The Twin Cities Patty Orgy: Burger Jones

We continue our review of the new burger places that opened up in Minneapolis in the past couple of months. As of last night, I have completed the trifecta, but you'll have to wait a bit for my thoughts on Smashburger, because like everyone else, I'm going to talk about Burger Jones.

This is probably the first time, since I've lived in Minneapolis, that I've actually gotten caught up in the buzz about a restaurant. That's because I live a couple of blocks away from it. I hesitated to say this, because a clever Guy Fieri fan could find Yum, find Burger Jones, triangulate, and punch me in the face. Luckily for me, though, there are no clever Guy Fieri fans.

The most important thing about Burger Jones is this: it used to be an Applebee's. I cannot stress this enough. For most of the time I've lived where I do now, one could go over the bridge, park, and have dinner at an Applebee's. And we did, sometimes, because sometimes that's the kind of food we wanted without going more than a few blocks. And then Yum opened, and we could get mostly that kind of food, only better. And then the Applebee's closed, and I wondered what would replace it. And then, on Christmas Day, I shit you not, I read in the newspaper that it would be Burger Jones, an upscale burger joint from restaraunteurs who actually traveled around the world trying different burgers and buns and cheeses to decide what they wanted to make. So I was excited.

Well, so was everybody else, apparently, because after it opened, you couldn't get near the place. Two and a half hour waits for tables and hour-long waits for food were reported. So I waited a few weeks, and then, since I live in the area, we dropped in on a Tuesday evening. Still had to wait 20 minutes for a table, but otherwise, everything was snappy.

So how are the burgers? The burgers are damn good. I had the green chile burger, which was a burger, cheddar cheese, green chile salsa, a sprig of cilantro, and an onion ring. I normally don't eat burgers with breaded, deep-fried toppings, because I think it's gratuitous, but I was feeling pretty gratuitous that night, and oh, what an onion ring it was. About an inch thick, just a thin layer of breading, and the rest was all onion. Lovely.

The burger itself was thick and juicy. Somewhat surprisingly, it didn't explode with either beefiness or char. It wasn't a life-changing burger patty. But it was good, and tasty, and I suspect the pure explosion of umami I'm looking for lives in the porcini-crusted bison burger that I will be trying the next time I go there. The toppings were fabulous. I mean, I like cilantro, but it's not something I miss if it's not there. But when I hit that cilantro in this burger, it worked.

I also tried the ahi tuna sliders Cathy ordered. These do not live on the online menu on their site, so I hope they're not gone, because they were also excellent - little smashed tuna patties crusted with sesame seeds and smeared with a sweet chili sauce.

And of course, we got the now infamous Tri-Fry Tower, their three varieties of fries in an elevated basket. There are regular fries, which are very good - crisp and potatoey shoestrings. There are the waffle fries, which are very good - traditional waffle fries dusted with Parmesan. And then there are the Maple Bacon Sweet Potato Fries, which will make you briefly forget that any other french fry exists in this universe. If Burger Jones did nothing else right, they would be worth going to just to eat these fries. The maple and the bacon are subtle - I'm not sure where the flavors come from, because no, they're not coated with syrup or tossed with bacon bits, but they're there, in the background, making a crispy sweet potato fry taste a bit smoky and complicated. Plus you get dipping sauces, which are good. Sweet potato fries in chipotle aioli? Fuck yes.

They sell strange things I want to try even if my body rejects them like a back alley organ transplant. They sell chicken-fried bacon. They sell deep-fried cheese curds. They sell poutine. They sell burger dogs, which are hot dogs in the shape of burger patties so that they can put them on burger buns with burger toppings. They sell a short-rib chili that they put on those burger dogs and chili fries and will even put in a bowl. I want to eat all these things at some point.

Oh, and they make their own soda. THEY MAKE THEIR OWN SODA. A ginger brew, a cherry lime rickey, and a blackberry mint. But they also serve 1919 Root Beer, so that's what I had, because 1919 Root Beer is awesome.

If there are three key things I want you to take away from Burger Jones, the first two are things I've already mentioned. One, it used to be an Applebee's. Anything that replaces an Applebee's is a good thing. That this has replaced Applebee's is an awesome thing. Second, they make their own soda. That's a goddamned commitment to the theme. And third, you will spend more than you think you will spend from looking at the menu.

I mean, it's not crazy expensive. After tip, we got out of there for twenty bucks a head. But the menu makes it look cheaper. It's meant to. But there are add-ons. Add-ons to the burger, add-ons to the fries, etc. There are no cheap sodas, because, well, they make their own. So you can't get a one buck Coke there. If you want a soda, it's around four bucks. All that adds up. Is it a bad value? No. You get what you pay for, and then some. I mean, I wasn't hungry, AT ALL, until around 10 a.m. the next morning. But if you look at the menu and the pricing and have a final total in mind before you walk in, you'll probably walk out with a touch of sticker shock due to the "Oh, I have to try THAT" factor. So be prepared.

I anxiously look forward to the day when the buzz wears off a bit of Burger Jones, and it becomes a neighborhood casual-dining place with damn fine food. Now, it's a destination restaurant, because everyone should try it at least once. So dodge the weekends and plan accordingly.



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Deep fried cheese curds were yummy when I tried them at Arby's, and since Arby's doesn't sell anything that doesn't come frozen and preformed I can only assume they'd be absolutely delicious in a real restaurant.  Poutine is one of those things that sounds good to me every time it's described, but that I've never had the opportunity to try.

At the risk of sounding dumb,

At the risk of sounding dumb, what's poutine? And dang if you haven't got me wanting to try this place. Too bad it's in Minneapolis.
While I laugh at the bile you direct at Guy Fieri, I have to ask, why all the hate? True, he's nothing like an accomplished chef, he won a contest, fer chrissakes, but he seems a likable enough *guy*, and I actually enjoy his "Diners,etc." show, he finds a lot of awesome places I'd like to eat at. Maybe you'll expound more fully on this in another post, cause, dangit, inquiring minds want to know, and, I suspect, there'll be more laughworthy bilebombs directed at the hapless Guy.

OMG, yum!

We ate at Burger Jones today. I had the Hangover (burger + fried egg= AWESOME, especially since there was also bacon and cheddar on it) and TJ had the White Trash (cheese curds and chicken fried bacon and Velveeta on the burger). And a side of regular fries to share. And a Nutella shake.
I don't think I'm going to need to eat again before tomorrow! But SUnday afternoon around 2 was a good time to go; there was no wait, and we were out of there in under 45 minutes.
We *will* be going back.

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