Editor’s Note: We are proud to have a professional food writer join the Hamblogger team along with her photojournalist husband. Scott Sommerdorf and his wife Lesli Neilson bring us today’s post from Salt Lake City. Before Scott met Lesli, he was the junk food king. She has since changed his eating habits and fine tuned his palate with her fabulous home cooked meals. They are a busy duo with jobs and kids that keep them running but always find time to enjoy a well made burger. To see more of Lesli’s writing check out the SLC Trib’s website www.sltrib.com/food
Lucky 13 Bar & Grill just celebrated its first birthday. Despite such a short pedigree, it’s managed to make quite a name for itself in such a short time. Maybe it’s the $1.50 drafts on Monday nights or the live music on Thursdays and Saturdays? The fact that it’s a couple hundred yards away from Spring Mobile Ballpark, home to the Minor League team, the Salt Lake Bees. Maybe. But, I’d be willing to bet what has most people streaming into Lucky 13 is its superb burgers.
It has some biker/dive bar elements, such as a stuffed boar’s head, vintage red tractor and outdoor flaming steel skulls (only flaming at night) or T-shirts for sale that say, “Lucky 13 SL, UT,” but all add to the bar’s persona. There are plasma TVs tuned into the sport du jour, pool tables and a few video games. But, the highlight of the place – besides the burgers — is the handcrafted wooden bar, accented by corrugated steel.
Co-owners Rob Dutton, Ron Lay and Jason Stucki have high standards for the quality ingredients they put into their burgers. After lots of research, the partners settled on fresh ground chuck with a ratio of 80 percent lean to 20 percent fat; each burger comes in just under a half-pound. The rosette buns are lightly toasted and mixed greens substitute for less reputable lettuces. The bacon is smoked in-house – daily. (I could eat that stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner.) And fluffy-on-the-inside- crispy-on-the-outside, thick-like-Wendy’s fries come with each burger. For diners who are die-hard garlic fans and don’t mind the bad breath that comes with it, upgrade to the addictive roasted garlic rosemary fries for $1.50 more.
The menu also has salads and sandwiches like a smoked bacon and blue cheese salad ($6.50) or loaded grilled cheese ($5.50) with tomato, onion and lettuce. But the real draw on the menu is the burgers.
There are 11 on Lucky 13’s list with clever names like the “celestial” burger ($9) with smoked bacon, grilled onions, cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce. I’m sure there’s very little that’s celestial about the aftermath of this burger, but the name is also a play on the state’s predominant religion’s three kingdoms of heaven – the telestial, terrestrial and celestial. Scott ordered this burger and, needing a little help to keep his plate tidy, our 3-year-old offered up his Spiderman action figure to save the day.
If you like your burgers with a kick, then there’s the “ring of fire” burger ($10) with smoked bacon, roasted jalapeños and habaneros, sautéed onions and cheddar cheese. The “ole man” has roasted jalapeños, grilled onions and swiss cheese ($8).
For those diners in the mood for a challenge, there’s the Big Benny burger ($15), which is 28 ounces of beef with bacon, ham, cheese, sautéed onions and Lucky 13 sauce, and the Lucky 13 burger ($15), a 14-ounce patty topped with Belizean habanero puree and roasted habaneros, which is all stuffed between two grilled cheese sandwiches along with sautéed onions, roasted jalapeños and roasted habaneros. The Lucky 13 “challenge” tempts you to finish the Big Benny and the Lucky 13 burger in one hour and they’ll be free of charge. Math isn’t my strong suit, but that’s over 2 1/2 pounds of meat and God only knows how many Scoville units those chiles ring in at. Though hundreds have attempted the challenge, no one has yet completed it. The bar has ponied up a $200 cash prize for the first person who does it. They’ll also get their name on the “wall of flame.”
I couldn’t resist not going with the stinky cheese, bacon cheeseburger ($8.50) – medium rare. And rosy pink is what I got: juicy on the inside with crispy edges with just a hint of char. The bacon adds the most ridiculously good smoky piggy notes while the blue cheese rounds out bite after bite. The cheese is pungent, but not like some of the overbearing blues can be, with just enough sweet to make this one of the best burgers I’ve eaten. At first glance, you think there’s no way you can finish a burger this size but, a half-hour later, you’ve managed to lick the plate clean.
RATING: 4.5 out of 5
Lucky 13 Bar & Grill
135 West 1300 South
Salt Lake City, Utah 84115
Hours: Monday – Saturday 11:00AM – 1:00AM
Sunday 10:00AM – 1:00AM
Over 21 only