I love a hamburger so, it should come as no surprise that I sample the local offerings pretty much everywhere I go. The Nook, in St Paul Minnesota, definitely ranks near the top of my Best Burger list. Located in a family neighborhood, you can expect a wait almost anytime you go. Don’t let that discourage you however, it is definitely worth it!
The Nook has been in business since 1938 and while it has seen various owners, the recipe for the burgers has remained constant and delicious! Celebrities both worldwide and local have left their mark on the Nook. For those of us old enough to remember Leave it to Beaver (1957 – 1963), I have watched it in syndication since I am wayyyy to young to have seen it when it first aired, Ken Osmond, Eddie Haskell on the show, has his picture on the wall of the Nook. Looking for a bigger star, Barbara Streisand said it was the best Juicy Lucy she had every had, after sampling a Nook specialty burger following her concert in 2006. Still need more star power, Guy Fieri showcased the Nook on his show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives in 2011 and named them to his Best Burger list in 2015. There is even a burger on the menu called Guy’s Big Bite. It is a pepper jack stuffed burger topped with roast beef, cheddar and bacon but, more on the food in the next paragraph. For a little local color, Paul Molitor, the current manager of the Minnesota Twins, went to high school across the street. If you look above the sign on the store front you will see a target where Molitor allegedly hit the building with a long homer. He has a burger named for him on the menu as well.
Burgers and More
The Nook is known for its stuffed burgers, called a Juicy Lucy. The Juicy Lucy (or at some places the Jucy Lucy) was invented in South Minneapolis in the 1950’s. It is two thin hamburger patties sealed around the cheese rather than having the cheese on top. WARNING: Don’t bite into a Juicy Lucy right away. That cheese is HOT! The Nook offers 5 variations: Guy’s Big Bite, the Paul Molitor (Guy’s burger without the toppings), the Nookie burger (burger stuffed with American cheese), the Spanish Fly chorizo burger stuffed with queso blanco, and the Stuffed Philly (cheeseburger stuffed with green peppers, mushrooms, onion and Swiss cheese).They also serve a wide variety of traditional burgers and sandwiches. The french fries are fresh cut and the serving is large. The bar has a wide variety of local brews on tap and the waitresses are happy to bring you a sample if you can’t choose.
The Nook if full of character but it is not large. There is a single line of booths down both walls of the restaurant and a bar for seating. If that is full, which it usually is, there is also seating downstairs that comes with its own bowling alley. The roof and walls of the downstairs space are covered with dollar bills. If you have the opportunity to go to the Nook, don’t miss it, and if you have time, lots of time, see if you can find my dollar!