After I'd written about J.L. Beers in Fargo earlier this year, I'd heard from a couple people from the Fargo area who thought that the burger at Lucky's 13 Pub was the best in Fargo. I looked up Lucky's 13 on the Internet and found out that they were actually based in the Twin Cities with the original location in suburban Mendota, and a location in Bloomington, not far from the Hampton Inn that I like to stay at when I'm in the area. I'd had a couple morning meetings and was headed back out to the hotel to prepare for a meeting later in the day and decided to run by Lucky's 13 and see if their burgers were as good as advertised.
The people behind Lucky's 13 are Charlie Burrows and Linda Young, longtime partners who were behind the Axel's restaurants in the greater Twin Cities area. (Click here to see my entry on the Axel's Bonfire location in Savage, MN.) Burrows and Young sold their interest in the Axel's restaurants a couple three years ago and now run the Rudy's Redeye Grill in Rosemount with three other locations around Minnesota. They also run the Me and Julio Mexican restaurant in suburban Hastings.
Before selling their interests in the Axel's restaurants, Young and Burrows opened the first Lucky 13's Pub in what was the old Mendota Saloon in suburban Mendota in the fall of 2007, just a block away from the original Axel's restaurant on Minnesota Highway 13 (hence, the "13" in the name). They opened their second Lucky's 13 location out in Spearfish, SD in late 2009. The third location in Bloomington opened not long after that in a former Bennigan's restaurant near the intersection of Interstate 494 and Interstate 35W, just across the freeway from the corporate headquarters of Best Buy. They expanded to Fargo, ND in the fall of 2011.
It was after the noon rush when I got into the Lucky's 13 location in Bloomington. The address - 1800 American Boulevard West - is a little confusing. Actually, Lucky's 13 is located north of the intersection of American Blvd. West and Knox Ave. on Southtown Circle, just to the east of Southtown Shopping Center (see map). I went in and sort of stood at the front door waiting for a hostess or, at the least, a waitress to greet me and direct me to a seat. When no one showed up, I walked to the large rectangular bar and took a seat. The bartender greeted me and she asked me if I wanted something to drink. I said, "I'd take a menu, first."
I then asked her if they had any Surly Brewery products available. She said, "No, I'm sorry." I started to look at what they had on tap and I noticed an Alaskan Brewery beer tap. When I asked her what Alaskan beer she had on tap, she said, "That's the Amber." Sold! I love Alaskan beer.
The interior of the Bloomington Lucky's 13 Pub location is open and bright in the daytime. It featured brick walls and matching brick pillars with ornate tin ceiling tiles. A number of flat screens were throughout the place with good viewing angles from just about every seat in the bar. Old time pictures hung on the brick walls. I especially liked some of the old Minnesota Twins team pictures they had in the men's room. It was smaller than Joe Senser's, but I sort of liked the layout a little better. While I like Joe Senser's as a sports bar, I'm always looking for alternatives since I don't want to get burned out on going to one place over and over. Even without trying the food, Lucky's 13 immediately became an alternative.
The lunch menu is primarily burgers and sandwiches with a number of appetizers, salads and entrees including bacon-wrapped meat loaf, pan-fried or deep-fried walleye, shepards pie, and fried chicken. Actually, the dinner menu isn't much different, only without some of the lunch specials they offer.
The one thing that stood out were the prices. They were certainly proud of the food at Lucky's 13. A basic 1/3 lb. burger is $9.99, while most of the specialty burgers were $10.99 to $11.49. The sandwiches were also a little pricey - they ranged from $9.49 for a basic B.L.T. or a grilled four cheese sandwich to $13.99 for a walleye B.L.T. Most of the sandwiches were in the $10.99 to $11.99 range. But you also get your choice of sides with the sandwiches or burgers, so that takes a little bit of the sting out of the price.
Even though some of the sandwiches sounded good - like the Chivito that featured sliced beef, egg, bacon, ham, olives and mozzarella cheese; or the meatloaf melt - I was looking more favorably at the extensive burger list they had. Even seeing cajun walleye fish tacos on the menu didn't steer me away from the burgers.
Lucky's 13 Pub has just under 20 burgers to choose from on their menu. In addition to their basic burger (add cheese for $1.00), they also have a number of interesting and eclectic burgers to choose from. The Sunrise burger is topped with a fried egg, ham, cheddar cheese and a cake of hash browns; the Sweet Heat has grilled, candied jalapenos along with onions and cheddar cheese on top; and the French Onion burger is topped with onions, au jus sauce and provolone cheese. They have two different variations of the Twin Cities stuffed burger known as the Juicy Lucy (or Jucy Lucy, depending upon your preferred spelling) - the Juicy Lulu stuffed with American cheese, and the Stuffed Bleu - stuffed with bleu cheese and bacon bits.
Quite actually, my choice that day was between the Stuffed Bleu, the Mushroom/Swiss burger that I was going to have them put some bacon on top for an extra buck, or the signature Lucky 13 burger that is topped with sweet onions, cheddar cheese, bacon and sweet peppadew peppers. At the last second, I switched my choice from the mushroom/Swiss/bacon burger to the Lucky 13 burger. I love sweet peppadew peppers and wondered how they'd take on a burger. I got a choice of side that included fries, onion rings, kettle chips, fruit or cole slaw. For an extra buck you could get some of Lucky 13's loaded tater tots (which sounded interesting) or sweet potato fries. I asked the bartender if the onion rings were homemade and she said, "Absolutely. They're very good." I took the onion rings.
After awhile, a young man brought my burger out for me and grabbed some ketchup and mustard for me. The burger was placed between a lightly toasted sesame seed bun. Two strips of bacon were criss-crossed over the patty, which was layered with the peppadew peppers, sweet onions and cheddar cheese. I wasn't sure what to expect for the onion ring sides as far as how much I'd get or what they'd be like, but they gave me four somewhat large rings. I decided that was perfect because I didn't really need more of that.
The burger was ordered medium, but it was much more medium-well than that. The bun was light and fluffy and tasted pretty well. The burger, itself, was just OK. It was a little over-cooked to my liking, but the sweet onions and sweet peppadew peppers were a nice combination of taste on the burger. The bacon wasn't limp, but definitely not overcooked and brittle. While I couldn't say it was an outstanding burger, it was far from bad. I could name a couple three places in the Twin Cities off the top of my head that head better burgers than the one at Lucky's 13 Pub.
But the highlight was definitely the onion rings. They had a nice little spicy bite to the taste. After a bit I wish I would have gotten more than just the four large rings they gave me as a side. The batter was flaky and the onions were sweet. The only problem is that they gave me indigestion later in the day. I like the taste of fried onions, but they don't like me afterward.
The burger at Lucky's 13 Pub was good, but definitely not great. That's not to say that I won't go back, because I will. The menu is long and diverse enough that I know I can try something else on my next visit. Given the amount of televisions they have, if I want to catch a sporting event on TV when I'm in the Twin Cities I can easily do that at Lucky's 13. I'll give them another chance on their burger - probably getting the mushroom/Swiss/bacon burger next time. Or I may try one of their interesting sandwiches. The atmosphere was nice, the service was adequate, and the food and beer selection was above average. Lucky's 13 was a nice place for a good lunch.