Things We Like: The Jucy Lucy at Matt's Bar
The burger was well-done on the outside, with liquefied cheese oozing out its insides.
Matt’s Bar and Grill in Minneapolis has a dive vibe inside and out — familiar, cozy and no-nonsense. Near the entrance, signs lay out the rules: "Cash or checks only"; "No ice. No plates. We blew the budget in napkins”; and "Seating goes down when your whole party arrives."
Scanning the rows of full tables and vinyl booths, I understood why.
I’d been introduced to the Jucy Lucy legend years ago in a North Dakota bar much like Matt’s. The new-to-me concept of a burger with cheese in the middle was a revelation I ne’er forgot, and to be able to experience it at this landmark locale was exciting to say the least.
The walls are covered in gold metallic wallpaper, wood paneling and framed accolades and mentions in Food & Wine Magazine and the Food Network along with photos of former President Barack Obama dining in-house.
Matt’s Bar touts a simple menu of burgers, a chicken sandwich, lemonade, sweet tea and sodas. Prices range from $8.75 for a Jucy Lucy to $2 for coffee and $3.95 for a grilled cheese.
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Not long after placing the order, our server placed our wax paper-covered burgers before us.
“Very hot. Wait a few minutes. All right?” she warned.
We started on the fresh-cut, perfectly crispy and lightly salted fries. Even sharing a full order, there was too much for us. Next time, I’m ordering the half, folks.
Finally biting into my Jucy Lucy, it was zingy and scrumptious with a few pickles and an abundance of finely chopped, caramelized onions. The burger was well-done on the outside, with liquefied cheese oozing out its insides. It's kind of a race to eat before the rich, creamy goodness spills out, a dining feat I was happy to dive into.
Snuggled on the corner of Minneapolis’ Cedar Avenue and East 35th South, Matt’s Bar and Grill is a compact space with nothing left unused, and servers lined in and out of the basement kitchen holding hot-hot-hot fare.
A hockey game played on a TV as Pink Floyd and “Wagon Wheel” floated out from the sound system.
We shared tight quarters with other guests, and each bump of a chair or accidental nudge from a passerby was followed by a very courteous and good-natured “pardon” or "'scuse me.” I was oddly charmed with each interaction.
Chalk it up to the cheese high.
Matt's Bar and Grill
3500 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis