Burger Hunter

Burger Hunter: Gold Nugget Tavern & Grille

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Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. Burger joints should be painting a mural for him! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

There’s gold in them there hills! This hunt takes us on an adventure into the west metro where the yuccie’s drive with no regard for humanity. 10-and-2 yourself straight to the Gold Nugget Tavern & Grille. Now this place is burger Mecca. They even have an internal battle each week between their own burger specials. I went with The People’s Burger. It won 22 weeks straight and earned itself a spot on the menu. This beast is loaded with flavor. The grind is a mix of chuck and smoked short rib so the pedigree is choice af. The meat taste is rich. Fitting for the number of high buck vehicles in the parking lot. Ok let’s mine our way through this big winner. Bun is brioche, butter grilled and perfy. Light and nice. The burger is topped with a housemade American chive cheese that all about smothering your meat. We call it “Instagram ready” in the biz. It’s so yummy and really should be consumed more in life. Next up is the smoked poblanos and tomato jam. Sweet and smokey work together like a miner and his pan . . . Or a hipster and her fixie. You get the point. They complete each other. There’s a reason so many BBQ joints render this tasty outcome. The People’s Burger has even more going on. Imagine a calendar full of appointments where everything is syncing in harmony. iSuccess. Last up is the bacon mayo. It’s sneaky great. The mayo just slides into your DM’s and the bacon is creeper . . . This burger is high and mighty but worth the investment. The chew is terrific and def a sweeter ride. Don’t sleep on the cheese curds they might be better than the Minnesota State Fair. Big claim . . .  Big hunt!

Scorecard:   Flavor: 9.3   Presentation: 8   Originality: 10

Gold Nugget Tavern & Grille, 14401 Excelsior Blvd, Minnetonka; goldnuggettavernandgrille.com

Burger Hunter: Val’s Rapid Serv

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Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. Burger joints should be painting a mural for him! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

On a bus to St. Cloud . . . Oh, Garth. Any which way you go put on some twang cause we’re heading to Cloud town. Now I’m tempted to support Kim Kardashian’s former fiance Kris Humphries 🏀 parents (they own a Five Guys 🍔 in St. Cloud, MN), but we’ll save that one for later and hit up the legendary Val’s Rapid Serv. You act like you didn’t know that was coming. Said Cloud town! This place is old timey with game. Sign outside is so tight. Damn Gina, damn! They’ve been doin’ it, doin’ it, and doin’ it well since 1959. Totes a take-out burger and fries joint. Cash me ousside, howbow dah. Eat in the car. The Triple Cheeseburger is the best choice. You can eat half if it’s too much. Don’t get weirdy on me. Always remember burger lefties are late night besties. The patties are thin and done well on a flattop that’s seen more action than Wilt the Stilt. A “seasoned grill” like Val’s is destined for a Smithsonian at some point. Kid you not! The flavor is classic and the cheese is melted all over. With a light beef grease and a power cheese melt it mo def an OTP.  Hella juicy! The bun is good and fits better than your lost winter glove. Speaking of finding things or finding things out, the locals seem to know why the fries are so good and possibly off color. While browsing the racks at St. Clouds iconic sports den Centennial Sports, I come to find out that those sneaky folks over at Val’s sprinkle their fries with popcorn salt and possibly a hint of cheese. It certainly explains the unique flavor. A top-rated French Fry indeed. Loved this whole experience. It’s fast and when everybody likes it you know it’s good!

(Writer’s Note: “Tennessee Stud” was on the radio while at Val’s!)

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.2   Presentation: 5   Originality: 6

Val’s Rapid Serv, 628 E St Germain St, St Cloud, facebook.com/pages/Vals-Rapid-Service

Burger Hunter: Ike’s Food & Cocktails

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Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. Burger joints should be painting a mural for him! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

Winter in Twincy is nothing short of spectacular. Especially if you like all the wondrous little things that make our settings so nice. This hunt takes place in exactly one of those. Ike’s Food & Cocktails is a first-rate experience. Charming atmosphere and bar with classic mix masters. And the aroma gives you life. I heart it. Kind of a light mesquite smoke. Now that we’ve settled in and down it’s time for the Ike’s Roadhouse Steak Burger. This behemoth is right as rain, as the Brits would say . . . I kinda get a New England & mid century vibe going on in here. Ok, let’s start this thing off. The grind is angus chuck with prime rib. I love this flavor in hamburger. It’s the quintessential steakhouse high-quality burger, tbh. Meat melts in your mouth. Kinda like Toro for you sushi hunters. The chef knows medium and is quite possibly Salt Bae himself. But folks I just gotta say the bun is onion control! Sweet and butter toasted. Works v nice with the salty 4 year aged Widmer’s cheddar. Wisconsin legends in cheddar for like 80 plus. Melt factor hundo p. The crispy onion straws are just that, crispy and add another layer of o-town. This 10 ouncer is onion forward not onion dominant. Feels good to get that off my chest . . . The sautéed mushrooms are sneaky great. Out of nowhere, bam! Just when you are wondering where they are? That’s how these shrooms play. An exquisite burger, big in size and flavor. Everything worked together like Canada. Read into that all you want. You heard me . . . In a heartbeat! Pro tip: Nothing says I love you like a burger.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 9.4   Presentation: 9   Originality: 9

Ike’s Food & Cocktails, 50 South 6th St, MPLS; ilikeikes.com

Burger Hunter: Lucky’s 13 Pub

Burger Hunter: Lucky's 13 Pub

Rolling down the freeway during a Minnesota winter often brews up a deep craving and you know where this is heading . . . Only a burger can really fully satisfy one’s true most inner desires. Well, I was feeling it, alee to Lucky’s 13 Pub! Now the menu here is colossal with over 20 burgers on it so you’ll need the luck of the Irish to help you decide. The Classic Burger seemed like a good starting point with a little customizing. The meat is angus and the taste is easy—to fall in love with! Seriously, this burger is kind of a gentle giant. It’s over a 1/2 pound of pure nourishment. Hints of season salt, pepper and onion powder in the grind. But folks this mellow fellow is juicy to the nines. So much so that the sesame seed bun eventually becomes a member of the Soggy Bottom Boys. FR! I topped it off with some provo (not Utah) and stayed clear of the salad this time. Nothing against it, just did one earlier is all. Instead, I went with some bacon cause I’m low key addicted to it. Now the chef really knows medium here and that’s not an alternative fact. This burger is one to remember. It’s tantalizing and immense. Pro tip: Onion rings are top rated.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.5   Presentation: 6  Originality: 6

Luckys 13 Burnsville, 2033 Burnsville Center, Burnsville; luckys13pub.com

Burger Hunter: Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

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Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. Burger joints should be painting a mural for him! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

On every level across all genres, I hunt for the best in hopes to appease our weekly desires. Sometimes it’s 5 star and sometimes it’s a square. Thanks Lori. Nonetheless, if the burger is good I want people to try it. Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers in Maple Grove pulled me right in. Now this place is super fun. The Triple Cheeseburger is fantastic! Meat is fresh and all I know is they say “steakburger”. The patties are thin and seasoned fully. Pressed on the flat-top and gives you a very familiar buttery taste on the meat. They get a nice char-daddy and the loose pack makes them fall apart and seriously it’s the best part. These little chunks of glory breaking off and landing softly on your freedom fries is like your own mid-meal mini appetizer of burger burnt ends. Kinda old school skillet crispy. The cheese is American with a nice melt on it. Bun is butter toasted and holds court quite well cause this triple lindy is juicy! I love this style of burger, they are always flavor forward and super satisfying. Patty up and only eat half if it’s too much. The advantage here is the layers of juiciness and cheese. Comes with some grade A thin cut fries and their own fancy dipping sauces. Save some fries for the ice cream. Salt/sweet hot/cold. It’s dench. So far there’s only two of these in Minnesota but if your experience is like mine I’m thinking more soon.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.1   Presentation: 5   Originality: 6

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, 11600 Fountains Dr, Maple Grove; freddysusa.com