On the Road Eats: Juicy Lucy at Crooked Pint Ale House in Minneapolis. The Juicier, the Better-er!
Behold: The Hangover Lucy
If you find yourself in Minneapolis—like I was only a week ago when I was on the first leg of the MasterChef open call casting tour, acting as casting food judge—then you are obligated to investigate with your mouth the marvelousness of the Juicy Lucy. Evidently created in the great "10,000 lakes" state of Minnesota, this mouthwatering burger impregnated with cheese promises to scald your gob with hot liquified cheese, usually the American variety.
Like with many quirky, regional delights (I'm thinking Pat's vs. Geno's in that perpetual Philly cheesesteak showdown), there is also a rivalry and ongoing battle regarding who invented the Juicy Lucy. The two eateries claiming Juicy Lucy OG status are Matt's Bar and the 5-8 Club. The two cheese-stuffed burger joints are just down the street from each other on Cedar Avenue (much like Pat's and Geno's similar close proximity geographically). Matt's Bar spells their burger without the "i" as in Jucy Lucy and states: "Remember, if it is spelled correctly, you are eating a shameless rip-off!" While at the 5-8 Club, the claim is "If it's spelled right, it's done right."
However, I didn't sink into a Juicy Lucy at either spot. For one, my hotel was too far and my schedule too tight, plus I was eating and judging all day, so my appetite wasn't huge, therefore I couldn't conduct my own Juicy Lucy face-off. Instead, I opted to try creative Juicy Lucys at a pub called Crooked Pint located near the fascinating Mill District where an old mill ruin has been repurposed as sort of a luxury-theatre area near the Guthrie Theatre.
Crooked Pint boasts seven oddball Juicy Lucys, none of which is a purely Juicy Lucy, which traditionally is a beef patty stuffed with American cheese, grilled till the cheese is liquified and gushes out at first breach. So, this Juicy Lucery stays out of the "original creator" fray by grilling their Lucys to a different drum machine.
How weird are Crooked Pint's Lucys? Pretty weird. You can get everything from a spicy cheese version named Hot Lips Lucy that comes with serrano peppers, habanero jack, sautéed onions, and spicy bistro sauce to a PB & Bacon Lucy that's not technically a Lucy since it's not filled with cheese, but rather hot peanut butter is the incendiary taste. There's also a pizza-ish Lucy that injects fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, parmesan with marinara all on a toasted bun.
The one that spoke to me was the Hangover Lucy. Not because I was hungover (I wasn't), but because I liked the sound of ham and cheese inside the beef patty, all topped with a fried egg—this Lucy can practically be called Old MacDonald's Lucy since it has pig, chicken, cow, and queso represented. Moo-moo here, goo-goo there!
The warning that comes with every Lucy is that you shouldn't chomp immediately into one. Either let it cool a bit or slowly pierce the burger with your teeth or a utensil to release some of the high heat. Many a Juicy Lucy virgin are on the unfortunate receiving end of a hot goo shot of liquid cheese—humiliating and painful.
My Juicy Lucy was tasty, although smaller and less "juicy" than I would've liked it. I do appreciate the variety and creativity, but I'll always want my Lucy juicier any day.
Crooked Pint Ale House
501 Washington Ave S