Burger Hunter

Burger Hunter: Kelly’s Depot Bar

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Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. He gets fan mail from our readers and from restaurants, in fact more than the rest of us! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram and at @BurgerHunterUSA on the twitter.

Once upon a time there was an engineer. Drove his locomotive both far and near . . . Whoops, I derailed to St. Easy and hopped down to Kelly’s Depot Bar for a bite! Now folks this place will immediately remind you of something growing up. Maybe it was that local bar you always went to with the fam or the one near your grandparents’ house. Any which way this beauty is lost in time. Kelly’s Depot is an American classic long bar with the flattop cooker at the end. Damn that’s a winning combo. You look down a long bar and see the kitchen right there and not in back, you’re most likely in for a treat. That certainly was the case here. First off, the service comes with a paper placemat just before your food arrives. It’s so incredible that I didn’t even know what to do. Stunned back in time and it felt so frickin’ good that you could almost scream. Now I went all aboard for the Bacon Cheeseburger. It’s a big ‘un. All of 1/2lb fresh never frozen hand-pattied 80/20 straight chuck. Seasoned in the 80’s and cooked to perfy medium. While eyeing up the locals I spotted the old tin lids. Full steam ahead and boy could I taste it. V juicy. The flavor is pretty tradish. Bun is butter grilled and soft. Cheese is classic and the bacon is under it like it’s going night night. I went with the onion rings and those were par. Do the crinkle cuts they are much better. Loved my experience at Kelly’s Depot Bar. Won’t be touring the menu much but I hear their coneys are the real deal. Prices are hundo p the lowest in Lowertown.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.9   Presentation: 5   Originality: 5

Kelly’s Depot Bar, 241 E Kellogg Blvd, St Paul; https://www.facebook.com/Kellys-Depot-Bar


Duluth Week Burger Hunter: Duluth Grill

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Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. And he’s not afraid to head into colder, hipper climates to do it! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram and at @BurgerHunterUSA on the twitter.

Norther beyond the Askov Finlayson exit and further past the infamous Esko Thomson exit is the one that stated them all . . . Duluth, Minnesota! Looking for a midsummer nights dream vacation? Damn straight up 35 for 2 hours and you’ll need to pit stop for some grub. The Duluth Grill is your answer. This place is without a doubt a foodie Mecca. I personally know families that drive 2 hours up and 2 hours back just for their pies. Pro tip: Get the banana cream. Anywho, I ordered the Blue Cheese Burger and it was legit. Bun is brioche, soft and fresh. Butter grilled. The meat is grass feed and v clean but seasoned appropriately. Nice size just under 1/2lb. Juicy and medium be doing. Topped with blue cheese and wadded up nicely. Some is melted and some is chunky and all of it’s creamy. But the big whites were wah de tah!, as Pootie Tang would say. But FR they are goals. Best ever maybe. Also has a little maple bacon jam that works nicely with that award winning blue cheese. Every bite has a flavor bomb going off. There’s a great caramelized onion on it that’s been marinating longer than old jazz hands at Club Saratoga. Now I went with the hash browns and let me tell you my friends were eyeing them up. This place is woke. Entire menu deserves a dance. Now go see the sites! Duluth . . . Gotta love it every time. Paris of the North Shore.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 9.2   Presentation: 8   Originality: 9

Duluth Grill, I-35 & 27th Avenue West, Duluth; duluthgrill.com


Burger Hunter: Uncle Franky’s

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Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. He gets fan mail from our readers and from restaurants, in fact more than the rest of us! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram and at @BurgerHunterUSA on the twitter.

At the end of the trendiest street (Quincy) in Twincy and just across the block sits a restaurant that thankfully is lost in time. In the era of swanky this and that with million dollar makeovers this place is historically kitschy and crushing it. Uncle Franky’s is a dog joint and I definitely suggest getting one but I went for the triple cheese burger with bacon. The menu is on a chalkboard which is always a good sign. Yup it is . . . I know you just thought about it. Let’s start with the bun, it’s regs but butter grilled and sized correctly. Burgers got some flavor. Gotta be the old flattop. You could put a cardboard box on that grill and it would taste good. FR. Seasoned hundo p. Guessing chuck but the pack is all the way firm. That cheese tho is the best part. I went to Swiss town and it was all over the place.  And thank you Uncle Franky for that. Onions are minced and on the bottom.  Bacon is fried and from mars. I didn’t understand it. Anywho, this burger is noteworthy and they have a great juicy so mark it down. Comes with some crinkle cut potato logs. Served piping hot! Also the MinneSoda fountain pop is a must. Sitting in this place really brings you to another era.  The ceiling fan. The smell. The chef yells out to you to double check your order. They even have a special of the day that’s under $5. When I got up I thought it would be farmland out those doors. Tasted good—felt amaze! 

Scorecard:   Flavor: 7.7   Presentation: 5   Originality: 7

Uncle Franky’s, 728 Broadway St NE, MPLS; unclefrankys.com


Burger Hunter: Five Guys

Five Guys

It’s the Burger Hunter! Mike S. gets a ton fan mail from our readers and from restaurants, in fact more than the rest of us! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

Now that you’ve celebrated our Independence, it’s a good time to pledge your loyalty to a guilty pleasure or two. Mine and yours is Five Guys. You can still be a foodie or a locavore or whatever, you’ll still work these fine fellas into your mix. They do it right, folks. Fresh AH. FR! Pro tip: There’s no freezer in any Five Guys restaurant. So they got that going for them, which is nice. Ingredients are always popping. The Bacon Cheeseburger with two patties is the Ave I went down. Went naked this time just to taste the beef, but I strongly suggest adding some garden. The meat is v good and mo def Five Guys flavor. Not sure if it’s in the light seasoning or just the beef. Patties are seared up but not crispy. Very juicy inner with American cheese wads coming correct in each bite. Think classic double 1/4 pounder but the best one you’ve ever had. Bacon on the bottom. Not sure why but it’s down there and in pieces. Not strips. The bun is sesame, good enough but not great by any means. Fries are woke and potato is from the farm they post on the wall. Fried in peanut oil. My fav part is the bag fries. Their bit is to dump a ton of extras in your bag with all the food. It’s like a Ricki Bonus. Now if you know what that is we all impressed! Another nice touch is the free peanut gallery. Hey it’s summer, go nuts!

Scorecard:   Flavor: 7.9   Presentation: 5   Originality: 6

Five Guys, 2300 Hennepin Ave S, MPLS; fiveguys.com


Burger Hunter: Peppers & Fries

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You didn’t think we’d skip Burger Hunter this week, did you? Mike S. gets a ton fan mail from our readers and from restaurants, in fact more than the rest of us, so we’ve got to keep the coverage coming! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

You tell me this town ain’t got no heart . . . Cruise up and down Lake Street, roll down your windows and enjoy the beautiful diversity of flavors that’ll suit just about anyone’s fancy. You just gotta poke around. This one road alone could out eat the entire state of Rhode Island. East a bit on Lake dwells the food paradise of Peppers & Fries. It’s a sports bar that’s got a big MN Twins following but it feels like you’re in a fancy William Arena. Where the hell is Clem Haskins anyway??? Peppers PB&J burger is lit. No doubt folks add this beauty to your list. Don’t freak, you protein packin’ super scared of carb freaks. It’s a big 1/3 thick and juicy. Nice crisp outer, inner is medium and the chew is out of bounds. A nice grind on this angus. It’s topped with a thin to win layer of peanut butter that is without any argument the greatest spread ever invented. You could survive in the woods for a month on a big jar of PB. Put it on everything! This burger has a terrific pepper jelly that adds a touch of sweet heat to the now nutty tasting beef. It’s just wonderful.  Maybe you had too much too fast. Topped with platform crispy bacon and a light cheddar. Bun is hundo p bakery fresh. P.J. Murphy’s I believe. Puffy. Now the fries are the real deal so get them. I sat right next to a box of Idaho beauties so it’s like, “yeah I’m getting you.” They have damn good food here. Let freedom ring on Shakedown Street! 

Scorecard:   Flavor: 9.1   Presentation: 5   Originality: 9

Peppers & Fries, 3900 East Lake St, MPLS; peppersandfries.com