Editor’s Note: HellBurgers is closed.
Damn Good Food may be the title of the Hell’s Kitchen cookbook, but damn good food is missing at the new HellBurgers in Duluth’s Canal Park. The former Hell’s Kitchen closed at the turn of the year, as part of an effort to transform the high-end breakfast spot into a burger-focused lunch destination. It reopened on Jan. 14 with the menu painted on the door and bright green painted on the walls. The renovation has led to large improvements in the marketing and aesthetics of the restaurant, but the quality of the food could use an overhaul of its own.
The menu says that the burgers are “award-winning,” but there’s not much to back up the assertion on the plate. The Inferno Burger ($10), one of the restaurant’s most popular burgers, is cooked medium with melted pepper jack cheese and comes with raw red onions, raw jalapeños, tomato, and lettuce. The bun is slathered in “honey-chipotle sauce” that is more reminiscent of Arby’s sauce — it’s one-dimensional, sweet at the expense of deep flavor. All the burger’s heat comes from the raw jalapeños that overpower the underripe tomato, raw onions, and whitish / yellow lettuce.
The Devil Dog ($8) is a “Chicago-style Kosher foot long,” but after the the relish-soaked bun falls apart and shrivels up in the basket, you are left with two six-inch hot dogs that call to mind the warm water bath at a service station more readily than they do a Chicago foodcart.
You can avoid a relish-soaked bun if you order a corn dog ($7), but if you are looking for the sweet, salty, and balanced taste that you get at the Minnesota State Fair, you are better off waiting until August. The corn dog is made with a homemade batter that turns into a crusty, oily shell that protects a foot-long hot dog on a shish kebab skewer. The tiny bit of stick poking out of the end is nearly impossible to hold onto — leaving you to pick the whole thing up with your hand, thus defeating the stick’s purpose entirely.
The bright green wall and projection screen have given the restaurant a new allure, but the food is far from award-winning or satisfying. With the legendary cashew burger at the Anchor Bar in Superior, or the wild rice burger at the Brewhouse, or the Big Daddy Burger, or even one of the new Five Guys, it is worth going somewhere else.
310 Lake Ave S
Duluth, MN 55802
HOURS: 11am-midnight daily
OWNER: Mitch Omer
AVERAGE ENTREE: $9-$11