that The Nook’s comes with a few different options. The classic has a delicious bun and pattie with copious amounts of cheese. Compared to Matt’s, it’s definitely more cheese, which almost takes on a classic nacho-cheese flavor (in a good way) as it pours over the pattie.
I’ve also come to love some of their more creative Juicy’s, like the Paul Molitor version (pictured above) which stuffs the inside with a fantastically gooey pepper jack cheese.
Psst – If the crowds are too much at The Nook, you can always head down the road to Shamrock’s, on West 7th Street in St. Paul. Same owners, same burgers, smaller crowds!
- Address: 492 Hamline Ave S, St Paul, MN 55116
- Website: The Nook
Best creative burgers: Brunson’s Pub
Funny story – Lily lived a couple minutes from this place and somehow missed their burgers for years. When she first tried it, she was blown away, and then immediately kicked herself for not eating here sooner.
Since then, I’ve been totally converted, too.
Located in St. Paul’s East side, Brunson’s is an awesome bar decked out in old Hamm’s memorabilia.
Their menu is incredible all the way around. Everything from delicious chips and dip to cheese curds to wings. But let’s be honest, you’re coming here for the burgers.
On that front, Brunson’s gets bonus points for all sorts of clever concoctions. I’m especially obsessed with their Schweitz Burger (angus and sausage pattie with Swiss cheese, sourkraut, onion, and beer mustard on a pretzel bun!) and the Bandito (comes with chipotle salsa, cilantro, lime aoili, and topped with tortilla strips!). For the less adventurous, their classic double is nothing short of perfection, too.
- Address: 956 Payne Ave, St Paul, MN 55130
- Website: Brunson’s Pub