Minnesota – 15204 Miles Driven.
Minnesota is the birthplace of a very special burger with two restaurants famed above the rest for serving them. These notoriously bitter rivals both believe their burger is the original, the best, and the correctly spelt. In the battle of the cheese-stuffed beef burger it’s the Juicy Lucy from the 5-8 Club versus the Jucy Lucy from Matt’s Bar.
Opened in 1928 during America’s Prohibition, 5-8 originally operated as an illicit drinking establishment more commonly known as a speakeasy. Some time in the 1950s the Juicy Lucy was added to the menu, and ever since then the 5-8 Club has decorated its historical timeline with burger accolades aplenty. Over the years the restaurant has changed ownership numerous times, and other locations have opened as franchises. I ate at the original Minneapolis location.
The not so helpful server for the night couldn’t or wouldn’t disclose much information on 5-8 nor the Juicy Lucy. She did explain that it’s a burger made from a lump of American cheese encased in two ¼ lb. house made beef patties, served in a bun. Aside from a few added pickle slices, that’s it. Owing to the cheese being piping hot, diners are warned to take their first bite with caution. Of course by the time I finished taking far too many photos my burger was lukewarm at best, but that didn’t detract from it being very good. It seems cheese in a burger as opposed to on a burger works rather well. The slightly charmless server may not have made the best first impression, but fortunately the Juicy Lucy she served made up for it.
Matt’s Bar & Grill
Matt’s was opened by original owner Matt Bristol in 1954. Shortly afterwards a customer asked Matt for the cheese in his cheeseburger to be served in the burger instead of on top of it. He got his wish and on taking his first bite declared his burger to be ‘one juicy Lucy’. The burger was an instant hit, and in celebration Matt got branded t-shirts printed. The finished product had the ‘i’ in ‘Jucy’ missing, no one knows why but the spelling stuck.
The burger like the restaurant itself has remained pretty much the same since 1954, two seasoned ¼ lb. beef patties moulded around American cheese, served in a bun with chopped onions and a few pickles. Other than burgers and fries there’s not a great deal else on the menu, it’s much more limited than the extensive 5-8’s. There was plenty of charm and character oozing from this low key establishment, and plenty of cheese oozing from the Jucy Lucy burger to match. All the staff have worked there for a number of years and unlike the server from 5-8, don’t seem to mind questions relating to the history of the burger or restaurant. It was a great greasy burger served in the perfect place to enjoy it.
I’d take the rivalry between Matt’s and 5-8 with a pinch of salt, it can only help generate business for both restaurants. The cheese in the middle concept could be argued as a gimmick, but there’s no disputing that the cheese is far more melted when cooked inside the burger than when it’s served on top, and both Matt’s and 5-8’s versions were very good. But for me there could only be one winner. For the atmosphere, for sticking to what they’re good at and not selling out, and for the poor grammar, my vote goes to Matt’s Jucy Lucy.
5-8 Club is located at; 5800 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN. Telephone; +1 (612) 55417 2648
Matt’s Bar and Grill is located at; 3500 Cedar Ave S., Minneapolis, MN 55407. Telephone; +1 (612) 722 7072 or +1 (612) 729 9936.