The Juicy Lucy, or Juicy 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. It is 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, where they serve the "Juicy Lucy", or Matt's Bar, where they 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?
Matt's Bar and the Jucy Lucy
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.
Cheesy, fatty, comforting goodness and cheap beer. The Jucy Lucy from Matt's Bar experience will taste like heaven. The meat is cooked until almost charred on the outside, but the burger is tender inside from the almost vaporized cheese. There's not much cheese visible inside but that's ok, it has boiled off into the meat and the meat is all the better for it.
The bun is nothing special, but the portions of fries are enormous. Unless you are beyond ravenous, you'll only need a half-portion.
You'll get your burger quick, served with a warning against burning your mouth on the molten cheese, and you can accompany it with a pint of Grain Belt or something similar.
If you can deal with the dive bar atmosphere at Matt's Bar, then Matt's Bar Jucy Lucy burgers are the best in Minneapolis. The 5-8 Club has better bread for their Juicy Lucy buns, but the burgers are better at Matt's Bar.
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 Club is made with American cheese and served on freshly baked buns. The buns are what stand out over Matt's Bar. The 5-8 Juicy Lucy burgers retain more super-heated cheese than Matt's Bar. Much of the cheese seems to boil into the meat and the rest floods out almost scalding your fingers when you bite, leaving a void in the burger. The meat in the 5-8 burger, however, isn't quite as tasty as Matt's.
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.
the 5-8 Club is more family-friendly restaurant than a bar. The 5-8 Club has much more than just the Juicy Lucy on the menu if you are dining with non-burger eaters.
The 5-8 Club Juicy Lucy burger may be second best but it is still a fine burger and worthy of being a Minneapolis food icon.
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 the Nookie Burger. It's as good as the Nook's other burgers, which is to say it is worth driving from Minneapolis for.
The Blue Door Pub and the Blucy Burger
While other bars have kept their cheese options conservative (cheddar, American), the Blue Door Pub in Longfellow and St. Paul have 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.