Bite into Minnesota’s singular burger to find its heart of gold
Every state has a food they are famous for—a culinary curiosity that links history or heritage—like funeral potatoes in Utah.
In Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes, you’ll find the battle for the best state food raging mightily around the Juicy Lucy.
The Juicy Lucy is a burger that’s stuffed with American cheese (and many other things) to create a grease-filled monster cheeseburger the likes of which few but Minnesotans have seen before. They typically come with a warning to let them cool before taking your first bite, or the melted cheese and grease will burn you. It’s worth waiting for, though.
Allegiances to exactly where the Juicy Lucy was first served in the Gopher state and who currently makes the best version are weighty. Having spent time in Minneapolis during several business trips this year, I made it my mission to put the Juicy Lucy to the test—sampling versions both new and old.
New to the Juicy Lucy scene is The Blue Door—home of the Blucy—patties filled with blue cheese and garlic and eight other varieties of stuffed burgers. Given my love of blue cheese and the proliferation of locations around the Twin Cities, it was a solid entrance into the Juicy Lucy scene, although the meat around the scalding cheese was overdone and dry—a characteristic I’m told is prevalent because of the time and heat needed to melt the cheese inside.
Next up was the 5-8 Club, originally founded as a speakeasy in 1928. The 5-8 Club regularly battles it out with Matt’s Bar as the Juicy Lucy’s originator and has been featured on The Travel Channel and in Time Magazine. Here, there are six options for Juicy Lucys including the classic version filled with your choice of American, blue, pepperjack or Swiss. I elected to try the Saucy Sally, which was filled with American and a secret sauce (let’s say it was Big Mac-esque) and then topped with more American cheese, shredded lettuce and Thousand Island dressing. It was an amazing gut bomb that required copious amounts of napkins to handle and was well worth seeking out.
Back in the Beehive State, if you’d like to try a Juicy Lucy without going all the way to Minnesota, stop in at Bourbon House (19 E. 200 South, SLC, 801-746-1005, BourbonHouseSLC.com). Their version is a black angus burger stuffed with fontina cheese and roasted garlic aioli and ranks as one of my favorite burgers in Salt Lake City. In true Juicy Lucy style, an order even squirted hot cheese grease all over my husband’s dress shirt on our way to the opera one evening. Ah, the memories.
And it turns out that Utahns like Bourbon House’s Juicy Lucy as much as Minnesotans like theirs. Executive chef Matt Crandall says he took it off the menu once, “and we almost had riots—people were pissed!” So, the Juicy Lucy is here to stay. Thanks, Minnesota.