Burger Hunter

Burger Hunter @#$&*

Burger Hunter Retires

For the past 94 weeks we’ve been on a wild adventure all across Twincy hunting for burgers. We learned so much on this ride and it all felt like one giant party between buns. The restaurants, the chefs, the service, and all the owners that help to elevate the greatest sandwich ever, we thank you! Without a doubt Minnesota, and especially the MSP area, has taken the lead on burger creativity. There’s a respect for traditional flavors yet we continue to move forward. Not a week goes by without another new spot offering their take on the best burger around. It’s quite the market here.

Now this is an official announcement: I’m taking a long extended break from hunting for burgers. Yes, I know that I’ve missed many spots (Shaw’s!) and I understand that there will be new ones to come, but the groundwork has been laid and it’s your turn. You see a bar that has neons in the window with a crowded parking lot, go hunt it! Finding these burger gems is the real reason for the season. It’s the delight in trying something different or someplace maybe you wouldn’t have gone before. That’s how to really make good memories. I want to thank each and every single one of our readers for your support along the way. Your encouragement, ideas, criticism, and comedy has made this journey feel like a team effort. Thank you and it’s time for a salad.

Your friend,

The Great American Burger Hunter

Flavor: 🍔   Presentation: 🍔   Originality: 🍔


Burger Hunter: White Castle

white castle

It’s the countdown to the final ever Burger Hunter, everyone’s favorite Secrets of the City feature! That’s right, there’s only a few more hunts left until Mike S. goes on an extended cleanse (as The Juice Bar Hunter?)! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s previous meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram and at @BurgerHunterUSA on the Twitter.

It’s bar close and nothing’s open. You can probably guess where this hunt is heading. That’s right we’re in the drive-thru at none other than White Castle. Don’t act like you’ve never done this before. Ok everyone calm down so we can order. Four Sliders with cheese naked and a bag of nails. First off the bun on these little fellas is soft ah. They are the real soaker uppers that give this burger its iconic taste. The beef patties are not grilled but steamed over a pile of onions. As you can imagine the meat gets dominated by onion and renders that smell we all know from 50 feet away. I order mine without the O’s because they’ve been pretty much marinating in um. Topped with cheese and tbh it’s the only contrast you’ll get in the flavor on this ride. It’s so BOM bun onion meat that the cheese actually stands out. How I’m noticing these things at 2am is a miracle of its own. The Castle has been going strong for almost 100 years. That’s a longer stay than some of the original castles in Europe. Anywho the nails aka fries are crinkle cut, hot and all you’ve ever needed after a night of skulduggery. Now don’t make the mistake of ordering all the bizarre on the menu, especially at this hour. But if you do miss your late night crave, the next morning has you completely covered. Pro tip: White Castle serves a damn good breakfy. They actually crack the egg and use real toasters.

Scoredcard:   Flavor: 7.1   Presentation: 4   Originality: 6

White Castle, 608 Central Ave NE, MPLS; whitecastle.com


Burger Hunter: The Depot Tavern

The Depot

It’s the countdown to the final ever Burger Hunter, everyone’s favorite Secrets of the City feature! That’s right, there’s only a few more hunts left until Mike S. goes on an extended cleanse (as The Juice Bar Hunter?)! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s previous meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram and at @BurgerHunterUSA on the Twitter.

It’s the holiday season because it’s December and now it’s cold. This hunt takes us indoors to the place where I’m almost certain there’s never Christmas music, The Depot Tavern. It’s conveniently parked next to First Avenue because they own it. Upon entry it’s kinda like you’re in a New York Music Scene Diner Bar Restaurant. And the dinner music is real good. But would you expect anything less. The staff has more style than all of fashion week combined! You feel like you’re watching some bad-ass scene from a movie, when actually you’re living it. Anywho, the Bacon Cheddar burger is a fine starting point. Meat is Angus. Seared up by chef hardcore. Hella juicy with a minor drip party. Bun toasted. Kaiser like. Eggy. Onion strizzle on top with the bacon is an OTP and that bottom caramelized onion ketchup sure likes to dance. More of a marmalade TBH. But Wow! Crispy and smooth and just a v perfect bite happening. This ones G’d up from its feet up. Comes with house-cut fries that are one notch too thick. Lots of stars outside, another star inside!

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.3   Presentation: 8   Originality: 8

The Depot Tavern, 17 North 7th St, MPLS; thedepottavern.com


Burger Hunter: BRIO

BRIO

It’s everyone’s favorite Secrets of the City feature! The only one people ever mention. We’re basically an empty vessel for Mike S.’s burger hunting exploits and that’s just fine. Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram and at @BurgerHunterUSA on the twitter.

With great energy and confidence we head North to the lovely town of Andover, MN. BRIO is an established coffee house that does small batch at a very high level and them there fresh grounds might not even be their best game. They have a sneaky great chef that’s pastry trained and in it to win it with her foodie game. I had my best ever grilled cheese sandwich here. I’m talking the one-that-changed-everything-kinda-best-ever. On to The Sleepy Swine, which is their burger on the menu. It’s on a torta roll which is just a better name for ciabatta. But there it is, now that I said it, we all know how good that is as a bun—mediocre at best. All uphill from here tho. The meat grind is a mix of lamb and bacon. Fantastic flavor and nothing dominates. Hard to do with them two. Juicy. The blue cheese is very forward like it’s had four drinks. Works well with the garden tho. Fozzy Bear tomatoes. That’s what we call the big ones. Delicious and far out exotic with the tzatziki sauce helping everything be so fierce. It’s reaching a bit but it all works out great. Each bite rendering a blast of different flavors. Good complexity. Coffee is a must. Big ups on that lamb and bacon grind. They are bff’s.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.3   Presentation: 8   Originality: 9

BRIO, 15190 Bluebird Street NW Suite #100, Andover; briotwincities.com


Burger Hunter: Barbette

barbette

It’s everyone’s favorite Secrets of the City feature! The only one people ever mention. We’re basically an empty vessel for Mike S.’s burger hunting exploits and that’s just fine. Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram and at @BurgerHunterUSA on the twitter.

Now that your hot laps around Bde Maka Ska are almost over it’s time to head inside to one of your old favorites—or one of my new favorites. Embarrassingly this is my virgin voyage to the beautiful Barbette. It’s true! How did it happen! It’s obvi got street cred amongst the foodie scene, but I’m traveling past the glorious mussels and steak straight to crushtown. The Royale with Cheese is your flame grilled quintessential quality burger. Not many restaurants do flame and fine beef. Barbette does. They use Limousin cattle and local. The texture is the big winner here . . . Char marks on the outer and the chew just slides into your DM’s. The bun is toasted, sized right, flakey and soft. Now the cheese is comte and brings a flavor portfolio that one should consider more often. Kinda nutty and earthy and somewhat sweet. Sounds like Uptown or France to me. Either way its melt factor is hundo p and the report card says “works well with others”. Tasty AH. All upper mouth. There’s an onion marmalade that’s flanking and a light spread of Grey Poupon. It’s balanced quite well. Comes with a fresh salad, which means you had a salad for lunch. Things are working out nicely. This burger is simply exotic. Not a ton going on but what is, is just perfy. To think that this killer restaurant has been marinating here since the Cafe Weird days is a bit bizarre. Pretty pretty happy I finally went. Go eat Lake Street.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.8   Presentation: 9   Originality: 8

Barbette, 1600 W. Lake St, MPLS; barbette.com


Burger Hunter: Miller’s Corner Bar

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It’s everyone’s favorite Secrets of the City feature! The only one people ever mention. We’re basically an empty vessel for Mike S.’s burger hunting exploits and that’s just fine. Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram and at @BurgerHunterUSA on the twitter.

Now you might want to sit down or just make sure you are paying very close attention. Before us is probably my number 1 most favorite hunt so far. They’ve all been great but this one . . . OMG. Okay, so we park get out and boom there’s a smell of something fried and it’s hitting my memory banks. Miller’s Corner Bar in Columbia Heights is the epitome of a classic Minnesota burger joint. You can find these joints up north or in Northeast, small towns, or off the beaten path. Any which way here in Minnesota we cherish them . . . They are part of our Big North culture. Anywho, upon opening Miller’s front door I’m greeted by a dude tuning in his pedal steel guitar to to Johnny Cash song. Almost fainted. Didn’t and ordered the bacon cheese. Bun is lightly butter toasted. Crunchy and soft. Meat is chuck and very traditional tasting. Salted perfectly. Full onion flavor on the meat sear. Cooked to med well but hella juicy. Drips McGee and Drips Malone showed up. Holy heaven now there’s a guitar picker and he’s got honey in his voice. Feeling so good and proud to be a Minnesotan I’m tearing up on each bite. Now the cheddar is perfect and blankets the bacon to the meat. They do toppings on bottom and I chose only raw daddy onions this time. The burger is really enjoyable and exactly what you’d expect here. Go on Saturday afternoon and you might catch their sound check like we did.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.3   Presentation: 5   Originality: 5

Miller’s Corner Bar, 547 N 40th Ave NE, Columbia Heights; millerscornerbar.com


Burger Hunter: Mayslack’s Bar

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Whenever we talk about Secrets of the City people immediately say “oh, I love the Burger Hunter!”. We love him, too. Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram and at @BurgerHunterUSA on the twitter.

This hunt takes place just off of Uni-, just enough to make it cool for some reason. Welcome to Mayslack’s. Okay, now you got your visual. That corner. You can see Knight Cap over there the unofficial home to all their 86’ers. Anywho, I’m not at Mayslack’s to party or listen to a band this time. It’s hunting season and there’s three beautiful mini burgers in my scope. They are totes one of the best things on this menu. Had ’em many times tbh. Bread is a dark rye that’s sweet and soaks up juices better than SpongeBob himself. Buns filled with flavor. Lots of it comes from the straight up onion party they got going on. Bold and glorious beefy au jus taste to them. Sautéed to success. Not too sweet. Light crunch still and flat out everywhere yet somehow it’s not too many. There’s like 150 onions on it give or take a zero! The burgers meat is hand pattied, with a loose pack and fresh. There’s a special sauce that is special. Seems to have ketchup and pickles and mustard and idk really. It’s good. These Mayslack’s mini burgers are quite possibly the best sliders in town. FR! Pro tip: The roast beef is legendary and nobody beats their meat.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.9   Presentation: 8   Originality: 8

Mayslack’s, 1428 4th Street NE, MPLS; mayslacksbar.com