Not So Lucky At Lucky’s 13 Pub

This past Friday evening was so beautiful that we raced home from work and found the idea of sipping beers on an outdoor patio irresistible.

According to the Inforum’s 2011 Best of the Red River Valley, readers voted Granite City as offering the best outdoor dining.  We headed towards Granite City for a quick beer and dinner (writing about chains is totally en vogue, didn’t you know?).   I noticed their online menu listed an Oriental Shrimp appetizer tossed in GC’s Signature Oriental Glaze.  Yet, they simultaneously offered a Grilled Asian Chicken Salad.  Granite City is straddling the 20th and 21st centuries, I suppose.  I became giddy about writing An Oriental Girl Orders Oriental Shrimp, a post I have been itching to write ever since I heard Applebee’s commercial for Oriental Chicken Salad. . . in 2011.  Next time, next time.

We took a detour and ended up at the new Lucky’s 13 Pub that opened sometime in the fall.  There are two Lucky’s 13 Pubs in the Twin Cities and I have not heard much feedback about these establishments.

Lucky’s 13 Pub
4301 17th Ave S.
Fargo, ND 58103

I recently ate a decent lunch at Lucky’s 13 with coworkers and felt optimistic.  We were seated on the nearly empty patio.  Despite the beautiful evening, we soon learned the patio was nearly vacant, because that space formed a wind tunnel.  After my menu slapped me in the face for the 6th time, we gave up and sat inside.

Our server took our drink orders and brought us a bowl of popcorn.  A fun gimmick I appreciate, as I am and have always been quite the popcorn fanatic.

This week, a friend posted that she survived her long workweek with Trader Joe’s ginger cookies, pickles, dark chocolate, vanilla lattes, and Cool Ranch Doritos.

I’ve resorted to cheap Mexican beer.

Lucky’s menu is heavy on burgers and sandwiches.  A smaller menu offered dinner specials in $13.99, $15.99, and $17.99 intervals in which diners pick two sides (with $1 up-charge for sweet potato fries and loaded tater tots).

We started by splitting an order of fried calamari.

The portion was generous and the calamari had a crunchy batter that wasn’t overly thick or greasy.  At first, I was wary of the large amount of sliced, raw, pepperocini that topped the fried calamari, but we ended up enjoying the combination.  The tart vinegariness of the peppers offset the fried food and the creamy dipping sauce was tasty as well.

Jake wanted to eat a lighter entree and opted for Cajun walleye fish tacos, $13.99. The special menu describing house-made, rotisserie chickens caught my eye so I ordered the 1/2 Caribbean version with the sweet potato fries and house vegetable which our server mentioned was asparagus.

The first thing I noticed about my plate was the massive size of the asparagus.

Asparagus is one of our favorite vegetables and we enjoy it at home, simply sear in a smoking hot pan or roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Lucky’s asparagus was steamed or boiled, and tasted slightly overcooked.  The asparagus was completely unseasoned, lacking salt, pepper, butter, or oil.  Lucky’s also neglected to remove the woody stems at the bottom.

Upon first biting into the rotisserie chicken, I noticed it was hard and crunchy.  I think someone deep fried my rotisserie chicken!

I have a weakness for fried foods, but felt caught off guard by the fact that it tasted like someone threw half a rotisserie chicken into the deep fryer.  Although some of the skin was crispy and delicious, much of the meat was dry or transformed into chicken jerky.  I enjoyed the remaining crispy skin that was chewable and bits of the interior dark meat that was still succulent and juicy.  The chicken also had a pleasant smokiness and tasted like it could have been brined.  But, I did not enjoy navigating around the dry white meat and deep fried chicken jerky.  Come on, folks.  Why?  Why would you deep fry half of a cooked, supposedly-fresh, rotisserie chicken to begin with, let alone, without any kind of batter or coating to preserve moistness.

Lucky’s 13 often mentions their wood-fired rotisserie.  I wonder if Lucky’s fried the rotisserie chicken to disguise previously cooked and chilled meat?  Otherwise, why would that be necessary?

The sauce was fine and tasted like a mix between barbecue sauce and jerk.  Not very spicy but not bad.

The sweet potato fries were fine, if under-salted.

Jake received his fish tacos, thus beginning an evening-long taco rant.

These tacos included deep fried pieces of walleye coated in a Cajun seasoning.  And by coated, I mean coated.  We both enjoy spicy food and strong flavorings, but the seasoning on the fish was overwhelming, making it impossible to taste the fish.  One bite made my eyes water.

Three fish tacos were accompanied by shredded ice burg lettuce, a lot of sliced black olives, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream, and stale tortilla chips.  All for $13.99.

I can not even express how disappointed Jake was with his fish tacos.  Jake is typically the good natured half, while I am the feisty ranter.  However, he could not stop talking about how much he disliked his meal.  “It was like nobody tasted the food,” he summarized.

He had been hoping for tacos filled with grilled or seared fish and light accompaniments like a cabbage slaw, creamy sauce, onions, or cilantro.  Most disappointing was the overly-seasoned, fried fish and garnishes that he felt did not compliment the fish.

While the calamari was decent, the entrees were overpriced and poorly cooked.  Woody, unseasoned asparagus, dried-out and crunchy rotisserie chicken, and over-seasoned fish tacos with unappealing garnishes.

My two experiences at Lucky’s 13 offered many “why would they do that?” moments, though Jake had no complaints about a previous lunch outing where he ordered a Buffalo shrimp po-boy.  Our dinner was less appealing than my previous lunch experience where I ate a tasty sandwich made with a pan-seared Cajun fish fillet.  On another “why would they do that?” note, my coworker had ordered a sandwich and received three sandwich halves.  Three.  Why would you place half of a sandwich on top of whole sandwich?  It wasn’t criminal but seemed very odd.

On a positive note, the service was friendly and on-point.

Our tally, including tax and tip, for two entrees, two beers, and calamari was $65.


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