I have had Junior’s Grill on the infamous todo list for a long time, at least as far back as when we visited nearby Sambol but was reminded to give it a try by a reader who sent me an e-mail asking what I thought of Junior’s. I didn’t feel like cooking tonight so we drove over to Eagan to check this place out.
As we walked in I immediately noticed their great eleven seat counter with old style stools mixed with a more modern wide granite counter top. One of the stools is not an option as a small TV/VCR combo sits on the counter there to offer a background buzz and a temporary distraction for the cook as he fries onions rings and grills the meat. There are less than ten tables instead and another six outside and tonight at 6pm most of those inside were filled with no one braving the afternoon humidity and sun. The grill was crackling and the fan hoods were loudly sucking the grill’s smoke up and out. I liked the feel of the place and if this wasn’t located in a suburban Eagan strip mall I would have thought I was tucked away in some small town diner. Good work there!
When we sat down I grabbed menus from another empty table and we looked it over. Junior’s doesn’t seem to have any web presence at all so I couldn’t look at the menu ahead of time and can’t link you to it now. If you happen to have a link to them that my lame Googling skills couldn’t find please let me know below. A quick look showed that they offer 19 breakfast items listed between $4.49 and $9.99, 5 very large salads for $8.49 each, 5 burgers for $5.99 to $7.99, 11 sandwiches for $6.49 to $7.99, 6 Chicago Favorites (hot dog, polish sausage, roast beef, etc) for $2.99 to $8.99, 4 Steaks $6.99 (for chopped beef) to $15.99 (steak of the day) and 10 Blue Plate Specials between $6.99 and $7.99. I probably should have just taken photos but that would have been way too easy, eh? Anyway, Kim was in the mood for a burger which is why we ended up here in the first place so that’s exactly what she ordered… Junior’s All American Burger which is $5.99 and which the menu says is garnished with lettuce, tomato and red onion with the option to add cheese for $1.29. She went with the cheese option and ordered it with fries. Figuring this was a diner, I wanted an open face sandwich. The last item on the menu before you get to the sides, desserts, and drinks is the Hot Roast Beef which includes tender roast beef piled high on white bread and topped with red pepper gravy for $7.99. All dinner come with mashed potatoes/gravy and vegetable of the day. Did they save the best for last?
I was pretty hungry but I didn’t have to wait long to eat as our orders were up fast! Nothing fancy here. Kim’s burger was served in a plastic basket with paper and mine was a pile of meat loaded with gravy on a simple plate. Good stuff so far. I spent a few minutes taking photos and then let Kim dig in before I got around to mine.
Kim’s burger was so big I could barely fit it in my mouth and I know Kim was having problems herself. It was loaded with toppings and was cooked just about medium rare without Kim being asked how she wanted it done. While that’s fine for us you may want to specify if you like to ruin the flavor of your burgers by having them overcooked until they are shoe leather. Kim said, “this is an excellent burger…we will be back.” When I asked her if it was better than the burgers at the now defunct Bucky’s Diner, she was unsure but honestly, from the two bites I had I would have to say that this burger was indeed better all around. The fries, on the other hand, were completely over-seasoned with salt. You could literally see the crystals protruding like rock candy from the fries. Kim wasn’t sure but she believed she overheard the man at the table next us mention that his was salty as well.
While Kim’s burger was pretty damn good, my open faced, hot roast beef was on the low end of the scale. I won’t say it was terrible but it was definitely below par. The meat was overrun with fat and gristle and it honestly felt like I ate more of that than beef. The gravy was extremely salty and reminded me of something grandma would have made with the heavy salt shaker hand that seemed to prevail all those years ago — this is fucking 2008, people don’t eat salt like that anymore — ease up! The mashed potatoes were flavorless without the gravy and while they seemed homemade, I wasn’t at all impressed. The corn on the cob side was quite starchy and tasted frozen. While I finished it all, it won’t be a meal I will repeat ever again. I’m not quite sure what diner worth its salt (no pun intended) can have an open faced sandwich that’s so terrible. Yuck.
Kim also ordered a chocolate malt and when it came out it also came with the mixing cup 3/4 full. This was a big malt and it tasted great. I don’t normally care for ice cream in any form but this was an amazing milkshake for $3.89. I saw the pineapple upside down cake on the menu and thought it looked good but didn’t order it until Kim brought it up later that she wanted to try it. After we got the bill I asked for them to bring out a piece for me. At $3.99 the size of the piece was certainly worthy of the price as it was obnoxiously huge. I took bite after bite of the dessert and then asked Kim if she tasted any pineapple. We both decided that this was nothing more than yellow cake mix and a metric fuckton of brown sugar caramelized on top. While that’s great and all, it wasn’t what I was looking for and I left over 50% of it on the plate. When the waiter came back around to ask about it I said there wasn’t any pineapple in the cake and he asked if I wanted some extra pineapple now… Uhh, no, it belongs in the cake but thanks anyway.
The bill came to $24.71 before tip and wasn’t astronomical for what we ate tonight. The service was fine and Kim’s burger was excellent but aside from that, this place is a salt-induced heart attack waiting to happen. When we return I will stick to the burgers, sans fries, and avoid nearly everything else.
If you have eaten at Junior’s please share your comments below!
Junior’s Cafe and Grill
1340 Duckwood Dr #7
Eagan, MN 55123
See all the pictures from Junior’s Cafe and Grill on Flickr here.