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Jfood's MSP Burger Tour Continues - 5-8 Club, Not So Great

After another 14-hour day Jfood was bushed. As he drove back to the hotel to change he needed to push himself not to take the easy route and order a burger in the hotel. Fortunately he found himself in his car pushing the buttons on the Nav system to take him to his next stop, 5-8 Supper Club. He arrived around 9PM and found it still bustling with people knee deep in sandwiches and beer. Jfood saddled up to the bar (TV was off, huh?) and grabbed a menu.

He ordered a Juicy Lucy (yes this one has an “i” in Juicy) with fried onions and bacon with rings and fries, plus his customary Root Beer (bottle of IBC). The burger and rings arrived without the fries and Jfood mentioned this to the waitress, oops just a minor miscommunication and off she went to correct. In literature this event is called foreshadowing.

Jfood first tried an onion ring. They were right out of the frozen bag, were regular old ”frozen and into the oil” rings, nothing special, nothing different but at least they had some seasoning, keep reading to understand.

Then Jfood attempted to pick up the burger. To be as kind as possible, this had to be the sloppiness presentation of a burger he has seen in years. The meat was half in – half out of the bun, the bacon looked like it was jabbed into the side as an afterthought and the fried onions looked like they were thrown on the burger. But it did have a fair amount of pickle slices. Jfood reassembled so he could actually move forward. The first bite did not do anything for him flavor-wise, the meat was basically some chop meat, nothing special. When Jfood reached the cheese it reminded him of “Whiz” from a Phill cheesesteak (at least it had some flavor), the fried onions were boiled first and then thrown on the flattop and the bacon was tasteless. Overall there was nothing about this burger that really tickled Jfood's fancy.

The fries arrived and they reminded Jfood of the kind you receive in the cafeteria. Out of the big bag of frozen fries, into some oil and onto a plate. No salt was added after the cooking either. Jfood ate a couple and one of the few times he barely ate any fries with his burger.

Now the inside of this place is great with a nice deck off to the side. The waitress who was handling the deck was busy, busy, busy. The server who handled Jfood was basically absent.

So Jfood cannot place 5-8 anywhere near the category of other great burger places in the MSP area. Although convenient, Jfood would probably go to 5-Guys before heading back to 5-8.

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  1. You've pretty much already hit the great burger places in town. I would add Town Talk Diner to your list and wrap it up.

    1. jfood, I always cringe when I see locals breathlessly recommending this place to visitors (as well as Mickey's Dining Car, Tavern on Grand, and other "some style, no substance" MSP institutions).

      My recommendations may be no better, less subject to debate or disagreeable than any other folks', but I've heard way too many stories like yours that have supported my negative opinion of 5-8. I'm just sorry people keep sending people there to waste their money.

      Although if you love industrial grade deep fried mushrooms (and I do every now and then) it's a great source for that.

      3 Replies
      1. re: MSPD

        I guess sometimes we want to be entertained when we dine and I've always found Mickey's to be that. I also love their cole slaw.

        1. re: MSPD

          I will defend Mickey's as being an excellent representation of diner food. Most of the stuff at Mickey's is homemade and quite tasty for what it is. It is not gourmet and does not pretend to be, but I think it stands up well to diners all over the place. Incidentally, the creator of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (the Food Network show) agrees with me, FWIW.

          1. re: mtullius

            The pancakes and omelets at Mickey's -- both of which I enjoyed just this morning -- are outstanding. Any diner in any city would be lucky to have them on their menus.

        2. It's bar food and nothing more. The Nook, Matt's, 5-8 Club are selling neighborhood, atmosphere and local tradition, not gourmet. If 5 Guys turns you on more than 5-8 Club then so be it. I'd rather sit at the bar at 5-8 Club than stand in line for 30 minutes eating shelled peanuts at 5 Guys. As far as burgers go, neither is a culinary treasure to remember.

          I don't know if the burger venture is done yet. Have you tried Ike's on Sixth in Minneapolis? Have you gone out to the distant 'burb of Eden Prairie and tried Lion's Tap? Have you tried, not to be confused by the name, Lyon's Pub on Sixth? If you sit at the bar in Lyon's Pub that root beer is free. If you are around on Monday, Lord Fletcher's on Lake Minnetonka has a "Manic Monday" promotion for 2 to 9 PM selling full half-pound burgers outside on the dock for $4 along with 99 cent bottled Miller Lite and MGD beer. They have a grill set up outside and serve cafeteria style. Cheeseburgers are $1 extra and the lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle are free for dressing yourself. Fries, onion rings and other kinds of beers are extra and will cost you more than the beer and burger together. Scenery is great to boot both boat and bootie.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Davydd

            I agree. Two other neighborhood (south Minneapolis) burgers I like are found at the Band Box Diner and Our Kitchen.

            1. re: Davydd

              Jfood's first burger in town was Lion's Tap, eh. Nice guy and jfood chatted with him while he waited but burger did not do much for him.

              Jfood just returned east and made a Jucy with Brie. Pretty tasty but needed someting to kick it up a little.

              1. re: jfood

                Yeah, it definitely had no chance of ending your quest for the best burger. However, I think they do a very good job for the price point. They have a ubiquitous coupon that knocks $3 off the bill when two are dining. Plus, the patio is quite nice.

                I also really like the onion straws, but I don't think I can defend them chowishly.

              2. re: Davydd

                do you rec the burger at ike's Davydd? because it better be pretty good, ike's is the only place in town that has the bollocks to charge $20 for a bacon-cheeseburger,, and there's way too much sysco paraphernalia around that joint for my taste, so i don't think they're using the local hand ground grassfed. . .

                i'd think some of the steakhouses 'round town might be good candidates for showing up next on Jfood's burger tour.

                1. re: soupkitten

                  I know I'm not Davydd, but Ike's is consistently my favorite burger in town. I love the Supreme at the Nook, but an Ike's burger with Widmer's and fried onions is still my favorite.

                  Well-seasoned, house-ground beef that tastes beefy, griddled onions, a bun like a pillow, a rack of sauces to dump on my fries but never on my burger...Ike's ALWAYS gets my temp correct (something even the Nook and 112 have messed up on a couple occasions and which the Shamrock, Bulldog, and Buster's have done regularly) which is important to me, but perhaps not others.

                  And while I'd gladly pay $20 for this burger, the bacon must be $8 extra because I think a cheeseburger with fries at Ike's is in the $12 range. I never really pay attention...

                  1. re: Foureyes137

                    I second this. They have a burger called something like the "heart attack" or "artery clogger" or something like that. Bacon, cheddar, grilled onions, and fried egg. Juicy, messy, and delicious! As foureyes said, I remember it being like $12, including fries. I think I still have to rank the Juicy Nookie nubmer one on my twin cities burger list, but Ike's is probably second.

                    1. re: Foureyes137

                      Just got off the phone with Ike's- they don't have a functioning website for some weird reason. The 'too much sysco paraphernalia' comment got me worried . I was sure their burger was sirloin. The person there told me the reg. burger is black angus, not frozen, not sirloin though. I do think it's excellent and they always get the cooking temp right for me too. She did say there is a newer burger called 'Roadhouse' that is a blend of prime rib and sirloin...anyone had that one yet?

                    2. re: soupkitten

                      Towards that end, the Capital grille makes a good burger. Unfortunately, it's only on the lunch menu and although they said they'd make it for dinner on request, I'd be leary of doing that. My comments on Capital's burger : probably the best meat I’ve had, smoky and full of flavor. The bun was not toasted which is a turnoff for me. You get what you pay for here and at $15 this one is price appropriate.

                  2. I'll concur with jfood's opinion. I've never understood why people are sent to 5-8 (or why it is busy). It has been underwhelming at best.

                    That said, if you're forced to eat there, the garlic cheeseburger isn't bad. Not worth making a trip for, but if you have to eat there, at least it tastes like something.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Danny

                      heh. my parents used to go on dates at the 5-8 with the other servicemen & women. my grandparents who lived down the road would go there occasionally. it isn't good food, it's a local supperclub that has other important functions, some of which are becoming obsolete as folks die off.

                      that said, Jfood's burger saga has been interesting to follow, and the 5-8 and matt's bar are "old-school" msp neighborhood burger joints that are important--any survey of msp burgers would be incomplete w/out them, after all-- but we probably shouldn't get too carried away with saying these are the be-all-end-all burgers in town.

                      i personally will very rarely will ever order a restaurant burger & didn't eat them *anywhere* for over a year after getting a real turd at a local establishment. . . but it's been a little fun to get back into them recently.

                      1. re: soupkitten

                        Add to that Minneapolis' vague liquor zoning laws which for many years left the 5-8 as the only place to get 'real' beer (as opposed to 3.2 'near' beer) for miles around.

                        1. re: MplsM ary

                          Convention Grill and Barbette still need trying by jfood.

                          1. re: faith

                            gotcha. week after next maybe

                            1. re: jfood

                              if (when) jfood makes it to convention grill he will have more than the usual non-alcoholic beverage options. the malts are to die for (real banana? yes please) as are the phosphates, in a flourescently died kinda way.

                    2. My first ever JL was from the 5-8. I really wanted to like it, but it never did much for me. I could never put my finger on what the cheese tasted like, but I think Whiz is about the best description I can give it. I won't completely bag on the place, but if someone comes to town looking for a Juicy Lucy, I'll send them to the Nook or Matt's first.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: BigE

                        I had a blue cheese Lucy at 5-8 that I'm pretty sure wasn't stuffed with Cheese Whiz.

                      2. Ever tried the Blue Door Pub in St. Paul? Fresh local ingredients and more interesting than the neighborhood bar-food places. They make a to-die-for black bean burger, plus all the usual suspects. All that and microbrews too!

                        1 Reply
                        1. jfood,

                          Next time you're in town, pop into a gas station or store and pick up the current issue of Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine. It's their "Best Burgers" issue and there's quite a bit of good info in there.

                          Of course, like anything else on here, it's great fodder for debate. They ranked Smashburger and The 5-8 Club at the top of their respective categories. I'm sure I've bored everyone to tears (or worse) with my thoughts on that already.

                          16 Replies
                          1. re: MSPD

                            Are you serious MSPD ?!? Why would you want to waste $5 on a rag that is 90% advertising? I find it almost impossible to "read" because of the this oversaturation. Furthermore, as you mentioned their recent infatuation with SmashBurger is really odd. It sounds like Platt, March, and Dorwart are drooling at the prospect of another 30 SmashBurger franchises popping up all over the Twin Cities. Is this what the standard of the local food media has become?

                            1. re: DiningDog

                              Yes. Listen, I wasn't universally endorsing MSP Mag. To a visitor interested in a decent, portable, single reference guide to burgers in MSP, $5 for this month's issue is a fair value. I also keep one in the car simply because it has the hours/days and phone numbers of hundreds of restaurants in it, something that I use quite often.

                              Feel free to elighten me/us on any other $5 portable guide that covers 75% of the burgers around MSP (and, yeah, I'm aware of Minnesota Monthly magazine).

                              1. re: MSPD

                                I haven't looked at this month's MSP mag yet (except to notice the cover), but Rachel Hutton did a nice burger round-up in City Pages about a month ago. That one's free. :)

                                But, what a smart idea, keeping a copy of MSP mag in your car as a handy reference.

                                *fishes old MSP mag out of recycling bin and puts it next to purse for next car outing*

                                Personally, I'm pretty dang tired of all the burger talk in MSP. I know it's inexpensive and accessible; isn't there something else inexpensive and accessible we do well in the Twin Cities?

                                Maybe we can fan the flames around grilled cheese or BLT sandwiches for awhile? With tomato season reaching its peak, where is the best BLT sammie in the Twin Cities?


                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  We could discuss pizza or ice cream!

                                  (ducks for cover)

                                  1. re: MSPD

                                    Oy! Or could it be this is the 20th or even 200th jucy lucy thread?

                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    Yes, where is the best BLT or Grilled Cheese or even Home-made Hand-Pulled Beef Noodle Soup that should exist in the Twin Cities by the flood of the Fujianese immigrants!

                                    1. re: scoopG

                                      There's a flood of Fujianese immigrants to the Twin Cities? For real?

                                      Is there any hand-pulled beef noodle soup in MSP


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Yes! In a pattern of reverse internal migration from over 125 years ago when the Cantonese spread East from California, today East Broadway in NYC is the starting point for the Fujianese. Last figures I've seen is at least 300,000 Fujian immigrants have arrived in the USA in the last 20 years. On my last visit to MN in June I overheard some folks speaking their local Fuzhou dialect. In the "Fortune Cookie Chronicles" Jennfier 8. Lee writes of how most Chinese restaurants in the USA are bought and sold. And most of these Chinese restaurants are being bought Fujianese. It is easier to buy an existing place than open a new one. Ads are placed in local Chinese newspapers or even in the Chinese language World Journal in NYC. (They list Chinese restaurants for sale all over the USA.) Sale price is usually three times the monthly revenue. The prospective buyer checks the place out first by working there for several weeks to learn the ropes. No change in the restaurant name or menu and no fancy "Grand Opening" signs - just a new person at the till!

                                        1. re: scoopG

                                          Funny. I was at the Chinese take-out place on Chicago Ave (just a block or so North of Lake St.) a couple of weeks ago and they've changed their name to "Fortune Cookie"--it bills itself as a "New York Style" Chinese restaurant. I asked about 4 million questions (as I always do)...I could only learn that NY style meant everything had brown sauce on it and that the place wasn't "new" because it's been there 30 years, even though the signage and ownership (I think) is new.

                                          Sadly, I thought the food was only okay, or I would have posted about it here. Maybe they just need time to settle in. The manager (or owner or...) was eating a snack of his own that looked awesome. Some kind of bao and a soup. Another customer and I were gawking and saying, "What is that? Put that on the menu!"


                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            If the place changes their name it could be for liability issues - the new owner can refuse anyone who shows up with some old invoice claiming he/she is owed money. One place that comes to mind is Nanking Chow Mein on 54th and Nicollet - been there 50+ years and I am sure it has changed hands many many times. Love the "NY Style" reference, whether it is to bagels, pizza or Chinese! Most times we end up with the familiar line, "You call that a bagel?" Same thing happened to Bernie Madoff on his first night in jail. When told his cell was like a "NYC closet" he snorted, "you call this a closet?"

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              I attempted to go in and check out the 'NY Style' Chinese place but was met with a cloud of burnt-grease odor at the front door. Must have been a problem in the kitchen- I didn't get any further. I wanted to ask what 'nyc style' meant exactly... I would think chinese food in nyc would be good.

                                              1. re: faith

                                                Yep, that's the place!

                                                The cream cheese won tons were good, although, of course, that's MN style Chinese, and not NYC-style...


                                        2. re: scoopG

                                          Ask and you shall receive: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/639203

                                          Best grilled cheese thread...if only they'd asked about tomato soup to accompany!


                                        3. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          Amen. Here are my suggestions.

                                          Best Pad Thai
                                          Best Pho
                                          Best Steak under $25

                                          Plenty of things to get obsessed about.

                                    2. re: MSPD

                                      Here are the end results online, minus the article itself.


                                      Hat tip to the Heavy Table website for posting this link in today's Churn section.

                                      1. re: KTFoley

                                        I do have to note that in light of the previous 'apples vs oranges' discussion on this board, re: creating different categories of burgers within which to rank them, that MSP mag created no less than 5 separate categories including one for Juicy Lucys. I don't know if even I would have gone as far as that many....