Hell’s Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis recently got into the jucy lucy business with its “Juicy Lucifer.” Honestly, we were a little nervous to try a burger that has been pulled “straight into Hell.” Food named in honor of the devil will generally set your mouth — if not your stomach — ablaze, daring you to keep eating. If it doesn’t steal your soul, it will at least excite and entice.
Our apprehension was unwarranted: the Juicy Lucifer ($13.95) is tame — an expensive run-of-the-mill sandwich that’s ostensibly on the menu to please tourists wanting the “authentic” Twin Cities experience of eating a burger filled with cheese.
Chopped jalapenos in the meat and a side of “spicy red pepper jelly” supposedly make the Lucifer devilish. However, we couldn’t taste the jalapenos and the jelly was so sickly sweet we didn’t want to taste it. The only remotely frightening feature was the scalding hot cheese. The Lucifer is prepared in the two-patty variation: Two relatively thin beef patties are fitted around American cheese and grilled to medium-well. With little prodding, the cheese oozes out the side of the high-quality, flavorful meat, making a gooey sauce. The bun was decently chewy and the red onion, dill pickles, and lettuce were adequate (the tomato slices were utterly flavorless, however). Floppy, seemingly old fries were almost inedible, and off-putting ketchup tasted of tomato paste and applesauce (we dipped the few fries we did eat in the meaty cheese sauce, instead). When will restaurants realize that old-school ketchup doesn’t need gussying up?
While we get going to Hell’s Kitchen’s for breakfast (lemon-ricotta hotcakes are worth the trip into downtown), there’s no reason for locals to shell out 14 bucks to eat the Juicy Lucifer. You can get a similar style of burger for cheaper and with better fries (and regular ketchup!) at Matt’s Bar, the 5-8 Club, or Blue Door (which serves the best of the two-patty ju[i]cies). Or you can go to the Nook for our favorite cheese-filled burger, the Juicy Nookie. The St. Paul institution forms the burger around the cheese and cooks the single thick patty to a juicy, pinkish medium. Served with fantastic fries, the Nookie is downright heavenly.
Hell’s Kitchen, 80 S 9th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402; 612.332.4700