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Sesame chopped cheese burger at Wrestaurant

Most Monday nights are for staying home and getting to bed early, just as the unwritten code within St. Paul city limits dictates. But sometimes I go wild and venture out, and on those occasions I need a spot to grab a bite to eat past 8 p.m. (I know, lunacy, right?) Luckily, there's a new restaurant (or Wrestaurant) in town that keeps the kitchen open until at least 10 p.m. every night of the week.

Inside Wrestaurant at the Palace, the new collaboration between the teams behind Wrecktangle pizza and First Avenue, the dining room and bar serve a menu of beverage-friendly dishes well into the evening (plus there's a walk-up window to get pizza slices to go). That includes a beguiling new burger ($15) that's the best of all worlds, at least according to chef/owner Jeff Rogers. It's like a chopped cheese and a Big Mac had a baby, and the whole thing is served across four petite Hawaiian bread rolls for easy splitting (but no one says that's required) — and with curly fries.

"I love the sesame seeds on a bun," Rogers declared — a statement I'd never heard before. Who even thinks about the seeds? At Wrestaurant, a tender, loosely formed patty is coated in the toasty little buggers, giving each beefy bite a distinctive nuttiness. Mixed with a swoon-worthy special sauce, oozy cheese and ribbons of crunchy lettuce, it's a dish that makes staying up late worthwhile. (Although it is available for lunch, as well.) (Joy Summers)

33 W. 7th Place, St. Paul, 952-600-5611,

Burger Dive celebrates Oktoberfest with its burger of the month.
Burger Dive celebrates Oktoberfest with its burger of the month.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

Oktoberfest Burger at Burger Dive

When it comes to a straight-up cheeseburger, Burger Dive's house smashburger is pretty much the ideal, in my opinion. I usually wouldn't dream of getting anything else, but then I saw a video of this monster of a burger being assembled, and something clicked.

The Oktoberfest ($17), which is available only this month, is a tower of two smashed patties dripping with cheddar, then topped with pork-studded sauerkraut and grilled onions. Top all of that with a Scotch egg — a perfectly runny yolk surrounded by housemade bratwurst, breaded and deep-fried. A spectacularly squishy pretzel bun is swiped with dijonnaise to bring it all together. It's a lot, but was perfect to share with a friend who was as up for an over-the-top burger as I was. And you have to hand it to Burger Dive: Beneath all of those flavor punches, you can still taste those expertly griddled, meaty patties.

The burger of the month is available at all three Burger Dive locations, including my personal pick, the 1029 Bar. It takes a while to get your order, thanks to the complexities of its making — Scotch eggs can't be easy — so settle in with a stein of something and get in the Oktoberfest spirit. (Sharyn Jackson)

731 Randolph Av., St. Paul, 651-294-3240; Potluck at Rosedale Center, 1595 Hwy. 36, 651-340-2389,; 1029 NE. Marshall St., Mpls., 612-379-4322,

Brazin Public House in Eden Prairie serves up a great slate of burgers, including the Black & Bluejack.
Brazin Public House in Eden Prairie serves up a great slate of burgers, including the Black & Bluejack.

Nicole Hvidsten, Star Tribune

The Black & Bluejack at Brazin Public House

Pet peeve: When you order a black and blue burger and can hardly taste either the blue cheese or the black pepper. Granted, the assertiveness of blue cheese isn't for everyone, but if I'm ordering a dish that highlights it, it's safe to assume that I'm committed to the taste. Ditto black pepper.

So I was pleasantly surprised when the Black & Bluejack Burger at this Eden Prairie newcomer not only embraced blue cheese, but double-downed on it. Two quarter-pound smash patties are intensely flavored with cracked pepper before being topped with marbled bluejack cheese — possibly my new favorite cheese. Add to that caramelized onions, a blue cheese mousse, spring greens and a sturdy top-notch bun and it's a burger worthy of a trip to the suburbs, no matter where you live. (The Mushrooms Etc. burger, topped with melty Brie and mushrooms sautéed with thyme and rosemary, was a close second.) The Black & Bluejack ($15) is also available in a single patty ($12), chicken ($14) and Beyond Meat ($16). It comes with housemade chips, but fries or sweet potato fries are available for a $3 upgrade.

Brazin Public House is the work of chef/owner Kevin Champlin, who has a long and varied culinary resume, from restaurants to corporate cafeterias. We thought the name reflected some of the out-there flavors and the chutzpah it takes to open a restaurant. It does, but it also incorporates his name with his sons', Braden and Zach. Either way, it works. (Nicole Hvidsten)

6399 City West Pkwy., Eden Prairie, 952-600-5192,

Juche serves up a burger with touches of Korean flavors.
Juche serves up a burger with touches of Korean flavors.

Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune

Bulgogi Burger at Juche

It took me too long to make it to Juche, a snug lounge on St. Paul's East Side that opened late last year with a menu steeped in comforting, Korean-inspired snacks. Now that I finally tried a few unforgettable dishes, I can't wait to go back. There's a creamy dream of mac and cheese spiked with kimchi, shatteringly crisp fried wings with sweet ginger, and squirt bottles of gochujang that make you wonder why we ever bothered with ketchup.

And a cheeseburger. In this case, it's the bulgogi burger ($11), designed by chef/co-owner Chris Her.

This is no smashie. It's a thick, 5-ounce beef patty with a Korean touch: the same marinade that's used to sweeten and caramelize thin-cut beef tenderloin for the Korean BBQ dish bulgogi. The medium-rare patty is coated in the sweet soy glaze, and more gets added while it cooks to give it a little crust from the griddle. Her adds caramelized onions, garlic mayo, a slice of yellow American cheese, and serves it on a brioche bun. You can add a second patty for $4 if you're really hungry.

Fries or chips are a $3 upcharge, but don't get them. Instead, order the mapo fries ($13) as a side. You get a huge portion of crisp fries topped with cheese and a delectable mapo sauce with ground beef and szechuan pepper for a tingly take on loaded fries. (Sharyn Jackson)

1124 Payne Av., St. Paul, 612-490-3380,

The double smashburger at Fool Me Once
The double smashburger at Fool Me Once

Renée Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

Double Smashburger at Fool Me Once

Another smashburger for the ages, the one at the new Lyn-Lake "cosmic cantina" Fool Me Once goes Oklahoma-style with its double ($16, includes fries), pressing the patties on the griddle over a pile of onions that caramelize to oblivion. They add Thousand Island-y "FMO sauce" and "cold pickles" — I love that the menu emphasizes that they're cold. A thick slice of bacon crowns it, as if you needed more meat — but somehow you do. (Unless you're vegan or vegetarian, in which case you should go for the housemade black bean burger with avocado salsa, $15.)

This quirky bar, with its neon-lit cowboy-in-space motifs, goes hard at over-the-top bar food on all fronts. The usuals, such as wings, tacos and today's trend-food, the Crunchwrap, are all done well. But for something different, try blistered shishito peppers in tequila, Hamm's-battered fried mushrooms, or even a deep-fried Twinkie served sliced like a sushi roll. Basically, go wherever your cowboy heart takes you. Just make sure your journey includes that burger. (Sharyn Jackson)

3006 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-503-9350,