Matt’s Bar is an institution in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since 1954, the restaurant has claimed to be the home of the original Jucy Lucy burger. When I finalized my plans to Minneapolis, I knew I had to make the pilgrimage to Matt’s Bar and cross it off my ever growing food bucket list.
With a Jucy Lucy, also known as Juicy Lucy at other restaurants, cheese is stuffed on the inside of the patty before it is cooked on a flat top grill. When you bite into the burger, all the molten hot cheese and juices in the middle of the burger ooze out in an almost magical way.
There seems to be a war in Minneapolis about who created the first Jucy Lucy, Matt’s Bar or nearby 5-8 Club. Since I only had time for one, I can only give you my opinion on Matt’s Bar.
Matt’s Bar is pretty popular place with both locals and tourists. Not surprisingly, you can expect a wait for a table that can be long on the weekends.
Worried about the wait, I decided to arrive around 11:15PM on a Friday night thinking the crowds would be thinner. When I arrived, the place was practically empty without any sort of wait. I thought I scored. Unbeknownst to me, grill hours were only 11:00AM to 10:45PM. So, I ordered a beer, called it a night, and vowed to return the next day.
Fast forward to the following day. It was a rainy Saturday night, so I was unsure how long the wait would be. When I walked up to the door, there were already people waiting in a line that began near the door and ended just behind the bar.
When I looked inside at the bar, there was one open seat at the far end of the bar next to the grill. Luckily, I was eating alone and no one was sitting in that spot, so I snagged it up. The bar fit about 10 people, so if you open seats and don’t want to wait, you can sit and eat at the bar.
You can also do orders to go for those nights you don’t feel like waiting for a table.
When I walked into the dimly lit interior of Matt’s Bar, I immediately noticed the cool dive bar atmosphere. On the right was the bar with an adjacent dining room with a few tables and booths. When I think of the classic neighborhood dive bar, this is exactly what I want. Welcoming to guests, no fuss, local neighborhood feeling, cold beer, and great food. It really doesn’t get better than this.
The Matt’s Bar menu was pretty simple with burgers, a grilled cheese sandwich, a chicken sandwich, ham and cheese, and french fries.
At the top of the menu, the Jucy Lucy at $6.95. This is what you want to order. I’m not sure why you would want to order anything else except maybe a side of fries.
Since you are at a dive bar, the service can be a little on the slow side. The workers are friendly but just be patient.
Since all burgers are made to order, you can expect about a 20 minute wait before your food is ready. I knew this beforehand. The extra wait allowed me time for a couple cold beers and he flat top attime to take down notes for this post.
Keeping with the dive bar theme, remember to leave your credit cards at home as the place only accepts cold hard cash.
Sitting at the bar, I had an awesome view of the burgers sizzling away on the flat top located at the far right end of the bar near the front door.
The chef, who also doubled as a bartender and cashier, consistently took patties out of the fridge, seasoned them with a salt and pepper shaker, and placed them on the grill. After being flipped three times, the burgers were topped with a few pickles, along with french fries, were placed on simple white paper and served.
It was amazing to see the chef work on such a small grill yet still pump out so much food. I was told on a busy day that they can grill up to 800 burgers.
With burgers cooked to order, I knew that my food was going to take a little longer than usual to be prepared. I had no problem with this. I could have sat all day at the bar drinking ice cold Grain Belt beers while watching the master of the grill turn out burger after burger.
It was truly a cool experience. This is why I love to eat when I travel.
Politics aside, I think it was pretty cool that the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, would visit Matt’s Bar.
I could only imagine what the people inside the restaurant were thinking in their heads the day they saw the president walk inside the bar and eat a Jucy Lucy. It must have been a truly surreal experience and a great story to tell.
I want to get this out of the way right now. The Jucy Lucy ($6.95) at Matt’s Bar was not the best burger I have ever had. Better yet, it was one of the best burger experiences I have ever had, and one that I recommend to any travelers to Minneapolis.
The Jucy Lucy served here was anything but fancy. After the burger was taken off the grill, it was placed between two lightly warmed white buns, topped with grilled onions and slices of pickles, and then placed simply inside white parchment paper and served. You wont’ find plates or utensils at Matt’s Bar.
The best part for me was when I picked up the perfectly charred burger and took my first bite. All the amazing cheesy goodness and juices oozed right out. Just be careful when you bite into your burger as the cheese will be extremely hot and can easily spill all over your clothes. This could ruin your day.
The burger was cheesy, greasy, and smoky from the perfect char. I loved how I could actually taste the burger since it was only lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. And diced grilled onions on top? Perfection.
For all the other Jucy Lucy restaurants, all I can say is, “often imitated, never duplicated.”
On the side was a 1/2 order of fries ($4.25). The fries, which were fried and lightly seasoned right before my eyes, were seasoned well, greasy, thin, and crispy. I couldn’t tell if they were frozen when they were placed in the fryer, but either way, they paired well with the burger and beer. They were nothing spectacular but I still ate them all.
I’m glad I was hungry though as the 1/2 order of fries was enough to feed two people. I could only imagine how big the regular size french fries was.
Service was definitely on the slow slide, but all the servers were extremely friendly. Just be patient for your food, have a cold beer, and enjoy life.
Whether Matt’s Bar or 5-8 Club invented the original Jucy Lucy, or Juicy Lucy, I don’t know.
There’s just something about a Jucy Lucy at Matt’s Bar. Greasy, cheesy, and delicious. What more can you ask for? Don’t come to Matt’s Bar excepting the best burger in the world. Rather come here for the friendly servers, the food, and the atmosphere.
- Original and delicious Jucy Lucy
- Friendly staff
- Food cooked to order
- Great beer selection
- Great dive bar atmosphere
- Cash only
- Line for tables can be long, especially on weekends
- Service was a little on the slower side
- Food was only served until 10:45PM
- 1/2 order of fries at $4.25 was overpriced
Food is served daily from 11:00AM to 10:45PM.
3500 Cedar Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
GPS Coordinates: 44.939429,-93.247539