Since this week marks the anniversary of J and I’s first trip to the Nook three years ago, I figured the Nook makes for an excellent Tasty Thursday post. We saw it on a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives marathon and figured we should check it out the next day. That might not have been our best strategy — going at about 5 PM on Saturday night the day after it was highlighted on TV.
The place was packed out. And we had the age old dilemma: stick around and wait or look for dinner elsewhere.
We waited. It was worth the wait. Every. Single. Minute.
And it’s now our second favorite restaurant (right behind Bread & Chocolate) to introduce to friends, family and out-of-town visitors.
Other folks talk about Matt’s Bar & Grill or the 5-8 Club, but if you only get to eat one cheese-stuffed burger, I recommend heading straight for the Nook over on Hamline Ave in St Paul. Now, if you’re into sampling burgers around town (and I applaud that attitude), don’t forget to stop by the other places and check them out for comparison’s sake.
I always get the Juicy Nookie — stuffed with regular orange cheese, and J always gets the Paul Molitor — stuffed with pepper jack. Both of us opt for the fried onions instead of raw. I skip the pickles. Dill pickles are gross. J disagrees.
We have excited glee as the burgers get plunked down before us. Oh my goodness. The cheese oozes. The burger is juicy. And the bun, fresh from the bakery down the street, is a perfect sponge for the gooey messiness of this burger.
Warning for those afraid of pink beef: the stuffed burgers might not be your thing as they only come in medium. On the bright side, the Nook offers a big selection of non-cheese stuffed burgers. I don’t know why you’d want anything else, but you’ve got options.
Also, their fries are fantastic — fresh cut, skin on deliciousness. For me, fries are a big deal in determining whether a burger place is good or not. The burger could blow my mind. But, if the fries are mediocre, it’s not a great burger place in my eyes. I tend to care more about the fries than the burger itself. I like potatoes. A lot. And the Nook has seriously GOOD fries in addition to the best juicy lucy (excuse me, juicy nookie) in town.
The Nook has two seating areas. Dining upstairs is a normal experience — bar and your standard burger joint decor. But, you haven’t really been to the Nook until you’ve been downstairs and eaten next to the bowling alley. Yes, that’s right. The bowling alley. And I’m not spoiling anymore of the downstairs experience. Go, and check it for yourselves.
Neither dining area is very big. They’re narrow and tight. If you’re looking for a place to take a group bigger than 4-5 people, the Nook may not be your best choice. You may be waiting a long time.
Unless you have patience and determination to wait for a table, I recommend finding off peak times to eat. It’s worth the wait or the planning. However, you should know what you’re in for before you go, lest you walk away disappointed because your hunger made you unable to wait.