Ask any Minnesotan and they will tell you who makes the best Juicy Lucy. The debates online can be a little intense. The fans take their burgers seriously! But to find the perfect Juicy Lucy, you need to go to the source. One problem, who invented it? There are two bars that claim to be the inventor. The bars are only three miles from each other adding to the drama.
The Juicy Lucy Origins
The two bars that claim to have originated the burger are the 5-8 Club and Matts. The 5-8 Club claims that in 1950’s The Juicy Lucy was born. They don’t get into the nitty-gritty details.
Matts Bar in Minneapolis, on the other hand, said that shortly after they opened in 1954 a local asked for two burger patties with a slice of cheese in the middle. Thus the Juicy Lucy was born.
The 5-8 Club features a half-pound patty, filled with the cheese of your choice and grilled to a flat top. They serve it on a bakery fresh bun, made daily and top it with some pickles.
Matts only come filled with American cheese. They have a nice char on the outside and are you have the option of having raw or cooked onions and some pickles on the bottom.
Seeing as though I’m a recovering vegetarian, I’m not the best person to judge a challenge like this. I know bread, veggies, and sides. My husband, on the other hand, know’s his meats.
To prove his expertise we even hosted a rib-making competition once. My husband jumped at the opportunity to help me determine who has the best Juicy Lucy.
The 5-8 Club was very easy to find. It’s right off Cedar, just north of hwy 62. Ample parking outside and enough seating to accommodate everyone. I ordered way too much food. I got a standard Juicy Lucy with American Cheese but opted to get sweet potato fries instead of traditional ones.
Since the menu indicated that it takes a little while longer for a Juicy Lucy, we decided to get an order of fried pickles too. They were more like salted pickle chips. They sliced the pickle so thin, there wasn’t much left. I was disappointed because I’d been hunting for a local place that sells the MN State Fair’s version of fried pickles.
The bun was freshly baked as promised and held up great against the mammoth burger. The pickles that topped the sandwich were standard cut, thankfully. And the burger was very moist.
Every bite was oozing with cheese. I was only able to make it halfway through before I had to give up. I couldn’t even attempt my mound of sweet potato fries that came with the meal. My husband could not believe that I was actually eating a burger.
Pulling up, you know immediately that this place was going to be a dive. That’s not always a bad thing. The place was packed so you knew that the food was going to be good. With the limited menu, we got right down to it. “Two Jucy Lucy’s and an order of fries please”. The grill was right behind the bar. It never saw a moment rest.
The food came wrapped up in paper and fried in a basket. There is no need to mess around with plates here. The burgers were cooked through but still very Jucy.
The cheese was bubbling hot. All in all it was a good burger. The bun was lacking a little and the fries were just ok. A word of caution, Matts is a cash-only bar, so bring enough! They do have a cash machine on hand if your eyes get a little bigger than your wallet.
And the Winer is?
While both were good, we preferred the 5-8 clubs the best. The atmosphere, the menu offering and everything else put it over the top. My husband loved getting to pick out his preferred cheese.
As far as who created the first one? My guess is that there was a disgruntled cook that left shortly after it started and went to the other bar before word got out. Seeing as those they have invented 60+ years ago, there may be someone that knows the truth. But they better speak up soon, because it may die with them.
Since the Juicy Lucy has gained popularity, many other bars are offering their own twist on the cheese-stuffed burger. What is your favorite?