3500 Cedar Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55407-2339
What better excuse is there to experience the fruits of a city’s burger offerings than a baseball expedition? The Rev has blogged about it many a time. Wright Stache contributor Misopogon and I have been on a nearly decade-long conquest to visit each and every major league baseball stadium (and whatever minor league ones are within striking distance). Though our torrid pace of 2003-2006 has slowed, we still find time once or twice a year to make a baseball trip, of which experiencing that city’s trademark burger is always an integral part. With the closing of the Metrodome after the 2009 season, we’d planned to visit Minneapolis all summer, but life got in the way and it just didn’t work out… until the Twins and Tigers both won on the last day of the season forcing a tie-breaking 163rd regular season game which a coin-toss determined would be at the cavernous Metrodome. Score! Better yet, Misopogon is a life-long Tigers fan so it took very little arm-twisting. Only two days to arrange travel? No problem… thank you, frequent flier miles (but fuck you Delta/Northwest for charging us $150 each for booking “last minute.” Seriously, fuck you hard.).
It was a quick one — in and out of the Twin Cities in less than 24 hours. Our mission? Baseball and a burger. Some Internet message board perusing turned up Matt’s at 35th and Cedar as a local favorite, as well as an option that worked logistically with our time schedule. Their burger du jour, the “Jucy Lucy” (sic), a burger cooked with piping hot melted cheese in a pocket inside of the beef patty. Tantalizing indeed.
Matt’s is unassuming from the outside and looks like a regular old “locals” bar or diner, a corner establishment in a mostly suburban-looking residential district. Stepping inside, you quickly realize the deal… this is an old-school greasy spoon. There’s a bar most of the length of one side of the room with a small short-order grill at one end, while diner-style tables and booths fill the rest of the room. Business was brisk with plenty of pre-game burger eaters like ourselves (but none others wearing Tigers gear!) but we were seated right away. We enjoyed a local beer whose name escapes me. When the burger came it was wrapped in wax paper and the 50-something lifer waitress warned us to let it cool for a few minutes, lest we burn our mouths when we bite into it and the melted cheese erupts into our delicate palettes.
The burger itself was almost surely made of frozen beef, [Editors note; the beef at Matt’s is fresh, not Frozen] but it packed a pretty decent flavor typical of the best greasy spoon establishments. Not a flavor explosion, but certainly tasty and with plenty of [delicious] grease. The real treat is the melted cheese on the inside that oozes out of the burger once you pierce the edge, like the filling out of a hot pocket (see picture). The cheese was melted much more thoroughly than any ordinary cheeseburger and it added a whole new dimension to the experience. The cheese seemed like American and was good for what it was. Nothing fancy, but nice and hot and served the purpose. The bun was a soft potato roll, methinks.
Of interest, we were never asked how we wanted our burgers cooked. Perhaps our waitress forgot, but more than likely Matt’s only serves one-size-fits-all. As a rare or medium-rare man that was kind of disappointing, but what are you gonna do; the burger certainly wasn’t overcooked and it was tasty anyway. The fries were pretty standard thin-cut fries, not all that different from McDonald’s’ fries in both appearance and taste.
Overall, I wouldn’t say the Jucy Lucy at Matt’s was mind blowing. It was a good, serviceable, greasy spoon burger — better than average — but not great, even with the melted cheese gimmick. Perhaps as a late night, drunken treat it would hit the spot. The other popular burger recommendation in the Twin Cities was a place called the Nook, but because of our limited time frame we couldn’t make the trip over to St. Paul to check it out. Maybe next time.