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Burger Friday: Suburban chain Willy McCoy's serves big Juicy Lucys at low prices

The burger: You're familiar with Burger Friday? Plan ahead for Burger Monday, because at Willy McCoy’s, the first day of the work week is all about burgers, beer and bargains.

The growing chain – there are five locations, and a sixth is opening soon in Chaska – slashes the prices of its burgers (reguarly in the $9.99-to-$12.49 range) in half on Monday. Yes, 50 percent. All day.

There are a dozen varieties, swinging from a straight-up California-style format and a “breakfast” burger (a beef patty topped with a sunny side up egg, applewood-smoked bacon and Cheddar) to a Cajun-seasoned patty smothered in a jalapeno-fueled beer-cheese soup and topped with beer-battered and deep-fried jalapeno caps.  Oh, and the menu’s four Juicy Lucy options (Willy McCoy’s skips the whole Jucy Lucy spelling) are also included in the deal.

I opted for the “Juicy McCoy.” The bruiser of a 9-oz. patty was stuffed with an evergreen combination: Cheddar, bacon bits and red onion slices that had been softened – and ever-so-slightly sweetened – on the stove.

Unlike the Juicy Lucys that follow the ooze-and-lose format – you know, a bite into the patty’s center unleashes a veritable gusher of scalding, molten cheese that hopefully lands on your plate and not on your lap – this one was far more restrained. There’s a presence of cheese, yes, but it tends to remain in the patty’s center, and not everywhere else. For those who have been burned, literally, by overheated cheese, this restraint is a major Juicy Lucy evolutionary development.

The patty was taken to a uniform medium, with a slight exterior char, and probably would have benefitted from a more vigorous approach to seasoning. The ground beef was packed tight, a technique that allowed it to hold its shape even though its center was brimming with those tasty fillings.

Toppings included a lettuce leaf, snips of raw red onion, a so-so tomato slice and a flimsy garlic aioli. The chief attribute of the slightly toasted bun was its prodigious size, almost big enough to hold up to the weighty demands of that hefty, star-of-the-show patty.

Those who follow the bigger-is-better burger format will be very happy here. And those who appreciate a stellar bargain – particularly on Mondays – will be ecstatic.

Price: $12.49 Tuesday through Sunday, a pretty decent value. The Monday price, $6.25, is a total steal.

Fries: Included (other options include Tater Tots, coleslaw or vegetables with dip). They’re pre-made crinkle cuts, there’s a huge handful of them, and they’re fine. More salt couldn't hurt.

Get this: Nearly every beer on the bar’s lengthy tap list is a two-for-one situation. All day. Every day. At the Bloomington location, that’s 26 beers (they generally fall somewhere in between $5.50 and $8), including local favorites like Lift Bridge Brewing Co.’s Farm Girl, Summit Brewing Co.’s EPA, Badger Hill Brewing Co.’s Traitor, Excelsior Brewing Co.’s Big Island Blonde (pictured, above) and Surly Brewing Co.’s Hell, Furious and Todd the Axeman.

Burger-and-beer fans, take note: Drop in on a Monday, pair the two-for one beers with one of those highly shareable Juicy Lucys and Willy McCoy’s just might be the most affordable date night in town.

Bonus round: The restaurant’s Bloomington location comes equipped with a suburban rarity, a rooftop bar and patio.

Address book: 5651 La Centre Drive, Albertville, 763-515-3600; 13655 Martin St. NW., Andover, 763-767-6333; 12450 Business Park Blvd., Champlin, 763-422-5020; 6415 Hwy. 10 NW., Ramsey, 763-717-8916; and 10700 France Av. S., Bloomington, 952-456-8905. Opening in August at 320 Pioneer Trail, Chaska, 952-500-9645.

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Brasa Rotisserie turns 10, celebrates with outdoor party on Sunday

Brasa’s original Minneapolis location is turning 10 and throwing a bigtime bash to mark the occasion.

The casual Southern, Caribbean and Mexican foods concept, opened a decade ago by Alma restaurateur Alex Roberts, is inviting patrons to join the staff in celebrating on Sunday.

What's on tap at the garage-like patio (600 E. Hennepin Av.)? Free food samples from the outdoor grill, live music with DJ Slamdunkapher and the grand tapping of Easy Tiger IPA, Brasa’s special collaboration beer with Able Seedhouse + Brewery.

The party starts at 11 a.m. (and wraps up at 4 p.m.), but if you want to feel good about all the bites and sips you’re about to throw down, show up for the free Intro A10 class with the Alchemy fitness gurus beforehand, kicking off at 10 a.m.

In other news: Brasa, which also has a St. Paul location on Grand Avenue, just instigated a brunch service and weekday happy hour, serving tacos, chicken wings, low-alcohol cocktails from Bittercube and more.

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