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Jfood's first (and second) Juicy Lucy - Matts Bar (MSP)

Jfood had his first Juicy Lucy tonight and halfway through the burger he was so excited he ordered a second.

Even with the traffic dreadful on 62, Jfood worked his way to Matt’s Bar. He was able to snag a Norm at the bar seat overlooking the griddle. And what a griddle it was. The cook had 12-15 burgers going at a time, plus 2 baskets of fries. The burgers were coming off at probably one per minute and it was like watching a cooking ballet. Jfood ordered a JL, fried onions with a half order of fries. As he sat and read his book, a 20ish guy sat next to Jfood and he actually asked if there was a size of fries less than a half order. Wow!!

The burger was delivered. The barkeep explained to Jfood that he needed to be careful because the cheese inside was very hot. A little thimble of ketchup came with the fries. Jfood first dipped a couple of fries into the ketchup, they were delicious.

Now Jfood slowly took a bite of the JL. Carefully his teeth went through the bun, then through the pickle, detoured through the fried onions, until he met the resistance of the meat. The juice started down each corner of his mouth and the tips of his teeth engaged the molten cheese. Careful…careful. He bit through the tip of the burger, pulled it away from his mouth, and so far, so good, no burns. Whew. He chewed slowly, enjoying the five elements…beef, cheese, pickle, onion, bun. As he chewed he understood why people love this burger. The meat was juicy, the onions were nicely fried (oh yeah, he fries the onions on the griddle with some of the French fry oil), the pickle was great and the cheese was almost a homemade whiz. It had a nice saltiness and, even with cooked until well done, it was incredibly juicy. Halfway though the meal, Jfood ordered another.

The second arrived and even though he tried his best Jfood could not finish #2.

Jfood very much enjoyed his first, and definitely not last, Juicy Lucy.

For dessert he drove to Sebastian Joes. Under another thread.

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  1. Nice review, but you're simply biding your time with Jucy Lucys until you have a Nook one. Matt's can't hold a candle.

    12 Replies
    1. re: salvage7

      Oooooh the CH Jucy Lucy ramble. Matt's still reigns king for me. LOL! That well-seasoned grill holds magic for the mouth.

      1. re: salvage7

        Haven't tried the Nook version version but was very disappointed in Matt's burnt to a crisp offerings.

        1. re: scoopG

          interesting in that as jfood watched the burgers on the grill and the color getting darker and darker he was concerned about the flavor. But when he bit into the JL he was pleasantly surprised.

          Jfood also heard that a place with the name Blue Door or something like that is another place to try a Lucy. Any thoughts?

          1. re: jfood

            You know - when I ordered Matt's JL they told me it had to be cooked well done so the cheese would melt but what I got was a burnt-out burnt cheeseburger! A friend on a follow-up visit got the same. I thought the JL at the 58 Club (58th and Cedar?) was better but the 58 Club is what it is - less a restaurant setting than well, a club. Will have to try the Blue Door (where?) and the Nook!

            1. re: jfood

              The Matt's JLs are just too greasy for me--although I understand a certain appeal the grease holds for some. The "cheese" should not be brown.

              Blue Door Pub is a must try. It is located in St. Paul on Selby Avenue, just east of Fairview. It's not very large, however, and you may have to wait a bit for a seat. But their beer on tap list helps one with the wait.

              1. re: Brad Ballinger

                JFood don't drink. Which is too bad, especially since a Nook Burger goes great with a Hamm's on tap.

                1. re: Brad Ballinger

                  Physics question. How was the cheese which is inside a JL "brown"?

                  BTW - when jfood cooks his burgers on the grill the edge of the cheese does get brown-black

                  1. re: jfood

                    Not sure how much physics is involved, but my "physics" answer is... The color of the melted goop that oozes out of a Matt's juicy lucy is such that I can't help but question if it ever was really cheese at any point in its life. And by brown, I really mean tan (not dark brown).

                    1. re: Brad Ballinger

                      Thanks BB. And it was/is cheese because after it cooled down on jfood's waxed paper (remember no plates come with) it turned to a cheese product.

                2. re: jfood

                  The Blue Door is well worth the visit...dont forget to also try the battered green beans! A little more creative take on the stuffed burger, but very good.

                  One can never go wrong at the Nook...great jucy! If you have some extra time after your visit to the Nook, great bowling alley in the basement next door - the Ran-Ham.

                  1. re: jfood

                    I wasn't overly impressed with the 'classic' JL at Blue Door, but everyone seems to rave about the 'Juicy Blucy', which is stuffed with bleu cheese and garlic. I've not tried that one.

                    And I will echo the recommendation for the Nook. For me, every element of their JL is better. The buns are made fresh daily at PJ Murphys bakery right down the street, the burger is cooked better (not as greasy) and the fries are better. The burger at Matt's is good in its own right, but not as good IMO.

                    If jfood gets a chance, I would definitely recommend getting to the Nook, for comparison purposes if nothing else.

                3. Now I'm hungry for one. That's the best description of eating a Juicy Lucy I have ever read. Excellent.

                  1. Juicy Lucy's don't need to be overcooked to get the cheese to melt. If anyone tells you that, then they've never tried making one themself. Matt's has a way of making them that is unique, and very tasty. The Blue Door And 58 also have their own twists. It's worth a Juicy Lucy burger crawl to appreciate the differences.

                    On the side, when I make a juicy lucy I sautee garlic in butter, then add the butter/garlic mixture to my ground beef along with other spices and filler. Then I make the two thin patties and put cheese and some cooked bacon in the middle. The garlic butter bacon juicy lucy is a heart stopper in many ways.

                    18 Replies
                    1. re: GutGrease

                      The Nook cooks theirs to medium. It comes out perfectly. I also recommend you order it "California style" with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. A plain JL is a little too plain for me.

                      1. re: Jordan

                        I just had a Paul Molitor at the Nook on Tuesday and it is far superior to Matts. Matts overcooks the Lucy. It is a welldone hockey puck. The Nook burger was cooked to medium and had a pepper jack cheese in it. Also, the fries at the Nook are incredible. Did not love the Blue Door either.

                        1. re: Latinpig

                          Latinpig, you took the words right out of my fingertips. I couldn't have written it better.

                          ~TDQ

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            Okeedokee....blue door is on the A-list to try.

                            1. re: jfood

                              Not based on my recommendation! BDP is on the list to NOT TRY. It's the Nook that is the must try.

                              Now, don't get me wrong, BDP is wonderful if it's in your neigbhoorhood. It is a wonderful neighborhood joint. I love it for that!

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                Chowhubby is a JL fan. He's been to all (5-8, Blue Door, Matt's, Shamrock's, Nook). The last few times I've been to BDP, I'm becoming less and less impressed (though the SPAM bites are too die for (you have to love cream cheese, which I do) - but their service has started to go downhill (i've been there 10+ times).

                                Chowhubby rates:

                                1. The Nook (hands down)
                                2. Matt's
                                3. Blue Door
                                4. 5-8
                                5. Shamrocks (only to get those lucky charms)

                                1. re: snoboardbabe77

                                  I don't mean to harsh on BDP too much. I really do think it's an outstanding neighborhood joint. I really enjoy it on that basis. It's just not my fav JL.

                                  ~TDQ

                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Sorry DQ, jfood was in between meetings and mistyped.

                                  He will report back in a couple of weeks.

                                  peace and ciao

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    Oh, no worries, I just wanted to make sure you weren't confused that it's the Nook that I prefer.

                                    ~TDQ

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      It's "jucy lucy" isn't it? Not "juicy lucy" ? Did I miss something?
                                      My daughter who lived in Minneapolis for 8 years was partial to Matt's.
                                      She loved the Nook, too, but not for their Jucy Lucy.

                                        1. re: zataar

                                          The spelling depends on the joint.

                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          to fight the traffic on 494 this coming monday night to SP jfood hopes it is really good. Then he is going back to Izzys.

                                          is the hamline ave location the best to try?

                                          1. re: jfood

                                            The Hamline location of the Nook is definitely the best to try. Note, that part of the appeal of the Nook is that it is a quintessential St. Paul experience, with a lot of local history. The high school across the street is Joe Mauer's alma mater.

                                            Anyway, at the Nook, expect a wait. I'm afraid the jucy lucy's at the "sister" bar, Shamrock's (sometimes called "The Irish Nook") are very inconsistent. I've had at least a couple at Shamrock's that were so bad that I couldn't even finish them. On the other hand, Shamrock's is a lot easier to get into. It's much bigger.

                                            Also, next door to the Nook is Kopplin's. Great coffee. They sell Rogue Chocolates, which is a very very local brand of chocolate that is sold only a few places. It's actually yesterday's chow pick. http://www.chow.com/pick/7702

                                            ~TDQ

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              P.S. My favs at the Nook are the Molitor (lucy) or the Lodge Burger.

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                Thanks DQ...Jfood reporting for Duty!!

                                            2. re: jfood

                                              jfood, turn off the Garmin once. From Edina right? Forget 494...make your way over to the Minnehaha Parkway and take that east over the river. Just over the river, take the E River Road north to Summit Ave, turn right. Take Summit to Fairview, turn left. Go to Selby Ave, turn right. You're at the Blue Door.

                                              Same amount of time as the interstates the GPS units force you to take, MUCH more pleasant drive. Enjoy the sites of cyclists, joggers, walkers, beautiful homes and river vistas and urban parkland. THAT...IS MINNESOTA!

                                              My favorite burger at the Nook is the Nookie Supreme, by the way. Go big or go home, right? But I'm not a fan of Jucy Lucys at all.

                                              1. re: MSPD

                                                thanks mspd...minnehana pkwy looked like a nice road, jfood passed through on his way to nick and eddies...nice idea.

                            2. As long as we're talking about foods that have a mystique beyond their actual quality.....cheese curds take on a number of forms and preferences, but if jfood wants to experience the Gold Standard (identical to those at the State Fair), that might push the Blue Door Pub higher up on the "to try" list. Well...unless you'll be in town for the State Fair.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: MSPD

                                That is interesting! I didn't realize they had state fair quality curds... my mouth is watering...

                              2. Here's my two cents:
                                I visited Matt's in April for the first time in many years and I was very disappointed in the Jucy Lucy. It was burnt to a crisp and tasted like a salt-lick and the "cheese" inside was flavorless. This is not easy for me to say. I used to live 3 blocks from Matt's and ate there at least once a week. But that was 10 years ago and I don't think the grill has been cleaned since.

                                As for the Blue Door Pub: I've been there once and got the Juicy Blucy. It was ok. My problem with it was that blue cheese doesn't melt that well and the burger was well-done so it was really, really dry.

                                By the way, I now live 3 blocks from the Nook and IMO it's the better Lucy.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: meabbott

                                  As for the Blue Door, I agree on the dry/well-done part. Went there a couple of Sundays ago at 4 and it was packed. Ordered the Blucy and it was just meh. Most of the bleu cheese had melted away. Also had the spam bites and once was enough on that end.

                                  Much prefer the Nook in that part of town.

                                2. Clearly, everyone has their faves, there's no clear winner, and each of these places has their "off" days. I say try 'em all, jfood! Many of us love your reviews, so a JL showdown from your point of view would be a fun read.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: midwaygirl

                                    followed by a lipitor vs zocor showdown.

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      I always figured with the quantity and variety of food that you sample and review, you'd been on lipitor for YEARS!! Or work out to a degree that would make Lance Armstrong proud.... Seriously, I am in awe.

                                        1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                                          I don't know about jfood (sounds like he works too much!), but as a weekend warrior and amateur athlete, I always tell people that my sports and athletic activities support my eating disorder! It helps to justify my eating habits and desires.