As promised, here’s the start of our long
list of Crawl Candidates. I was hoping to publish the entire list all at once, but the "brief" commentary for each listing is proving more involved than originally thought. So, here’s the first two categories for your consideration. Jucy Lucys/Burgers
Hamburgers aren’t the first thing you think of when considering the Twin Cities food scene, but thanks to the Jucy Lucy, the local "outside in" CheeseBurger, the Burger scene there is growing and thriving. The problem now is, there are so many outstanding Burgers across MSP, it would be too easy to make this an All-Burger Crawl, and I don’t think anyone wants that.
I’ve narrowed my opening list down to seven candidates; four serving Jucy Lucys, and three putting out just great Burgers. I’m thinking we need to narrow the list down to a maximum of five, spread out over the three-day Crawl. Matt’s Bar
: More than one MSP joint claims to be the birthplace of the Jucy Lucy, but most people agree, Matt’s is Ground (Round) Zero for this local specialty. Matt’s is a classic, low key neighborhood bar, frozen in time. They griddle up an excellent version of the JL and would get my vote for inclusion on the Crawl. Casper’s & Runyon’s Nook/Shamrock’s
: The original location, The Nook is an old school Irish Bar with tons of character. The problem is, it’s fairly small, and pretty busy, making it unlikely they’ll be able to accommodate a group our size. Happily, they have a second location, Shamrock’s; still plenty of charm, although not quite as gritty, that serves up the same high caliber Jucy Lucy as The Nook. 5-8 Club
: The third member of the “old school” Jucy Lucy triumvirate. 5-8 Club served up our favorite version, but they lack the ambiance of Matt’s and Casper & Runyon’s. I’d consider leaving them for “independent study” by interested parties and instead focus on a newcomer… Blue Door Pub
: BDP comes highly recommended by Mpls/StP resident, rumaki. She says her husband is a fan of their upscale twist on the Jucy Lucy: "The Blucy"
. It’s a Jucy Lucy made with blue cheese. They’re a bit more trendy than the classic JL outlets, but deserve strong consideration. Lion’s Tap
: Moving outside the Jucy Lucy galaxy, there are other great Burgers to had in the MSP metro area, and Lion’s Tap serves one of the best. We have eaten there several times and always enjoyed the experience. Respected and beloved Roadfooder, buffetbuster, ate there last year and shares our appraisal of this semi-rural joint. They are the only place I’ve ever eaten where the actual food looks as good or better than the menu picture
. Band Box Diner
: Don’t know much about this place except it pops up frequently when looking for “best cheap eats” and “best burgers” on the interwebs. It looks really cool
and has a solid menu
. Flameburger/The Flameburger
: Things just got a little complicated. In researching this place, it turns out there are two
Flameburgers, totally unrelated (I’m guessing there’s an untold story), but equally well reviewed. Both appear to have classic diner attributes. Don’t know much about the food other than a lot of appetizing internet photos
. The dilemma may be solved in that both locations are 24-hour operations. These may be best left to our after-hours revelers to evaluate after a few beers. Walleye & Other Local Fish Specialties
Minnesota’s state fish is the Walleye. There are several places, ranging from sit-down service to fast food operations, to get a great version of this sweet fish and other classic Fried Fish options. Anchor Fish & Chips
: No walleye at this cozy urban Irish Pub, but some damn fine Fish & Chips accompanied by a nice selection of imported beers and ciders. The full menu
also includes Shepherd’s Pie, Sausage, and Burgers. For those who dare, they even serve Poitin. Nope, not the Canadian French Fry/Cheese Curd/Gravy dish, Poutine. Poitin is powerful Irish moonshine! Of course, Anchor Fish & Chips has figured out a way to include both in one dish; “Poitín Poutine” infusing the brown gravy with the hooch. Tavern on Grand
: Probably the best-known Walleye destination in all of Minnesota. Also, the one of greatest debate. We’ve visited TonG many times and loved it at first. Over the years the luster has worn off and we’ve found the food, other than the Walleye itself, to be fairly ordinary. Some recent visitors have agreed with that assessment
, while others continue to give it high marks
. Our local Roadfood scouts have recommended another option, but TonG may still get the nod based on its status as a Roadfood favorite
. Mac’s Fish & Chips
: Mac’s popped up repeatedly with positive reviews on various Twin Cities Cheap Eats searches. I always try to find a gritty Fried Fish joint on every Crawl, especially after the raves we got for the Alabama Fish Bar stop during the Cincinnati Chili Crawl back in 2014
Mac’s has several locations, none of them particularly “gritty” (you’ll have a hard time finding a neighborhood in MSP as gritty as Cincinnati’s Over The Rhine district
), but the 1330 Larpenteur Ave W
location seems to have some Roadfood charm. The other two locations are more generic, but offer indoor sit-down opportunities if the weather is foul.
They’ve got a full Northern Midwest Fish menu
including Walleye, Halibut, Cod, and Shrimp. There’s even Poutine (the Canadian stuff) and Fried Chicken for the fin haters. OCTO Fish Bar
: I worked closely with several Twin Cities tourism boards in compiling these lists. Some of their suggestions tended to be more upscale
than the typical Raodfood choices. OCTO Fish Bar is one of those suggestions. Looks like a fun, hip, trendy spot
that might be worth checking out independently of the Crawl. Smack Shack
: Another one of the new trendy places recommended by the tourism folks, this one might be more at home in the northeast. Smack Shack started out serving their signature Lobster Rolls out a food truck, then made the transition to brick-and-mortar. Nice looking menu
with specialties from all across the country; northeast, southwest, NOLA, but no sign of Walleye anywhere in sight. Magnolias
: Saving this for last because this is the entry that might raise some hackles among Roadfooders more dedicated to site reviewed spots than others. The topic of Tavern on Grand came up frequently with the local collaborators. The consensus being, TonG is good, but there are better, lesser known places to get the local fish delicacy.
Magnolia’s was the name that kept coming up. Nothing fancy here, just an unassuming family run operation specializing in Fried Chicken and Walleye
(Hey, a twofer!). There’s always the possibility we can hit two sit-down Walleye restaurants on this Crawl, but if we’re crunched for time, based the local raves, my recommendation will be Magnolia’s over Tavern on Grand.
I’ve got 22 more categories (relax, most of them are much shorter than these) to go through, totaling more than 60 potential restaurants. The goal is to narrow them down to no more than 21. Your feedback and input are welcome.
I’m hoping to get the entire list, with commentary, published gradually over the next couple of weeks. If we can settle on a final list by the end of February, I’ll use the following six weeks to map it all out and come up with a final itinerary.
More to follow. Keep your cards an letters coming!
post edited by BuddyRoadhouse - 2019/01/12 00:21:50