There's an argument to be made that Minneapolis' North Loop neighborhood was ground zero for the city's modern era of smash burgers. In 2013, inside the Borough/Parlour kitchen, cooks were grinding a proprietary blend of meat and smashing the heartily seasoned beef patty on a sizzling hot griddle. A new era of burger fandom was born, and we've been reaping the juicy rewards ever since.
Now it's not enough just to put a burger on the menu — the standards and expectations have been raised.
When we noticed that three new restaurants opened in the area in the past few months, and all are serving stacks of beefy love, we had to check it out. Each comes with its own personality and flair; all are built to lure fans of skinny patty-styled burgers.
Grab a clutch of paper napkins and get ready to dig in: These three new crisp and juicy smash burgers are ready for their moment of glory.
Bricksworth Beer Co.
This Burnsville-based brewpub has recently expanded into the North Loop inside the former Darby's location. The menu is filled with beer-friendly foods like deep-dish pizza, several varieties of fries, Cool Ranch Dorito-dusted wings and a double-decker smash burger.
It's two thin patties, each layered with a slice of American cheese, "happy meal" sauce, shredded lettuce and housemade pickles on a brioche bun. The burger comes a la carte, but a side of scratch-made crispy fries can be added to round out the meal.
Cost: $15; optional fries start at $2.
The lowdown: Like a Big Mac, but all grown up.
Find it: 305 5th Av. N., Suite 105, Mpls., 612-886-1848, bricksworthbeer.co
Two Mixed Up
Two Mixed Up began as two families who lived across the street from one another and loved to cook — one savory, led by chef E.J. Williams; and one sweet, led by chef Sophie Estevez. They joined business forces first as a food truck of the same name and now a stand inside Graze Provisions + Libations in the North Loop. On the menu are a sweet/hot fried chicken sandwich, decadent baked goods like an alluring banana pudding and more. There are several burger options, but start with the Just a Burger.
Two patties are pressed into a hot griddle until the fat crisps up, forming lacy dark edges around the meat. They're then piled together with tangy TMU sauce that takes a flavor cue from In-N-Out Burger, oozy white cheese, crunchy lettuce and thinly sliced raw onion.
Cost: $15 with optional $2 upgrade for fries or onion rings.
The lowdown: A master class in underselling and overdelivering: This is anything but "just" another smash burger.
Find it: 520 N. 4th St., Mpls., twomixedup.com
Chef Duran Ross was the sous chef for the Minnesota Twins for 12 years before launching his own food business. Ottimo is now open inside the North Loop Galley collective of food stands. As the Italian name suggests, there are meatballs in his signature tomato sauce on the menu as well as rigatoni and a chicken pesto sandwich. But Ross doesn't constrain himself to only Italian dishes, which is what led us to his Classic Smash. This is a saucy number, with a good amount of mayonnaise-based Ran sauce mingling with a slice of American cheese, both enveloping the caramelized onions on top. It's all served on a plush potato bun.
Cost: $12, comes with a side of puffy fries.
The lowdown: A sumptuous, smooshy burger for those who appreciate mayo sauce superiority over the more plebeian ketchup or mustard.
Find it: 729 Washington Av. N., Mpls., northloopgalley.com