WanderLand: The Juicy Lucy Debate

In the past two months we’ve learned a lot about the Twin Cities: the people here love the outdoors. they have some of the best Asian food we’ve ever eaten, and the locals from Minneapolis and St. Paul love to compete with each other. One of the most heated debates comes from who has the best cheese-stuffed hamburger, what they call a Juicy Lucy (or Jucy Lucy depending on where your loyalty lies). The basic idea is to take two hamburger patties, put a hunk of cheese between them, form it into single patty and then grill it until the cheese inside becomes nearly as hot as the sun. We decided to try two of the most highly recommended Juicy Lucys in the area: one from Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis and the other from The Blue Door Pub in St. Paul. We are not going to debate the service, décor, bar menu or side-dishes at these two places choosing to focus solely on the burgers themselves. Lets see which Lucy we think reigns supreme.

 Matt's Bar has been making Jucy Lucys for almost 60 years.

Matt's Bar has been making Jucy Lucys for almost 60 years.

Matt’s Bar - Opened in 1954 as a small neighborhood burger place, Matt’s claims to be the original home of the Jucy Lucy (without an “i”) a claim disputed by another local place, the 5-8 Club (with an “i”). Matt’s has been doing things the same way for 60 years and it doesn’t seem like much has changed, which is a good thing. There are only a couple things on the menu, the Jucy Lucy, a regular burger, a chicken sandwich, a grilled cheese and a ham and cheese sandwich, but the menu doesn’t need to be very long because most of the people lining up outside to get in are ordering the Jucy Lucy. We order two, one with raw onions and one with grilled. They come on a simple hamburger bun wrapped in paper with your onions of choice; no plate, no basket, nothing but a beautiful, molten cheese-filled burger. The hardest thing to do when your Lucy arrives is to heed the warnings of the staff and wait a few minutes to let the cheese cool down before taking your first bite. The burger itself is cooked on a flat-top griddle, my preferred burger cooking method, which creates a flavorful crust and wonderfully crispy edges. They won’t tell you what kind of cheese is inside but it seems like a mix of Cheddar and American. The flavors of grilled meat, melty cheese, onion and a little added mustard all meld together wonderfully and show us why this place is as famous as it is. What we didn’t love was the plain hamburger bun that seemed a bit too dry and the fact that the burger must be cooked well past medium rare in order to melt the cheese inside. Both of these things led to us think the Jucy Lucy from Matt’s was just a bit on the dry side but overall still a really good burger. Check out their Facebook page here.

The Blue Door Pub - As a relative newcomer to the Juicy Lucy game, The Blue Door Pub, or the BDP as they call themselves, have put their own unique twist on the Twin Cities favorite burger. Their version, called the Blucy, come filled with a wide variety of ingredients that include: Swiss, blue and mozzarella cheeses, minced garlic and even bacon. They also have no problem putting things like BBQ pork, fried eggs and sliced jalapenos on top of their burgers. We order The Frenchy, with Swiss cheese, caramelized onions and a side of au jus, and The Cajun Blucy, with pepper jack cheese and diced jalapenos. Where this got really interesting is when my wife decided, with the encouragement of our server, to make her Cajun into a Jiffy Cajun Blucy. This is where they actually add a large dollop of Jiffy peanut butter, bacon and mayonnaise to the top of her order. And let me tell you, it is amazing!! The peanut butter doesn’t overpower the other ingredients like we were afraid it would but actually adds an amazing mouth feel to the experience; some how spreading the flavors of the Blucy all around and allowing you to taste even more. The only problem was that the au jus that came with the Frenchie was a bit salty and lacked any deep flavor. An easy fix as I just left it off to the side. Besides that, we both thought our Blucys were fantastic. If you want connect with the BDP, check out their Facebook or Twitter sites.

Matt’s Bar has a very good Jucy Lucy. It’s absolutely worth coming to see where this Twin Cities staple (possibly) originated. However, in my opinion, The Blue Door Pub is a place worth visiting again and again because of the depth of their menu and their execution of interesting flavor combinations. The winner is:

If you agree, disagree, or think we should try your favorite place, please let us know. And remember, when it comes to eating Juicy Lucys, everyone's a winner (unless you burn your mouth and are unable to finish yours).