Dined on February 20th.
The NOOK is a St. Paul institution that has been around since 1938. They are known for their burgers, but specifically their Juicy Lucy burgers. A Juicy Lucy is a cheeseburger that has the cheese inside the meat patty instead of on top. Supposedly, two bars in Minneapolis (Matt’s Bar and 5-8 Club) claim to be the inventor of the burger, though other bars and restaurants have created their own variations of it. The NOOK is my favorite Juicy Lucy spot and the one I always recommend. A big thanks to the Food Network Show ‘Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives’ for introducing me to the NOOK.
First Impression: The NOOK is your typical hole-in-the-wall restaurant. The interior is rather small and narrow. The walls are plastered with memorabilia, photos of famous diners, and awards. Be prepared for a wait, as the place is always busy. On this visit we got there just after they opened and were able to get seated right away. As we left, the small bar was already packed, and a crowd had started to form in the tiny entryway.
The Paul Molitor ($9.50) is my favorite burger from the NOOK and the only one I’ve ever ordered. I can’t seem to deviate from this Juicy Nookie stuffed with pepper cheese. The burger is stuffed with so much cheese that it just oozes out with each bite. It is definitely messy, but so good. A word of caution: Eat the burger slowly, as the cheese is so hot coming out of the patty that it might burn your tongue, mouth and fingers. You get the spiciness from the pepper jack in every bite, which I love. The bun is so good and fresh that it makes the burger even tastier. Their fries are equally delicious. They are soaked overnight in vinegar water which makes them crisp up when they are cooked (very similar to the fries at the State Fair). All of their burgers are served with homemade fresh-cut french fries, and pickles on a fresh bakery bun. Fries can be substituted for onion rings, sweet potato fries or waffle for fries for an extra charge. Fried or raw onions are also available.
Sarah ordered the Lodge Burger ($10.25). This burger is char grilled just perfectly. The two pieces of bacon were flavorful and crispy. The thick slice of smoked cheddar cheese was melted to perfection and made it into every bite. Combine this with crisp lettuce, tomato and the slight kick of chipotle for a mighty good burger. Sarah decided to give it a try since the menu mentioned it is Joe Mauer’s favorite. She would agree that it is her new NOOK favorite as well.
Verdict: I love the NOOK. It is one of my favorite restaurants in the cities. I enjoy the atmosphere, the friendly service, and the whole experience of eating there. If you’ve never had a Juicy Lucy or had one at another place, I ask that you check them out and let me know your thoughts. Of course the NOOK is much more than burgers; I hear their wings, walleye sandwich, and BLT are worth ordering as well. There is also a bowling alley downstairs that you can enjoy after a quick bite.
492 Hamline Avenue S. Saint Paul, MN 55116 (651) 698-4347
Nook- 11am-1am: Sunday-Thursday
11 am-2 am: Friday- Saturday
Kitchen Hours – 11am-11pm: All Week