The Juicy Lucy, or Jucy Lucy burger, is Minneapolis' contribution to world cuisine. It's a cheeseburger with the cheese inside the meat, such that the cheese melts to a molten core when cooked, and served with a warning against scalding yourself with liquid cheese.
The Juicy Lucy burger was invented in a south Minneapolis bar sometime in the 1950s, and depending on who you talk to, that was either the 5-8 Club, who serve the Juicy Lucy, or Matt's Bar, who make the Jucy Lucy, and let customers know that "if it's spelled correctly, you're at the wrong place".
We'll never know who did it first. But, who does it best?
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Matt's Bar claims to be the home of the original Jucy Lucy, and if it's spelled like that, you can't argue with them. But, we don't care who did it first, we care who does it best. Matt's bar has changed little since the invention of the Jucy Lucy in the 1950s, and the burgers are cooked right behind the bar.
I had my first Jucy Lucy at Matt's Bar on an exhausting and rainy day that could all be remedied with cheesy, fatty, comforting goodness and cheap beer. That Jucy Lucy from Matt's Bar tasted like heaven. A subsequent Jucy Lucy was almost as good - the meat is cooked until almost charred on the outside, and it's tender inside from the almost vaporized cheese. The bun is just OK, but the portions of fries are enormous.
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The 5-8 Club and the Juicy Lucy Burger
The 5-8 Club is much more proactive about defending the home of the original Juicy Lucy than the laissez-faire attitude of Matt's Bar.
The Juicy Lucy at the 5-8 is made with American cheese and served on freshly baked buns. The buns are better than Matt's Bar, and 5-8 Juicy Lucy burgers are technically better too. They retain more superheated cheese than Matt's, where much of the cheese seems to have boiled into the meat and the rest floods out and scalds your fingers when you bite, leaving a void in the burger. The meat in the 5-8 burger, however, isn't quite as tasty.
The 5-8 Club's modern renovations have removed any speakeasy style the bar once had, taking away the 1950's ambience that is an integral part of this 1950s burger.
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The Nook Bar, St. Paul, and the Nookie Burger
The main competition to the veteran Minneapolis bars are newcomers in St. Paul. But is it really worth driving to the Twin City less well known for restaurants for a burger? Are they contenders for the best Juicy Lucy crown?
The first Juicy Lucy across the Mississippi was from the Nook Bar, a tiny sports bar in St. Paul's Highland Park. The Nook Bar has won well-deserved local press awards for their basic burgers for some years, and there is a Juicy Lucy on the menu too, known as a Nookie Burger. It's as good as the Nook's other burgers, which is to say it is worth driving from Minneapolis for.
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The Blue Door Pub and the Blucy Burger
While other bars have kept their cheese options conservative - cheddar, American - the Blue Door Pub in St. Paul and Longfellow has the Blucy burger, a Juicy Lucy made with blue cheese and garlic.
As well as the blue cheese Blucy, the Blue Door Pub offers nine other versions of cheese stuffed burgers with various cheeses, and toppings inspired by Bangkok, Hawaii, and hangovers - the last one has bacon and a fried egg, which, if you'll consider the opinion of one who doesn't like blue cheese, is one of the best things to put on a burger.