St. Clair Broiler vs. Mac's Industrial: Tuna melt down

The tuna melt from Mac's Industrial
The tuna melt from Mac's Industrial
Sean McPherson

Ah, the humble tuna melt. One can find tumblrs, blogs, and a surfeit of articles about the grilled cheese or the Reuben, but where is the love for the tuna melt? We pitted two of the finest Twin Cities tuna melts against each other to give this classic sandwich the attention it deserves -- and to see who gets our Golden Albacore award.

See also: Coup D'Etat vs. Porchetteria: Walk Up Window

The tuna melt from St. Clair Broiler
The tuna melt from St. Clair Broiler
Sean McPherson

The Venue: St. Clair Broiler and Mac's Industrial are situated in two very different sections of the Twin Cities. The Broiler is the go-to spot for families taking a visit to nearby Macalester College and is a classic diner through and through, though they do serve beer and wine. Mac's Industrial has a neighborhood bar vibe even if it sits in the heart of a commercial area. While the food at Mac's is no slouch, this spot is pretty well known for being a drinking man's bar. So with its diner credentials, St. Clair Broiler seems more like a spot where one might find a well executed tuna melt.

The Weigh-in: St. Clair Broiler has been part of the Rudolph's Bar-B-Que Empire since 2006, which brought plenty of welcome improvements to the restaurant's offerings but also brought slightly higher prices, which ruffled some feathers in the neighborhood. Mac's Industrial has a reputation for a delicious but erratic, overstuffed menu with a surplus of entrees, sides, and appetizers. Heading into this competition, our money is on Mac's: Even with the large menu we haven't heard of many duds on the list and we've heard next to no complaints about prices.

Round 1: The Sides St. Clair Broiler serves all its sandwiches with the choice of french fries, tater tots, or coleslaw. While the fries and tater tots were pretty standard, the coleslaw was a pleasant surprise, with a strong vinegar that didn't overpower the creaminess. But starchy side options are key when it comes to enjoying a tuna melt, and the Broiler didn't quite measure up to Mac's, where one can choose from onion rings, tater tots, potato salad, mashed potatoes, and more. The tater tots and french fries at Mac's are crispier, better seasoned, and come in larger portions than those at the Broiler. Mac's wins on side options.  

Another view of the tuna melt from Mac's Industrial
Another view of the tuna melt from Mac's Industrial
Sean McPherson

Round 2: The Sandwich Both restaurants offer a superior tuna melt. St. Clair Broiler has the standard tuna melt locked down: Albacore tuna, American cheese (though Hot Dish will always take cheddar over American), and toasted whole wheat bread. Occasionally in the heart of the sandwich we could find a couple of dry spots that were primarily just tuna, but overall, this was a buttery, delicious throwback to one of our favorite childhood meals.

Although Mac's is not a revolutionary tuna melt, they did take every opportunity to step it up. The tuna salad is made from sashimi-grade ahi tuna, corn niblets, green peppers, and thin bits of onion tossed in mayonnaise. The cheddar cheese is expertly melted across the top and it's all encased in white bread that's been seasoned with Cajun spices. The melt becomes almost Jucy Lucy-like, as the tuna salad escapes each time the diner breaks into the bread. Mac's takes the sandwich hands down.

Round 3: Location If we want the tuna melt to become a more popular sandwich in the Twin Cities we need to let it travel beyond the confines of the classic diner. We need the St. Clair Broilers of the world to keep on serving classic melts next to malts and omelets, but it's time to send this sandwich out into the bars and restaurants of Minneapolis. We give the nod to Mac's for bringing quality tuna melts to this stretch of Northeast.

And the winner is. . . Mac's Industrial. While the St. Clair Broiler will always hold a place in our hearts as a classic tuna melt destination, it's time to pass the ahi-tuna searing torch to Mac's Industrial.

Got another tuna melt in mind? Share it in the comments section below.

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Mac's Industrial Sports Bar

312 Central Ave. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414


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