Heading to Minneapolis for a wedding, I decided to stay an extra day to explore a new city. Looking for advice on what to do and where to go from those in the know, I ended up with the following: Catch a show at Brave New Workshop. Go bowling at Bryant-Lake Bowl. Have a burger at Matt's, the (disputed) originator of the Jucy Lucy.* For the unfamiliar, a Jucy Lucy is a cheeseburger that has the cheese inside the patty, and has been deemed one of the most influential burgers of all time.
The wedding came and went, full of sentiment, laughter and dancing (and, of course, booze). The next day, which happened to be the Fourth of July, was spent in the most patriotic fashion: exploring the Mall of America, followed by fireworks and ice cream.
With the organized festivities coming to an end, it was time to go rogue and find out what Minneapolis has to offer. Emerging from a post-wedding, post-holiday haze, the troops were assembled. Our mission was clear: Find and devour the best burger in Minneapolis—the Jucy Lucy. Upon entering the hole-in-the-wall burger joint at noon on a Tuesday, the cook manning the griddle was hard at work, frying up patty after delicious patty—the place already packed.
The menu at Matt’s is short, offering regular burgers, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and few other things. But it doesn’t matter, because if you’ve made it this far, there’s really only one thing to order.
"Careful—it's hot, and she squirts," our waitress warned as the burgers hit the table.
I cautiously took a bite, making sure not to lose any of the precious insides. The melted cheese mixed with the juices from the meat, forming a new creation greater than the sum of its parts. I pulled away, transfixed as molten cheese slowly slinked out from between the two beef patties, giving way to gravity on its own terms.
As this delicacy disappeared before my eyes and into my stomach with each bite, I began to slow down to savor it. A feeling of dread and despair began to wash over me as I saw the inevitable end of this euphoric experience approaching. This was more than just the best burger in Minneapolis, it was perhaps the best burger of my life.
In that moment, the same question crossed the minds and lips of everyone at the table: "Should we order another?" We decide against it for the sake of self-control, although part of me wishes we'd thrown caution to the wind on this one occasion.
That night, I lay in my own bed haunted by earlier memories of Lucy from Minneapolis. Accessorized with fried onions and three slices of pickles, dressed neatly in a hamburger bun, appearing to be like all the others. We all now knew the secret she was carrying—like someone wearing pants without any underwear. There was a sense of thrill and excitement in the hidden details of this glorious sandwich. For once, it was truly what's on the inside that counts.
I will always remember my first Jucy Lucy, like good times with an old lover. A relationship that ended too quickly, that day will play on a loop in my mind until we meet again.
*While “Juicy Lucy” might be the correct terminology for this meaty gift from the gods, legend has it that the jucy spelling was an accidental typo originating at Matt’s and has been embraced ever since. A few miles down the road, rival burger joint 5-8 Club has the motto, “If it's spelled right, it's done right,” emblazoned across its staff’s shirts as a mark of superiority. Shots fired in the battle for the best burger in Minneapolis.
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