The Twin Cities are full of transplants from the Fargo-Moorhead area, and many of them cheered when they heard that their beloved burger joint chain, JL Beers, was coming to Minneapolis. Known for its simple approach to classic burgers and healthy appreciation for good suds, JL Beers had already amassed a strong following when we popped in for an early lunch last Wednesday.
JL Beers is no stranger to expansion; seven new locations have sprouted up in the Dakotas over the past few years. The first Twin Cities location opened April 23, and already the spot is running like a well-oiled machine. Although it can come off as a bit corporate (we counted over five trademarked menu items), the menu is built around familiar, no-frills, diner-style burgers. The thin patties are full of flavor, exemplified in the JL Burger, a house specialty with two patties, sauteed onions, pickles, cheese, and special sauce.
No diner burger is complete without a floppy bun, a soft layer that wraps around the meat without demanding too much of the spotlight, and JL Beers does this just right. Thankfully, this joint also dispenses with the pretense of asking how you want your burger prepared; the guy behind the grill knows best, so we let him decide. You can top your burger with any number of add-ons, ranging from the 49-cent jalapeños to the 99-cent egg to the $2.29 extra burger patty. We kept things traditional, but we like having the option to add bacon, cheese, and grilled onions to any burger we want.
The fries were a hit, especially the fresh hand-cut variety, which looked a lot better than the thin-cut McDonald's-style alternative. The restaurant gets extra points for offering up homemade chips as an option, though most folks on our visit stuck with fries.
While the menu and the decor both push the beer side of the brand -- 40 varieties on tap! -- our beer snob companion was not impressed. He rattled off four spots within walking distance that have stronger selections. Undeniably, the winners here are the burger fans, as beer aficionados will continue to gravitate toward more brew-centric spots in the Twin Cities metro.
The most affordable burgers come in below $5 and none of them exceeds $7, but everything is a la carte so be prepared to shell out a touch north of $10 to get some potatoes and leave a tip.
24 University Ave NE., Minneapolis
Open every day from 11 a.m. to midnight