I have a confession to make. Despite living in Minnesota—and in the greater Twin Cities metro area—for almost exactly 14 years now, I’ve never had a Jucy Lucy at Matt’s Bar, or for that matter at any other restaurant in the area. Yes, I’ve made my own versions at home but I’ve never eaten it at Matt’s Bar or at any of the other places that claim to make the ur version. If you’re not from Minnesota and not up on your Twin Cities cliches you may not know what a Jucy Lucy is: it’s a cheeseburger where the cheese is in a hollow inside the beef patty, where it melts as the patty cooks and comes oozing out when you bite into it. Sounds a bit repulsive, yes, and it is but there are contexts in which it makes sense. And at any rate the Fifth Law of Thermodynamics states that one must not enter one’s 15th year in a region without having eaten all of its iconic, if occasionally dubious, culinary specialties. Having now eaten a Jucy Lucy from Matt’s, I believe I have all the local iconic specialties covered but long time Minnesotans and Twin Citizens should feel free to test me.
What was the context in which this Jucy Lucy was eaten? Well, the younger brat turned 10 on Sunday. He is a big fan of the burgers I grill on our deck once a month (trying to cut back on the red meat) and back in May I made him his first burger with the cheese inside the meat. He liked it very much and asked for it to be added to the menu for his birthday meals. As it turned out we decided to go to Lake Nokomis for the first half of the day today. Usually when there we get food from the excellent Sandcastle. But they don’t make a Jucy Lucy and Matt’s Bar is just up the road. And so.
If anyone has any doubt that in-person dining in Minnesota is outpacing the rate of vaccination they should enter Matt’s on a weekend. The place was heaving. And there was not a mask to be seen. I can only hope that everyone there over the age of 12 had been vaccinated. It’s not exactly a large, well-spaced place. To what degree it’s a bar anymore, I don’t know. Most people seemed to be there to eat. I had called in a takeout order and this thankfully allowed me to skip the long line of people awaiting tables. We enjoyed our burgers al fresco off the beach at Lake Nokomis.
What did we get? A couple of Jucy Lucys, a regular cheeseburger and an unadorned burger for the older brat who likes his burgers uncontaminated by anything vegetable or dairy in origin—hopefully this will pass at some point. And a rather massive amount of fries (pro tip: a single large order of fries will be more than enough for a family of four). How was it all? Well, it’s besides the point, isn’t it? We enjoyed the food fine but at least the two adults are in no hurry to repeat the experience.
Launch the slideshow below for a look at the place and the food. Scroll down to see what’s coming next.
Oh yes, we ate at Tenant last week and that review was supposed to be published today. However, my email to the restaurant asking for details on the dishes has not yet been answered and so I’ve pushed it off to next week when I’ll post the review whether I have the details or not. I’m also going to be in Kansas City for a few days soon. The plan is to eat a lot of barbecue but also other things besides. You can probably expect Kansas City food reports to turn into a brief, bonus side-hustle for a week or two.
When you can, maybe try eating in at Matt’s. I think there’s something about the environment and crowd of people enjoying their burgers might make a difference.
We’ve always eaten in, and I am still not sure why exactly we love Matt’s. I mean, you can only get onions and pickles on your burger – that’s it. No mayo, no special sauce, blah blah. I would normally chafe at this prospect anywhere else, but here, it works. I typically just get the double cheeseburger as opposed to the Lucy. They are both excellent I think. They did recently change bun supplier I noticed, to a typical supermarket brand. So this was surprising, but in the Covid world, not unexpected. They may have already gone back to their usual supplier, don’t know.
Anyway, maybe give it one more chance later this year.