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A Local’s Guide to the Best Juicy Lucy in Minneapolis

best juicy lucy minneapolis

I tell all my friends and family the same thing whenever they’re visiting Minneapolis:

You’ve got to try a Juicy Lucy burger.

This odd creation is, without question, Minneapolis’s most famous thing to eat. And whether you’re only in town for a night or you’re a long time local, it’s hard to find a more delicious, and more distinctly Minnesotan, meal than a good Juicy Lucy cheeseburger.

The only problem?

With its fame comes tons of different restaurants, each providing their unique spin on the classic.

Where to go… where to go…

Don’t worry. I’m a burger addict, and I’ve personally eaten more of these delicious, cheesy creations than my cardiovascular system appreciates.

So today, I’m sharing all my local insight with this guide to the four best Juicy Lucy Burgers in Minneapolis. (And the Twin Cities)

PS – If you’re just looking for a solid burger and don’t care where the cheese goes, you can also check my guide to the best burgers in the Twin Cities.

But first, what is a Juicy Lucy burger?

For the truly uninitiated, a Juicy Lucy is a uniquely Twin Cities burger that ditches the slice of cheese on top, and instead molds the burger pattie around the cheese.

“Big whoop,” I remember thinking before I moved to the Twin Cities.

But oh, how wrong I was…

You see, this seemingly unimportant adjustment actually has a massive impact on the final product. When you bite into a Juicy Lucy, you’re not getting the usual burger experience where you taste obvious layers of bun-cheese-pattie-bun.

Oh no, placing the cheese on the inside results in the burger having an inner filling of molten-hot, ooey-gooey, and perfectly runny cheese with every bite. You don’t experience the usual burger layers. You experience a complete combination, where every bite is oozing with cheese all over.

The Twin Cities Bizarre Juicy Lucy History

Of course, no Juicy Lucy tour would be complete without a little bit of history about this mysterious creation.

Like all great creations, the true origins of the Juicy Lucy sparks some intense Minneapolis rivalries. Much like Philadelphia’s conflicting reports about the origin of the Philly Cheesesteak, our city has their own Geno’s vs. Pat’s style conflict going on.

You see, Matt’s Bar claims they’re the creative geniuses behind the world’s first Juicy Lucy. As the story goes, sometime in the 1950s, a customer ordered a burger with an odd request – put the cheese in the middle, please. (We can only assume this unnamed hero may have had a few too many Hamm’s or Grain Belts…)

After one bite into his burger, he exclaimed, “That’s one Juicy Lucy!”

And a legend was born…

Or so Matt’s says.

Right down the street, The 5-8 Club claims they introduced the world’s first Juicy. Their bar dates back 1928, when the “58th Street Club” was a local speakeasy during the height of Prohibition.

Who knows, although everyone’s got their favorites. (See mine below!)

Map of the Best Juicy Lucy Cheeseburgers in Minneapolis

 

My Personal Favorite Jucy Lucy in Minneapolis: Matt’s Bar (Minneapolis, MN)

For my money, there’s no more quintessential Jucy Lucy experience than at Matt’s Bar. (They drop the “i” in their spelling, for some reason.)

A tiny little spot in South Minneapolis’s Nokomis neighborhood, Matt’s Bar is a true northern dive-bar experience. As the sign on the wall says, “No plates. No ice. We blew the budget on Napkins.”

Put simply, Matt’s is my favorite Juicy Lucy in the Twin Cities, and the one I find myself recommending to visitors the most. And I think most locals agree with me, considering there’s a constant line out the door of this tiny establishment.

At Matt’s you’ll get a classic Juicy Lucy, in all it’s glory. There’s only one flavor of cheese (a deliciously creamy American) and the only decision you have to make is whether to add grilled onions or not. (Protip: All the locals go with grilled onions.)

Bonus: Matt’s Bar is only 14 minutes from the Minneapolis airport, so you can totally get your fix before a trip or even during a long MSP layover. Not that I’ve ever done that…

The Food Critic’s Favorite: The Nook (St. Paul, MN)

the nook and shamrock's juicy lucy st paul

Back in 2018, Alex from Bon Apetit’s “Alex Eats it All” came to the Twin Cities and tried 9 different Juicy Lucy cheeseburgers in a single day.

Aside from a total gut-bomb, his conclusion was…?

The Nook had the best Juicy Lucy in the Twin Cities.

 

He raved about the burger’s melty cheese, simple bun, and maybe most importantly, the Nook’s awesome vibe.

Here’s my take:

He’s not wrong. Descend into The Nook’s basement, and you’ll find a cozy bar that’s bursting with character. From the thousands of dollar bills taped to the walls, to the glow of endless neon signs, to the sights and sounds of the adjacent bowling alley, The Nook’s basement is without question one of the coolest atmospheres in the entire Twin Cities.

Onto the Juicy Lucy…

The Nook’s is definitely delicious, and a great option for anyone interested in trying one of the Twin Cities’ best. What stands out to me is the absurd,  copious amounts of cheese they manage to stuff into their patties. This is probably the juiciest of all the Lucies around.

Personally, it’s usually my second favorite Juicy Lucy in the cities. But I can totally see how the vibe could push it over the top for some people, and I know lots of locals who do rank this spot #1.

PS – The Nook is one of the spots with a few different takes on the Juicy. My favorite is actually “The Paul Molitor” which substitutes the usual American cheese for Pepperjack

PPS – If the crowds at The Nook are too much, you can head to their sister restaurant (also located in St. Paul) called Shamrocks. No bowling alley, but same great burgers, minus the crowds.

  • Address: 492 Hamline Ave S, St Paul, MN 55116
  • Website: The Nook

The Most Unique Juicy Lucy: Blue Door Pub

Blue Door’s “Blucy” Lucy burst onto the scene in 2008, when they made a name for themselves by stuffing the inside of their Juicy Lucy with the bold choice of blue cheese. Because why not stuff a creamy burger with the creamiest cheese around?

I’ve gotta admit, it’s a pretty genius concept, and the unique taste has developed a true cult following around Minneapolis.

Blue Door now has multiple locations around the Twin Cities, plus an expanded menu of Blucy Lucy burgers, including ones with goat cheese, brie, ghost pepper, and all sorts of other unique options. They even have a Peanut Butter Blucy!

  • Address 1: 3448 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406
  • Address 2: 1514 Como Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
  • Address 3: 1811 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55104 (Temp. Closed)
  • Address 4: 3006 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (Temp. Closed)
  • Website: The Blue Door Pub

The Most Underrated Juicy Lucy: Groveland Tap (St. Paul, MN)

Located in St. Paul’s homey and cozy Mac-Groveland neighborhood, Grovaland Tap is an awesome beer-bar that also turns out one of the city’s best Juicy Lucy cheeseburgers.

I’d say they’re most known known for the classic version with American cheese, but for the adventurous, they also feature some truly unique spins – like their “Ellsworth Lucy” which they top with some of the best cheese curds in the Twin Cities, plus a house made special sauce!

In my mind, Groveland Tap is definitely the most underrated spot to grab a Juicy Lucy in the Twin Cities. In many ways, it’s St. Paul’s answer to Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis, and while it might not have quite as much history, it does rock and much lengthier list of tap beers and food options.

Put simply, Groveland Tap is rock-solid option for a fantastic Juicy Lucy burger in St. Paul.

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