At Heavy Table HQ, we get a lot of press releases. Some are immediately intriguing, others baffling — as in, why would CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta’s endorsement of a burrito make us want to eat it? But when we received one about the Stadium Burger at Gold Nugget Tavern & Grille being named the best burger by Metromix Twin Cities for the second year of the row, we decided to check it out for ourselves. With all the hoopla over hamburgers in this area over the past few years, it’s hard to take any “best burger” claim with more than a grain of salt. But hey, we love burgers, so we were up for a field trip to Minnetonka for a taste.
And you know what? The Stadium Burger ($12) is a damn good burger. Does it achieve the Juicy Nookie’s level of gooey-oozy-cheesey-beefy nirvana? Well, no, but it’s a hearty, juicy, and well-seasoned burger that merits a drive from anywhere in the Twin Cities.
Let’s start with the beef. The Stadium Burger features a thick patty grilled on a flat top cooked either “pink” or “no pink.” Unless you enjoy dried-out ground beef, go with pink so you can relish the flavorful juices that flow with each bite. The shiny, crusty, appropriately chewy pretzel bun encasing the burger stands up nicely to the patty’s heft and doesn’t crumble under the squeeze of your fingers — who can stand a wimpy bun, anyway? The slice of American cheese slipped in between the bun and burger isn’t fancy, but it gets the job done with its melty, milky flavor, and if you pay the extra dollar for caramelized onions, which you should, you’ll get a delightful burst of sweetness that balances the saltiness of the beef and cheese. A cup of nacho cheese sauce accompanies the burger, but it’s totally superfluous. Instead, use it as a dip for the top-notch fries — you can’t go wrong with either the traditional or sweet potato variety — and savor your burger as is.
Gold Nugget also likes to call out its special burger of the week — a new one every week of the year, no repeats — but honestly, the Stadium Burger is all you need for a satisfying burger experience. After all, once you go pretzel bun, it’s hard to go back.
Gold Nugget Tavern & Grille, 14401 Excelsior Blvd, Minnetonka; 952.935.3600.