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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 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 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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Fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant opens to big crowds in IDS Center

One of downtown Minneapolis’ most prominent buildings has another fast-casual lunch option.

Roti Modern Mediterranean, a Chicago-based chain, opened its first Minnesota location on Wednesday, with the line flowing out into the IDS Center’s Crystal Court.

The Chipotle-style setup touts customizable meals – salads, rice plates, sandwiches or wraps – that feature proteins such as spicy lamb meatballs, falafel, steak, chicken and salmon kabobs topped with various pickled vegetables, salads and sauces.

Gluten-free options, including pita bread, served warm, abound.

Roti, which has 30 outlets in all (in six states plus the District of Columbia), replaces Cosi in the IDS ground floor space.

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