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Burger Friday: Here are 26 places where Twin Cities chefs get their burger fix

Burger Friday is on hiatus, and will return on Nov. 30.

Until then, let's look back at a favorite segment of Burger Friday (for me, anyway), the part where I ask chefs and restaurateurs where they like to go for a burger, with one caveat: the response can't include their own restaurant(s).

It should come as no surprise that chefs are just like the rest of us, because of the 20 mostly-from-2018 replies that I've summarized here, many of them call out the cheese-stuffed Jucy Lucy at Matt's Bar (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo) in south Minneapolis. A classic is a classic is a classic, right?

But read on, because this discerning crowd rattles off an additional 25 other-than-Matt's options, all worth checking out. Here goes: 

I’ll go to Saint Dinette (that's the restaurant's cheeseburger, pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo), or I’ll go old-school and go to Matt’s. I have the best rapport with Adam and Laurel [Saint Dinette chef Adam Eaton and general manager Laurel Elm], so it’s almost like going over to a friend’s house to eat.” -- Shane Oporto, Octo Fishbar and Birch’s Lowertown

Matt’s Bar has the best in town, bar none. The 112 makes an amazing cheeseburger. And I’m a big In-N-Out fan. When I was living in Vegas, I drank the In-N-Out Kool-Aid, and fell in love. If I’m going for a fast-food burger, it’s the only way to go. It’s definitely something I miss about the Vegas area.” -- Matt Leverty, Tullibee

“The burger at Parlour is a classic. And you can’t go wrong with Matt’s Bar. That’s an old-school classic.”  -- Mike Fritz, Tap Society

“I like the standards. I love Matt’s, and when I’m not looking for a stuffed burger, Lions Tap is always great. I love restaurants where, if you ask for something different – a change to the burger, or extra-crispy fries – and the response is, ‘Nope.’ I like going places and being told ‘No,’ because that says that they have a system, they have a way of doing things. It’s their way, and, god bless them, they feel comfortable saying ‘No, this is what we do and how we do it, and if you don’t like it, have a good day.’” -- Peter Hoff, Nolo’s Kitchen & Bar

“I love burgers. Hoppers Bar & Grill in Waconia has the greasiest, most delicious burgers, ever. Going toward the Cities, I like the Rock Elm Tavern in Plymouth. They have a burger with roasted mushrooms, MontAmore cheese [a Wisconsin-made, Parmesan-inspired cheese] and a walnut aioli that’s really, really good. Lions Tap (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo), Matt’s Bar, it’s hard to pick my favorites. There are so many good burgers out there.” -- Lucas Ballweber, Arcane Kitchen

“I’ll start off by saying I went to Hamburguesas El Gordo and thought it was a California burger on steroids. I liked it, a lot. But I’m going to have to say the Parlour burger. It’s still the equivalent of a big rib eye at a steak joint. I haven’t made a hamburger patty that decadent yet.” -- Alan Scholer, Bad Gyros

“I love Parlour, and Revival, those burgers are addictive and absolutely delicious. And I’m a big fan of Flameburger, the one on Central (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo), for a whole slew of reasons. It’s the whole stepping-back-in-time thing, the simple American diner. It’s unpretentious, it’s great people-watching. It’s also great to go there from a cook’s perspective and look at their equipment, and watch how they put out burgers, or breakfast. It’s pretty awesome.” -- Doug Flicker, Bull’s Horn Food & Drink

“I think Red Cow has the best burger in town [his favorite is the Double Barrel Burger]. It’s a smash burger like everyone else is doing, but it’s really good. I’m not a big smash burger fan, I like the meat to be medium-rare. But this is the most enjoyable smash burger in town. It’s got flavor to it, it’s juicy and I think it’s perfect. It has caramelized onions, which I love. And it comes with fries, which is important. A lot of places in town are doing that now, for the value. Which I think is really smart. People are looking for value, and they’ll tell you what they want. It’s about listening to them, about giving people the meal that they want, and charging them a fair price for it.” -- Adam Eaton, Meyvn

“I still love the Lakeview Drive Inn, how can you go wrong with that? They do chopped onions on the flat top with their burgers. I don’t know where that comes from, the whole chopped vs. sliced vs. shaved onion thing. Is it a White Castle thing? The chopped steamed onions with a burger? Anyway, the Lakeview isn’t pretentious, it’s not trying to win a Beard award. It’s summer, it’s fun.” -- Scott Pampuch, McKinney Roe (and native Winonan)

“Going out and having a cheeseburger is pretty rare because of my work schedule. When I am off, I try to spend time with my wife and our son, who just turned two. On the rare occasions when we go, it’s usually when we’re visiting my wife’s parents in South Dakota. She’s from Sioux Falls, so when we’re there, we’ll go to JL Beers, it’s right by the hotel [there’s a branch of the Fargo-based chain in Minneapolis]. One of the reasons why I like their burger so much is that you can tell they put some thought into the kind of bun they wanted to use. That’s so important.” -- Sam Collins, Feller

“I live over south, and if I’m not making them myself, we’ll go to Northbound. But I’ve got two kids, and they definitely prefer eating burgers at home. They’re very particular these days, I’ve created little monsters. My daughter, if she orders a burger medium-rare and it’s too pink, or not pink enough, she’ll say, ‘That’s not right.’ It’s cute, but sometimes it’s a bit much for a 7-year-old.” John Lambe, Draft Horse

“I love Brunson’s Pub, it’s probably my favorite restaurant. I don’t get burgers a lot if I go out – because I can eat them here, every day – but I like the burgers at Brunson’s, very much.” -- Destiny Buron, Home Street Home Cafe

“If I have to be completely honest, my favorite is probably Culver’s.That might sound stupid, for a chef to love a fast-food burger. But they do a really good job. I don’t eat a ton of them, because there aren’t a lot of Culver’s locations in the cities. But that’s my go-to burger.” -- Ben Piene, Surly Brewing Co.

“Oh god, I go everywhere, but I couldn’t tell you right off the top of my head. I used to be good friends with Rick at Mickey’s Diner (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo) and I’d go there.” -- Jim Wagner, Wagner’s Drive-In

“I don’t have any favorites, I guess. I order a burger almost every dang place I go. I could tell you about places that I don’t like. I can’t stand an overcooked patty in a bun that isn’t toasted, that doesn’t go together very well. If I had to pick a place, there’s Snuffy’s — it’s now called the Original Malt Shop — it’s near my house, in Roseville. I’ve always gone there.” -- Steve Ramlow, Simply Steve’s

“I’m a huge burger person. My two favorites – the ones I eat on a regular basis – are the 'Paul Molitor' at Shamrocks. It’s a Juicy Lucy, but it’s filled with pepper jack cheese. I grew up eating them. And the burgers at Kelly’s Depot Bar & Grill. They’re just regular burgers – there’s nothing fancy about them, at all -- and they’re really delicious.” -- Elizabeth Tinucci, Colossal Cafe

“To be fair, there aren’t too many burgers that I don’t like. There are just so many options right now. I love the Nook (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo), but that’s a terrible one to say, because it’s everybody’s go-to. Oh, and Dusty’s Bar in northeast Minneapolis. It’s not really a burger, it’s an Italian sausage patty. When I was at La Belle Vie, I used to go to Dusty’s every Friday for lunch.” -- Mike Decamp, Monello

“I’m not much of a burger guy, I’m more of a sausage guy. I like the burger at Kelly’s Depot Bar & Grill, because it’s a St. Paul dive bar, and I have a propensity for St. Paul dive bars. I’d have to say the best burger I’ve had recently was at Bull’s Horn. It was awesome.” -- Jack Riebel, the Lexington

“I was at the new Blue Door Pub at Lyn-Lake last week. They’ve got a special on Monday: $3 for a [single-patty] burger, and another 50 cents for a slice of cheese. That burger? It was amazing. Then there’s the Bryant-Lake Bowl, it’s still my favorite Kim Bartmann restaurant. I like the 'Bad Breath' burger [a Cajun-seasoned beef patty topped with caramelized onions, blue cheese and roasted garlic aioli], and it’s great because they don’t serve fries. We should all be sick of fries.” -- Matt Quist, Taher Inc.

“I live right by Matt’s. Which means that I live too close to Matt’s.”  -- Beth Fisher, Thirty Bales

The baking legacy Minnesota gave the world — the Bundt — is being celebrated Thursday

Thursday is not only National Bundt Day, it’s Minnesota Bundt Day. For real.

“We actually have an official proclamation from the governor from 10-plus years ago,” said Jenny Dalquist, Nordic Ware’s executive vice president of marketing and sales. “You know how food holidays have taken over, and there’s a day for everything? So why not Bundts? It’s fun, and every year it gains more traction.”

Nordic Ware has been manufacturing Bundt pans at its St. Louis Park factory for 73 years (“And we have no intention of making them anywhere else,” said Dalquist, a third-generation member of the family-owned company), and usually maintains about 100 different designs in its inventory at any given time, including this popular new beauty, the "Brilliance.

The company's past Bundt Day celebrations have incorporated social media contests of all sorts, from “Show us Your Bundt Collection” (“There are some crazed Bundt fanatics that you might call ‘hoarders,’” said Dalquist with a laugh) to “Most Beautiful Bundt Cakes.” This year’s theme is “Alternate Uses for Bundt Pans.”

“You know, roasting a chicken over the cone of a Bundt,” said Dalquist.

Participation is easy: Follow @nordiwareusa on Instagram, post an image of an “alternative #Bundt use including displays, decorations, art pieces, super creative savory and sweet recipe creations” — and don’t forget to use the hashtag #allaboutbundts. Post up until 11:59 Central Standard Time on Nov. 14. The winner will be announced on Nov. 15.

The top prize receives a $250 shop-a-thon on Even better, it also includes a 2019 Bundt design that hasn’t been released to the public.

“It’ll be the very first pan off the line,” said Dalquist. “We’re really excited about this brand-new shape.”

No National (fill-in-the-blank) Day is worth celebrating without a few deals, and the upcoming 24 Hours of All Things Bundt is no exception. 

Buy any cast Bundt bakeware item at on Nov. 15 and receive a Cinnamon Spice Bundt cake mix. Purchase a second cast Bundt bakeware item and received a free “Best of the Bundt” cookbook.

Those who shop at Nordic Ware's brick-and-mortar Factory Store (4925 County Road 25, St. Louis Park) on Nov. 15 and purchase a cast aluminum Bundt pan will receive either a free Gourmet Bundt Mix or a free Bundt cookbook.

Finally, Nordic Ware is partnering with Nothing Bundt Cakes (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo) for a freebie: visit any of the bakery’s seven Twin Cities locations on Nov. 15, mention “Minnesota Bundt Day” and receive a free Bundtlet cake with the purchase of a Bundtlet cake.

Surprisingly, Dalquist keeps just one Bundt pan in her home kitchen. It’s the “Bavaria” model, an old family favorite. (The Bundt cake pictured at the top -- a Star Tribune file photo -- was baked in a "Bavaria" pan).

“It has all these pleats and folds, and it’s beautiful,” she said. “It’s an old model.”

But she stores about 20 other Bundt designs in her garden shed, for the sole purpose of creating luminarias in the winter.

“You put a candle in the middle of them, and they’re beautiful,” she said. (That's some of her handiwork, below; photo by Jenny Dalquist). "Since November is the new January in Minnesota, it's the ideal pre-Thanksgiving family craft project."

It looks like she should enter her own contest.

Finally, why not celebrate this day-of-days by baking the most famous Bundt cake of all time? It was a Pillsbury Bake-Off winner -- curiously, baker Ella Rita Helfrich of Houston didn't win the contest's grand prize that year, although she walked away with a $5,000 in runner-up cash, which is worth approximately $38,500 in today's dollars -- and it sparked a craze for Bundt pans. Nordic Ware has cranked out more than 50 million of them -- one is even in the Smithsonian -- since Helfrich's recipe rocketed to fame in 1966. 

Serves 12 to 14.
Note: Technically, this isn't Helfrich's recipe, since a key component -- a Pillsbury boxed fudge frosting mix -- is no longer available. But it's a close facsimile. For additional flavor, toast the nuts (spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake 5 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees, shaking pan once or twice during baking, until they begin to give off an aroma). Dutch-processed cocoa is a richer, darker cocoa, treated with alkali to neutralize cocoa's natural acidity. Adapted from Cook's Country magazine. Glaze adapted from "Baking" by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin, $40).

For cake:
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 c. boiling water
3/4 c. Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus extra for pan
2 c. flour
2 c. walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 c. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pan
For glaze:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. water

To prepare cake
: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 12-cup Bundt pan and dust with cocoa powder, tapping out excess. Place bittersweet chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Add boiling water, whisk until smooth, cool to room temperature and reserve.
In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, walnuts (or pecans), powdered sugar and salt and reserve.
In a large measuring cup, whisk together eggs and vanilla extract and reserve.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat granulated sugar, brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add egg mixture and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. Add chocolate mixture and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth batter with a rubber spatula and bake until edges are beginning to pull away from pan, about 45 minutes; do not overbake (do not use a cake tester, toothpick or skewer to test the cake).
Remove to a wire rack and cool, upright, for 1 1/2 hours. Invert cake onto serving plate and cool completely, at least 2 hours.
To prepare glaze: Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine cream, granulated sugar and water and bring to a boil. Pour liquid over chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds. Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, gently stir chocolate and cream together in small circles, starting at center of bowl and working your way out in increasingly larger concentric circles. Leave glaze at room temperature until it thickens just enough to pour in a ribbon, about 20 minutes. Drizzle glaze over cake and let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Poll: How do you like your doughnuts?

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