The Nook is a relaxed pub that feels more like a restaurant than a drinking den. It’s a place to both eat and drink, with a bowling alley downstairs. The energy is fairly subdued on a weekend night. Given our experience here, the lack of buzz and hype is surprising. We enjoyed one of the best nights of bar food and brews we’ve ever known.
The current full name is Casper and Runyon’s Nook, but few bother to speak or type such a mouthful when telling friends where to meet for the best burgers in the Twin Cities. It is more regularly known simply as “The Nook.” The bar has been called The Nook in some form for the better part of a century, and the stuffed burger recipe goes back to a time long before the current owners.
Being in the Twin Cities, you’d expect a great juicy lucy on any bar menu, but the burger at The Nook blew us away, totally changing our estimation of the stuffed hamburger as form. The patty is so full of cheese that it coats every bite (and the basket that it’s served in). The burger itself is cooked to a perfect pink medium all the way around the cheese core — a combination of yellow and pink that reminds us of sunset. Known as the Juicy Nookie Burger, it is a blend from Angus beef. Pickles and raw onions are left on the side to be applied as necessary, but we didn’t want to mess with such a stunning burger.
Fresh-cut fries served alongside the burger are made exactly the way we want them: crisp, peel-on, and fried until the sugars in the potato turn brown. They are so good that we could hardly even sully them with ketchup, but we did use a few to scrape up some lost American cheese from our juicy lucy.
The Nook isn’t strictly a hamburger restaurant. The menu spans a range of bar classics. When we ask what else they are famous for, we are pointed to Buffalo wings. We hesitate to order wings this far west of New York. We shouldn’t have: they are an excellent interpretation. The Nook’s wings are fried till crisp and tossed in a spice-centric, low-butter, house-made hot sauce that reminds us of some of our favorite wing innovators out in Buffalo.
For an evening of beer, wings, and burgers, we can’t imagine any place that we’d rather indulge than The Nook. It is a place you could take a foreign tourist to show them that American bar food, when prepared properly, can be a world-class eating experience.