Our annual guide: 4 cult burgers

These are the burgers for which people are willing to wait — sometimes as long as an hour or two. And these four places are worth the hype.

New or updated entries are marked with an asterisk.

If you have other suggestions, please email them to us at eat@pioneerpress.com.

Other categories from our 2023 guide:

Burgers for beer (and cocktail) hounds
‘Cheffy’ burgers
Cult burgers
Destination burgers
Dive bar burgers
Neighborhood burgers

1. * Private Sector Provisions

The guys behind this buzzy pop-up make a truly unbelievable burger. A big bad ball of beef, topped with raw onions, is smashed directly into the flat top and hit with seasoning, letting everything commingle as it cooks. (“I’m trying to be vulnerable with the beef,” co-owner Brett Splinter joked as he manned the grill. “You have to give it love!”) Two of those, each with its own slice of American cheese, go onto a soft toasted bun with delightfully dilly house pickles and sauce. For $10! An extra dollar for a bag of chips. Tell me where else you’re going to get a quality burger for that price, let alone one that’s as juicy and beefy and perfectly, dreamily savory as this. Impossible! This is what a burger is meant to be. My bun runneth over.

Private Sector Provisions: Currently a pop-up at Nova Bar in Hudson (236 Coulee Rd, Hudson), but follow them on Instagram @privatesectorprovisions for times/availability.

Private Sector Provisions’ double smash burger at their pop-up at Nova Bar in Hudson, Wisc., on Oct. 18, 2023. (Jared Kaufman / Pioneer Press)

2. Bebe Zito

Can a burger become a cult phenomenon in less than four years? In this case, yes. The folks behind this Uptown Minneapolis ice cream shop started slinging an inexpensive burger during the pandemic, and almost immediately, lines began to form. It was only available on weekends, which was part of its allure. But lucky for us, they now have a counter at The Market at Malcolm Yards and another at Eat Street Crossing, so we can all get our hands on this bacon-infused, thinly smashed, properly cheese-enrobed burger, which gets extra flavor from kicky pickled cukes and onions. It’s a cult burger for a reason, folks. The ice cream is amazing, too.

Bebe Zito: 704 22nd St. W., Minneapolis (Friday-Sunday only); The Market at Malcolm Yards, 501 30th Ave. S.E., Minneapolis; Eat Street Crossing, 2819 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis; bebezitomn.com

The Burger from Bebe Zito at The Market at Malcolm Yards. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

3. Casper and Runyon’s Nook and Shamrocks Irish Nook

The original Nook and its larger counterpart, Shamrocks, make what might be the best Juicy Lucy (called a Juicy Nookie) in town, but the burger that makes meat-lovers weep with joy is the Nookie Supreme. The burger is two giant patties of the restaurant’s proprietary Angus chuck, separated by a bun half and copious amounts of dripping American cheese. It’s topped with lettuce, onion and a tangy special sauce that ties the whole thing together. It’s a don’t-put-it-down burger, but good luck when beautifully browned fries are sitting there, likely covered with sauce and cheese drippings. Two patties are way too much for me, but a server recently revealed a valuable secret: Order a cheeseburger with lettuce and special sauce, and — presto! — a single version of the hour-wait-worthy burger.

Casper & Runyon’s Nook: 492 S. Hamline Ave., St. Paul; 651-698-4347; crnook.com
Shamrocks Irish Nook: 995 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-228-9925; crnook.com

Nookie Supreme burger.  (Chris Polydoroff / Pioneer Press archives)

4. Matt’s

The menu includes a completely unfancy Jucy (their spelling, not ours) Lucy on a completely unfancy bun in a divey neighborhood tavern. But the burger is very Minnesota, and everyone should eat it at least once. Plenty of famous people have visited, including President Barack Obama in 2014. The fries are fast-food quality but plentiful, and the well-worn griddle produces a tasty burger char.

Matt’s Bar: 3500 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis; 612-722-7072; mattsbar.com

After eating a Jucy Lucy burger, President Barack Obama leaves Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis on Thursday, June 26, 2014. (Ben Garvin / Pioneer Press)

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