While up in Minnesota, my travels brought me to Matt’s Bar for lunch one day.
Located at 3500 Cedar Ave, S in Minneapolis, Matt’s isn’t exactly where I expected to get a burger my grandfather made a point to tell me about before I left for vacation. Truth be told, I was a little surprised by the appearance. On the outside, Matt’s is nearly nondescript. The only thing that sets it apart is the big sign, but that’s it. When looking at the building, and even walking inside, the words “dive bar” immediately come to mind. In 2008, Jay Boller wrote an article on the Jucy Lucy and he describes Matt’s better than I could:
If you have ever been to a VFW, you already know what the inside of Matt’s looks like. Retro gold tiles covering the walls, a dark stained wood bar, and brown vinyl booths and stools create the feeling of a place your grandpa would have taken you when you were a kid. With that raspy voice of his from years of drinking whiskey and smoking Lucky’s in dives like this, he would tell you to eat your pickles and don’t make a mess.*
In Matt’s, the kitchen isn’t behind any swinging doors, it’s right there tucked away in the corner behind the counter. A bearded fry cook with dreadlocks paced back and forth between the fryer and grill wordlessly and the aroma in the air was fantastic. Despite the packed appearance and the line, there were only 3 people working. The bartender, the waitress and the aforementioned fry cook. Yet, despite the fact there was only the three of them, burgers were being brought to tables fairly quickly and the wait to sit down wasn’t too long.
When we were seated no menu’s were given out, not that they were necessary. If you’re going to Matt’s, you’re getting a Jucy Lucy. Elise, her Mum, and I each ordered a Jucy Lucy and a basket of fries to split between the three of us. The wait to sit hadn’t been that bad, but waiting for the burger was horrible. It wasn’t that long a wait, fifteen minutes tops, but the anticipation made it feel longer. When the waitress returned with the burgers and fries she smiled and added before she left “caution, they’re hot.” Naturally they would be, they were fresh off the grill.
I unwrapped the wax paper and tentatively took a bite of the burger, completely disregarding the fries, and her advice for that matter. Hot cheese and juice oozed out all over my thumbs and goodness heavens, it was hot. Thankfully, there’s no lasting damage to my hands, but I had burns on my thumbs. Heat aside, the burger was delicious and it was a great exercise in patience not to delve right back in and continue eating it. While I waited for the burger to cool to a semblance of safe eating temperature, I sipped cherry coke and ate fries. As with everything else, the fries weren’t extraordinary or spectacular. They were just fries and they came in handy to get any excess juices off of the wax paper from the burger.
Once the burger had cooled, I was able to continue eating it. Each bite was really delicious and it oozed cheese and oil making it one of the juciest burgers I’ve ever eaten. Would I like to go back and have another one? Of course. Will I? Naturally, I just have to get back to Minnesota again. If you’re in that area and enjoy a good burger from time to time, I recommend you take the trip out to Matt’s and get it. It was well worth the wait.
Now to find a burger here in CT that matches up (not likely)…
* to read more about another writer’s take on Matt’s and the other location for the Jucy Lucy (though, not the original mind you) read here.