Matt’s Bar, Minneapolis
So if you read my recap of The 5-8 Club, you know the basics of the Juicy Lucy and that I consider 5-8 to serve the superior burger compared to its Cedar Avenue rival, Matt’s Bar. Ergo, you know that this is the runner-up in my opinion.
But that’s not to say Matt’s serves a bad burger. In fact, it’s far from it, and a lot of people swear by Matt’s as both the creator and the perfecter of the Jucy Lucy. Actually, now is the time to explain that spelling. At Matt’s, when the burger was created, it was placed on the menu without the I in juicy, and Matt’s chose never to correct the spelling, a distinction from 5-8 that remains to this day.
I believe Matt’s is the only place that spells it without the I, and the restaurant’s staff has been known to wear shirts that say, “If it’s spelled right, you’re at the wrong place.” 5-8’s staff, on the other hand, have worn shirts with the slogan, “If it’s spelled right, it’s done right.”
Regardless of how it’s spelled, where Matt’s differs from 5-8 is the way it serves its burgers and the basic menu available. You won’t find the abundance of choices that 5-8 offers here. Matt’s menu offers only 12 things, and three of them are beverages. They say it’s like going back to the 1950’s and they mean it.
Matt’s Jucy Lucy is served only one way, with American cheese. They cook it until the cheese has liquified, which results in a total mess and a burger that gets covered in the stuff. It also means that you really, really can’t bite into this thing immediately. The heat from melted cheese is bad enough if you don’t wait at 5-8. At Matt’s, with molten cheese oozing out of your burger, your mouth is really in trouble if you’re too overeager.
That can be a bit of an issue here, because the length of time that they cook their burgers means that you will be waiting a while to get your hands on a Jucy Lucy. I do not recommend going to Matt’s with an empty stomach, as you will have to wait a good while before you can actually eat.
Once you do get to eat, though, it’s a good experience. The burger is hot throughout and the molten cheese does work nicely on the burger. If you’ve ever had really good cheese fries, you know how melted cheese can make things better. The liquid cheese does the same thing, it’s just a little hotter than the melted cheese. If that’s the way you like it, you’re probably going to be very satisfied with a visit to Matt’s.
The one other thing I’m not a fan of is the drink option here. Most sit-down places offer refills in a glass, but Matt’s just goes with a can of soda. It’s served ice-cold, but it’s so little to drink when you’re going to need it to keep your mouth cool from the Jucy. That’s one example where it’d be fine to move forward from the 1950’s.
Otherwise, it’s a quality burger and solid fries to go with it. It’s not my favorite of the Juicy Lucies, but it’s still worth eating. Who knows, you might disagree with me and prefer Matt’s. That’s the beauty of trying things for yourself.
Time to go: Lunch/dinner/late night. Matt’s is routinely open past midnight. For a neighborhood bar, that’s peculiar, but I’m not going to take issue with it.
Wait during my visit: Not long to get a seat, very long to eat. You will wait a while for your meal here.
Location: Matt’s is at 3500 Cedar Avenue South in Minneapolis. It’s located three miles north of 5-8 on Cedar Avenue.
Cost: It’s not too bad, roughly about $11 for a full meal.
Parking: Good luck. Matt’s neighborhood location means only street parking. Luckily, you can do that at that point of Cedar Avenue, but you need to have some luck on your side to find a spot.
Website: Matt’s Bar
Specialty items: Jucy Lucy