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Restaurants & Bars

Casper's and Runyon's Nook -- St. Paul

Brad Ballinger | Aug 18, 200303:11 PM

Most people have a local burger joint/bar to which they are undyingly loyal. When I lived by Lake Nokomis, it was either the 5 and 8 Club or Matt’s Bar. When I moved across the Ford Bridge into St. Paul, my loyalty switched to b.b. dixon’s. When that closed as a result of a fire, I had to try Goby’s, Tiffany’s, and even Snuffy’s until Groveland Tap emerged from b.b. dixon’s ashes. When a recent issue of Mpls/St. Paul magazine came out featuring best burgers in the Twin Cities, I noticed one I hadn’t been to yet that was pretty close to where I live – Casper’s and Runyon’s Nook, f/k/a Mickey’s Nook, f/k/a as The Nook. If I recall correctly, Casper’s and Runyon’s was listed second in Mpls/St. Paul, and was also pariased for its fresh-cut fries and it’s version of the Juicy Lucy. So we grabbed our neighbors (also Groveland Tap devotees) and checked it out.

This was on a day when the temperature reached 90 degrees. The air conditioner inside The Nook was humming valiantly, but needed to be taken to the big junkyard in the sky. It was brutally stifling inside. At least there was a breeze outside. We toughed it out anyway using some beers to help us cope.

The place is quite small, and we had to wait about five minutes for a table (one of about 6) to open up. Three of us ordered the Juicy Lucy (think we are connoisseurs and would know if this one truly deserved its praise or not). After a 30 minute wait, the food arrived.

The french fries were greasy and soft. I was really expecting a crispiness to them given their brown color, but they, too, had surrendered to the humid conditions inside. The burger was also a disappointment. One of our party took a bite immediately (always a mistake). He didn’t burn the inside of his mouth, but he succeeded in squirting all the cheese out the other side of the burger and into his basket. I decided to let mine sit for a while. I finished all my fries (they weren’t going to be more appetizing sitting there any longer) before picking up my Juicy. Even though the burger had sat for ten minutes, I had the same results as my neighbor – one bite, and all the cheese was gone.

Whoever visited Casper’s and Runyon’s from Mpls/St. Paul must’ve had a far better experience, received special treatment, or been on drugs. I’ll be sticking to Groveland Tap, where the Cajun Juicy reigns supreme. And I’ll never be disloyal again.

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