The Shawburger at Shaw’s Bar and Grill in NE Minneapolis

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

The list of burger options at Shaw’s Bar and Grill in Northeast Minneapolis is extensive. There are classics like the bacon cheeseburger, the patty melt, and the mushroom and Swiss burger ($4-$6). Beyond that there are specialty burgers like the Bourbon, Cajun, and the Sun ($6). For those looking for something simple, sure, one of these burgers will fit the bill. For those looking for more of an adventure, read on.

The Shawburger ($8) is an intimidating sandwich; even its menu description reads like a challenge. It’s described as a “three napkin burger, smothered with sauteed onions and mushrooms, Swiss and American cheeses, mayo, lettuce, tomato, bacon, and Shaw’s signature sauce.”

A few words with our server confirmed this burger’s popularity and enormous size. Upping the game, we added fries to the order, instead of the chips with which their burgers are served. Debating on whether we wanted to order more, our server piped in saying that both of us could feast on the one burger, and if there are leftovers, “it’s pretty good reheated the next day, too!”

Although Shaw’s has only been in operation since the current owners Colleen and Michael Shaw bought it in 2000, the location has a lengthy history dating back to the days when it was Sun Drive-Inn. The Shaws kept the Sun burger on the menu, an edible tribute to the former drive-in, but added their influence to the burger selection with the Shawburger, which Colleen says is a collection of Michael’s favorite burger toppings.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Shaw’s seems to be a “where-everybody-knows-your-name” kind of spot. The Cheers-like environment is perfect for the locals, who sit around the bar sipping their beer and whiskey, chatting about a wide range of topics with unfiltered language. As my dining companion described it: “It was as if they felt like they were in their own living room.” That’s a nice way of saying that some comments would have been better left in the privacy of one’s own home.

Beyond the local flavor, there’s a music theme that runs throughout the interior. Vinyl records, framed Rolling Stone covers, and Woodstock posters adorn the place. Our server informed us that they have live blues and jazz music most nights of the week, sans cover except for a few bigger-name acts.

Our burger arrived and it seemed less intimidating in person. The toppings are clearly the star of this gastronomic show: Somewhere under those onions, gooey cheese, and mushrooms was a burger patty — I just knew it.

It took a few tries to pick up the burger, but once I got a good hold I took the first bite. The Shawburger is certainly tasty — with all that cheese, crisp bacon, and Shaw’s special sauce (Thousand Island?) — how could it not be? And confirming my suspicion, the thin, overcooked burger patty takes a backseat to the soft bun and generous toppings.

BEST BET: Go big or go home at Shaws — with the toppings as the star, go straight for the Shawburger.

Shaw’s Bar and Grill
Northeast Minneapolis

1528 University Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
612.781.4405
OWNER: Colleen and Michael Shaw
HOURS:
Sun-Sat 10am-2am
BAR: Full bar
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: No / No

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table


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12 Comments

  1. Shaw’s will cook a burger to temperature if you ask.

  2. Kate N.G. Sommers04/15/2010Reply

    The last thing I would want in a burger made at a place like Shaw’s would be even the slightest HINT of pink. I love a good medium-rare burger… from someplace whose meat I trust. Shaw’s? Not so much…

  3. @Kate

    That’s understandable, and I have certainly thought the same. But a very good friend of mine has eaten a very rare burger from Shaw’s once a week for about the last 5 years without issue. I too have eaten rare and medium-rare burgers from Shaw’s with no problems. I don’t know the source of their meat, but given the amount of burgers they serve and the consistency of their patties I’m fairly certain it’s not frozen Cargill stock or similar.

  4. I guess neither of you know the owner, Mike. He grew up northeast, buys only quality meat from local vendors and Brian, you’re right – the meat is never frozen. I mention that Mike grew up northeast because he has a loyal following as well as new admirers and he and his wife, Colleen care about everything they serve because they care about the clientele, so no worries Kate – pink, raw or well done, it’s still the best burger in town.

  5. IS YOUR SUN BURGER THE SAME RECIPE AS THE OLD SUN DRIVE IN
    OWNED BY WARREN NELSON?

  6. Mary Olson04/30/2010Reply

    The Shaw Burger is my weakness and the fries rival any french fry in the Twin Cities. I have a Shaw burger every time that I’m in town. I keep telling Mike to raise his prices! No one serves a better burger for so little money.

  7. I had a Shaw Burger a few times and it is just awesome. Try it and you won’t be disappointed. Shaw’s is just one of the many great bars in NE Minneapolis!

  8. Sun burger, medium-rare, both fried and raw onions, with a side of home fries with season salt (or tots). Yum! I’ve never had a more crave-able burger. I find the Shaw burger to be too laden with toppings, personally. The burgers have been consistently delicious from Sun to Shaw’s, for at least the past 30 years or so.

  9. I believe the Sun Burger was originally from the Sun Saloon which is what Shaws used to be called, not the Sun Drive In

  10. THE SUN BURGER ORIGINALLY CAME FROM THE SUN DRIVE ON 28TH & CENTRAL.EST 1954. THEN TO THE SUN SALOON WHEN THE DRIVE IN CLOSED’
    THE SUN BURGER IS THE BOMB……..

  11. Does any one have any pictures of the old Sun Drive in on crental ave?

  12. Going there tonight to see The Butanes (& Willie Walker?) – deciding on what to eat – Shawburger sounds good but I heard there might be ribs on this rainy bluz night…

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