One of the two Cedar Avenue establishments that claim to serve the “original” Lucy (the other being 5-8, see below), Matt’s Bar is the only one that has been immortalized by Michael Birawer. It’s also been featured in multiple cable network showdowns with its main rival and, so far as I know, won each time. Who am I to argue? Matt’s Jucy Lucy (they said if it’s spelled wrong, it’s the right “Jucy”) is a marvel of burger engineering. Whatever it takes to keep that cheese inside its chamber and not seeping into the surrounding meat, they do it perfectly!
Casper & Runyon’s Nook
Matt’s and 5-8 are the Geno’s and Pat’s of Minneapolis, but ask any native Philadelphian and they’ll tell you the best cheesesteaks to be had aren’t found at either. In that spirit, it’s entirely possible that the best Lucy in the Cities isn’t at either. Anyone who’s tried the cheese-filled burgers at the Nook in St. Paul (right next to Cretin-Derham Hall) knows they contend. How can they not? They’ve got more bounce to the ounce. I suspect they also have more ounces of cheese, for that matter; it spills out simply everywhere!
The Blue Door Pub
I introduced some New Yorker friends to the concept of Juicy Lucys by taking them to the Blue Door Pub, where they call them Juicy Blucys. When the burgers were served, one of my friends fainted onto the table. As it turned out, he wasn’t reacting to the overwhelming shock of being served the ultimate in comfort food but, instead, to dehydration. Either way, appropriate. I want to give Blue Door higher marks than they end up earning, because no one else has found more innovative twists on the Lucy template. (Their Breakfast Blucy — topped with cheese, bacon and a fried egg — is worth the instant cardiac arrest.) The only glitch? They haven’t quite managed to figure out how to keep the cheese pool from seeping into the surrounding meat pocket.
Among the non-nonsense bars throughout the Twin Cities who have expanded their short-order repertoire into the field of Lucys, Adrian’s Tavern on Chicago is one of my favorites. In contrast to Matt’s, where the meat is lean and firmly packed, Adrian’s serves up their melted cheese between two sizable hunks of beef. If you’re a hard-line carnivore in search of a Lucy fix, this is your place.
Groveland Tap’s standard issue Lucy isn’t so stellar that it would merit a special trip if you’re jonseing for a cheese-splosion. But if you like your meat-n-cheese piñatas to come in a spicier variety, you need to try their special Cajun Lucy. (And try the broasted chicken while you’re there.)
The 5-8 Club
5800 Cedar Avenue South,
Minneapolis, MN 55417-2648
OK, I’ve saved it for last not because I think it’s the least of these, but because I almost feel like 5-8 and Matt’s have restraining orders out on each other, and I figure a buffer of four other entries just about covers that. Speaking objectively, there’s one thing 5-8 has on Matt’s: multiple cheese options. Whereas Matt’s only offers gooey American cheese, 5-8 gives you the choice between American, Swiss, Blue and Pepper Jack. And, for everyone who’s had enough cheese inside their burgers, they’ve also come up with the Saucy Sally, which is stuffed with secret sauce.
Eric Henderson is a web producer at WCCO.COM.