Best of the Red River Valley 2020
Longtime Favorite JL Beers once Again Walks Away with “Best Burger”
Written by: Forum Staff of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on November 28th, 2020
How does it feel to win? What’s your reaction to winning?
“We are extremely humbled to win this award for the past 11 years,” says president and co-owner Lance Thorson, “ We’d like to thank our incredible customers that have continued to support us since we opened!”
What do you provide that people may not know about? What’s unusual on your menu?
“We’re known for our burgers and extensive selection of craft beer, but we also offer chicken sandwiches that are made with fresh beer-brined chicken,” he says.
What do you love most about this community? How does your business support this community?
“Our community cares about each other and supports one another,” he says. “When times are tough like when COVID-19 restrictions first began and we could only offer takeout we experienced incredible support from the community with all of the orders.”
Best of the Red River Valley 2019
Best Burger Written by: Tracy Briggs of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on November 30th, 2019 “It’s an amazing honor to win this award for the 10th straight year! Wow, thank you all for your support! We have really big smiles on our faces right now,” JL Beers co-owner and President Lance Thorson said. Thorson said his job is fun and rewarding because of the people he gets to work with and the customers they all get to meet. “Our focus is on consistently providing great quality food, craft beer, and customer service to all our guests, whether it’s their first time in JL Beers or their 100th time,” he said. He said the “Not Just a Nutter Burger” made with their fresh-ground peanut butter and topped with red pepper jelly, diced jalapenos, pepperjack cheese and cottage bacon, is a favorite for many guests. He said they also recently started serving breakfast sandwiches. “I enjoy the challenge of developing new ideas, equipment, technology and products to make the JL Beers experience even better. It’s definitely rewarding to be recognized with awards like this, but it’s always rewarding to be able to give back to the community and make an impact as well,” he said. Best Beer Selection Written by: Melissa Davidson of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on November 30th, 2019 What goes perfect with the area’s best burgers? The area’s best beers. JL Beers caters to all beer lovers’ palettes with a wide selection of local, international, specialty and blended brews, from hoppy pale ales, ciders and funky sours to porters, stouts and blends. Many varieties are great on their own, but also pair well with the restaurant’s iconic 13 mouth-watering burgers. While its beer menu can change based on season and location, you’ll often have more than 30 beers on tap to choose from, including JL Beers’ own Berlinger Weisse, an easy-drinking, kettle-soured ale. The restaurant also has a diverse menu of bottled and canned varieties. Visitors can get a taste of one of the 16 brews from around the world or sip on one of its eight mixed beers such as the St. Andrea’s Fault, a blend of oatmeal stout, vanilla porter and 1919 root beer. You can also sample a range of brews with one of JL Beers’ flights or take a favorite on-tap variety home in one of their 32-ounce crowlers. In addition to its awesome beers and brews served every day, JL Beers also holds many events throughout the year, including ugly Christmas sweater parties, Ales for ALS and many “tap takeovers,” which are a collection of beers from other breweries. Locations: Fargo, West Fargo, Moorhead, Grand Forks with additional locations in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota
The Best Burgers in Fargo-Moorhead, According to Locals
Written by: Danni of the Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitors Bureau on June 16th, 2019 Photo credit: @prairiestylefile We polled locals on Facebook and asked them where to find the best burgers in Fargo. The response was huge. Apparently, people love their burgers. Below we compiled the ones that received the most love, in order: 1. Humpty Dumpty Burger at JL Beers This burger was overwhelmingly the top choice among locals. Basically, it’s a freshly pattied burger with a fried egg and cheese on top… on one of the best buns in the league. JL Beers is a local chain with four locations in the area. They’re constantly voted as the Best of the Red River Valley and HPR’s Best of the Best as the best burger and fries in town. Each location has cozy (small) seating area indoors with a long bar serving up regional beers. OTHER HONORABLE MENTIONS AT JL BEERS The 13th Avenue Burger (also called the 1st Ave Burger, 32nd Ave Burger, etc.), the Not Just a Nutter Burger, and the Totally Slawesome Burger. www.fargomoorhead.org
Best of the Red River Valley 2018
Best Burger & Best Fries Written by: Lis Beam of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on November 25th, 2018 What makes JL Beers burgers the best? “I really think it’s the time and effort that we put into our food,” said General Manager Caitlin Hedberg. “It’s all freshly made and we really try and take our time to prepare everything with as much flavor as possible.” What’s new for JL Beers or coming up? “Our downtown location is now serving breakfast, which is going really well. We’ve got some super tasty sandwiches on the breakfast menu that are definitely worth trying out,” Hedberg recommended. “If breakfast stays popular at the downtown location over time, we’ll try bringing it to all of our stores.” What’s a great burger and beer pair to try? “My favorite is the Ragin Cajun burger with our Bell’s Two Hearted Ale,” Hedberg said. How does it feel to keep winning best fries? “It obviously feels awesome,” said General Manager Caitlin Hedberg, “and is just super encouraging to know that we have the support of our customers behind us.” What’s the best thing to put on or drink with your fries? “We’ve got a ton of different seasonings that you can choose from, but my personal favorite is the Cajun seasoning,” Hedberg said. “My favorite IPA to drink with fries — or anything really — is the Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.” Why are JL Beer customers the best? “Our customers are always in such a good mood and really create the positive, fun atmosphere that we try and go for here. We always want to have a good time and make sure everyone is in a good mood,” Hedberg said.
HPR’s Best of the Best 2018
May 23rd, 2018 JL Beers Awarded – Best Burger!
Best of the Red River Valley 2017
Best Burger & Best Fries Written by: Kris Kerzman of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on November 24th, 2017 What do you do that makes you stand out from other restaurants? “Our open kitchen behind the bar allows guests to see how their food is prepared and also the cleanliness of our kitchen,” said Lance Thorson, a co-owner of JL Beers. What does it take to consistently make good burgers? “It takes great people that genuinely care about each and every burger that is made,” Thorson said. Besides your burgers, what should people try on your menu? “We are best known for our burgers, but we also offer terrific beer-brined chicken sandwiches as well,” Thorson said. “Our name is JL Beers, so make sure to check out our extensive beer selection too.” What makes for a good french fry? “We source all of our own potatoes, cut them fresh to order, and cook them in cholesterol free soybean oil,” said JL Beers co-owner Lance Thorson. “Once cooked, they are a beautiful white french fry packed with flavor.” What sets you apart from your competitors? “We have a lot of our own proprietary products and ingredients that you simply can’t get anywhere else,” Thorson said. “All of our hamburgers and French Fries are fresh and made to order.” Besides ketchup, what should people try on their fries? “First off, we have a wide assortment of seasonings that can be added for no additional cost — sea salt, Cajun, jalapeno cheddar, BBQ or parmesan garlic,” Thorson said. “Secondly, we make all of our own dips including ‘R’ Dip, cajun lime, ranch, BBQ ranch, chipotle, jalapeno ranch, and most notably our famous beer cheese dip. With all of these seasonings and dips, our guests have numerous options to take their taste buds on a little trip.”
HPR’s Best of the Best 2017
July 17th, 2017 JL Beers Awarded – Best Burger & Best Restaurant Service!
Fargo Monthly’s Flavor Awards 2017
Written by: Erica Rapp of Fargo Monthly. May 2017 Best Burger – Humpty Dumpty® Back-to-Back Winner! The Humpty Dumpty burger has been a staple menu item at JL Beers since day one, and has created somewhat of a legacy for itself when it comes to local burger lovers. With just a fried egg and cheese stacked amidst perfect buns and a patty, this burger proves that less really can be more when it comes to great flavor. You can also add bacon or even substitute the beef for a black bean, wild rice and quinoa patty if you’re not a meat-eater. www.fargomonthly.com
Best of the Red River Valley 2016
Best Burger & Best Fries Written by: Tracy Briggs of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on October 29th, 2016 What is your reaction to your follow-up win? “We try to put out the best burgers and beer everyday and we’re just glad people seem to appreciate what we do,” said Brandon Nilson, general manager of JL Beers in downtown Fargo. What makes your burgers different? “We use the best possible ingredients because we know that’s how you get the best products,” Nilson said. “There isn’t a bad burger on the menu.” What’s your favorite burger? “I’d have to say the Humpty Dumpty burger. It’s just a burger with a fried egg and American cheese on it. That’s it. But it’s really good,” he said. What makes your fries different? “They’re ours,” Nilson said. “We don’t pre-cut our fries and chips. We cut them after you order them. You can’t get more fresh than that!” What would you say to someone who has never been to JL Beers? “We’re in our seventh year in Fargo-Moorhead,” Nilson said. “I’d invite them to come out and try it.”
Fargo Monthly’s Flavor Awards 2016
Written by: Erica Rapp of Fargo Monthly. June 2016 Photography by: Paul Flessland Best Burger – Humpty Dumpty® As the winner of many burger awards, including some of our own, the Humpty Dumpty burger has been a staple menu item at JL Beers since day one. With just a fried egg and American cheese amidst a perfect bun and patty, this burger proves that less can really be more when it comes to great flavor. You can also add bacon or substitute the beef for a black bean, wild rice and quinoa patty as your heart desires. www.fargomonthly.com
HPR’s Best of the Best 2016
June 5th, 2016 JL Beers Awarded – Best Burger & Best Craft Beer Selection!
Best of the Red River Valley 2015
Best Burger & Best Fries Written by: John Lamb of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on October 31st, 2015 What’s the appeal of the JL burgers? “Honestly, it’s the simplicity. We don’t over¬complicate it. It’s straight¬forward. Because we keep our menu simple, we keep our products fresh,” says Lane Johnson, assistant manager at the downtown Fargo location. What about the fries? “It’s a fun thing to watch, people trying to see how that works. They see that pressurized fry¬cutter and every time they hear that noise they look over and say, ‘Oh cool. That’s how they do it.’ It’s kind of entertaining to them. It gives them a show. They can see everything that’s being made for them. There’s no curtain.” How many potatoes do you go through in a day? “It depends on the day, but we can go through 250 pounds.”
HPR’s Best Bets 2015
May 28th, 2015 JL Beers Awarded – Best Burger, Best Craft Beer Selection, and Best Lunch! www.hpr1.com
2014 Best of the Red River Valley
Best Burger, Best Fries, and Best Beer Selection Written by: Dave Olson of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on November 22nd, 2014 Locations: 518 1st Ave. N., Fargo, (701) 492-3377; 4240 32nd Ave. S. Fargo, (701) 356-4240; 2902 Highway 10 E., Moorhead, (218) 422-4400; 810 13th Ave. E., West Fargo, (701) 373-8484 Reaction to winning: “We’re excited to be recognized again. We’ve won those same awards the last couple of years, and it really means a lot to us for our customers to vote and show their appreciation continually in those categories,” said Lance Thorson, co-founder of JL Beers. Secret to your success: “I think just having a love for what we do and having a true passion for craft beer. As far as the food portion of it, we don’t have a huge menu, so items we do have – hamburgers, fresh-cut fries and chips – we try to do the best we can to maintain a quality and a value people enjoy.” Something people don’t know about your business: “We are continuing to expand. We have a franchise in Minot that will be opening in February, and we’re looking at another location in Sioux Falls, S.D.”
Best Burgers in Fargo
Written by: Andrew Jason of Fargo Monthly on June 12th, 2014. Photography by: J. Alan Paul Photography Of all the food groups, burgers might be our favorite. What other food says summer like a juicy, thick and succulent burger topped with unique toppings. We took a poll to find out your favorite burger in town. Welcome to Fargo Monthly’s first annual best burger competition. Humpty Dumpty from JL Beers Shocking, right? Was there even a debate about what the best burger in town was? The Humpty Dumpty burger is the consensus favorite in Fargo, and for good reason. Not only has JL Beers become a staple burger spot in Fargo, their beef is always memorable and they are always rolling in new beer on tap. Any burger on the JL menu is a winner, but there’s only one that can make you second guess your decision to order anything else. The simplicity of the ingredients makes the Humpty Dumpty burger extremely appealing for any hungry Fargoan. The flexibility that comes with a quarter pound burger patty, one egg and cheese is endless. Bacon is a popular choice among patrons looking to spice up their Humpty Dumpty experience. Add a shot of Sriracha if you dare to walk the line of deliciousness and mediocrity. Ultimately, like any great burger, it comes down to the burger patty. The quarter pound greatness that comes off the JL grill is juicy and enticing enough to have anyone salivating. www.fargomonthly.com
HPR’s Best Bets 2014
May 1st, 2014 JL Beers Awarded – Best Burger, Best Craft Beer Selection, and Best Lunch! JL Beers went home from HPR’s awards event with a triple win, so it must be doing something right. Clearly the extremely fresh and tasty burger selection, fresh-cut fries and variety of dipping sauces have something to do with it. www.hpr1.com
2013 Best of the Red River Valley
Best Burger, Best Fries, and Best Beer Selection Written by: Wendy Reuer of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on November 16th, 2013 Locations: 518 1st Ave. N., Fargo, (701) 492-3377; 2902 Highway 10 E., Moorhead, (218) 422-4400; 810 13th Ave. E., West Fargo, (701) 373-8484 Reaction to winning: “It’s always exciting to be recognized and honored as the local fans’ favorite in the community,” said Lance Thorson, part-owner of JL Beers. “We greatly appreciate that.” Secret to your success: “We just love what we do and we’re passionate about craft beer, our burgers and our products,” Thorson said. Something people don’t know about your business: JL Beers places a priority on using locally produced products as a way to give back. “Our potato products are all North Dakota potatoes, so they’re all grown locally,” he said.
JL Beers Says: ‘Tap That App’
Written by: Angie Wieck of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on December 7th, 2012 Photography by: David Samson JL Beers is encouraging their customers to “Tap that App!” The bar and restaurant has launched a free mobile app to help customers keep up with JL Beers’ ever-changing selection of tap beers, read, write and share beer reviews, and keep a diary of personal consumption and tasting notes. Co-owner Lance Thorson came up with the idea based on existing beer review websites. He wanted to create a site that concentrated on the beers they serve locally. Because JL Beers brings in several beers every week, it doesn’t print new menus each time a new product is introduced. “This (the app) is the quickest and most informative way for us to get what we have on tap into the hands of our customers,” Thorson said. MacDalton Berns and the team at Absolute Marketing in Moorhead made Thorson’s vision a reality. They designed an app that also allows customers to search beer offerings by state or country of origin, by style of beer and by customer ratings. Berns said the original app was quietly debuted months ago. After making a few enhancements based on customer feedback, a second version was recently launched. The app has now been downloaded more than 1,000 times. The app is an extension of JL Beers’ social media strategy, Thorson said. When customers post a comment through the app, they will be able to post that information to their Facebook page. Friends who see the post may continue a conversation about the beverage through Facebook. “It kind of creates a beer culture and camaraderie,” Thorson said. “It’s just kind of a fun thing for our guests to experience and share with one another.” To download the app, visit jlbeers.com/apps or search for JL Beers in Google Play or the Apple app store. JL Beers has locations in Fargo, West Fargo, Moorhead, Grand Forks, Bismarck and Sioux Falls, S.D. www.inforum.com
HPR’s Best Bets 2012
November 16th, 2012 JL Beers Awarded – Best Burger, Best Craft Beer Selection, and Best Lunch! Locals are extremely vocal about their love of JL Beers. My goodness, this burger and beer joint has it figured out. Since opening, the place can hardly keep customers away. For one, JL Beers has a feel-good atmosphere, its menu is simple, its food is full-flavored and its beers selection is far from wimpy.
2012 Best of the Red River Valley
Best Burger and Best Beer Selection Written by: Tracy Frank of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on October 26th, 2012 Locations: Three locations in the FM area: 518 1st Ave. N., Fargo, (701) 492-3377; 2902 Highway 10 E., Moorhead, (218) 422-4400; 810 13th Ave. E., West Fargo, (701) 373-8484 History: JL Beers also won best burger last year. This is the third year in a row the business has won best beer selection. Reaction to winning: “Woo hoo! We’re always excited to be recognized by our local customer base,” said Lance Thorson, JL Beers part-owner and director of construction development. “We strive to have the best burgers and the best beer selection in the area, so we’re thankful for the recognition.” Reason for success:“We enjoy what we do, and we make it fun,” Thorson said. “We have a somewhat simple menu with the burgers and fresh-cut chips and fries, but we just strive to be the best at what we offer and offer good-quality products at a reasonable price.”
AdvoEats: JL Beers vs. Smashburger vs. Five Guys
Written by Matt Lech, Meghan Feir, Tyler Sorensen of MSUM’s The Advocate on November 17th, 2011 Photography by Jessica Fleming 1st Place: JL Beers Matt Lech: “JL’s success is well-deserved, with its trendy atmosphere, excellent burgers and excellent selection of beers. The inevitable wait is always worth it.” Meghan Feir: “They were accommodating, kind and gave me quick service. I only had to wait a few minutes to be seated, and after I ordered, it only took six minutes to receive my burger and fries. That’s what I call quality. The only thing I would change is the issue of water. You can get a bottled water, but free water is not offered. Their root beer is delicious, but slightly expensive at $4 a pop.” Tyler Sorensen: “While JL is rightfully known for its wide selection of beer — it’s in the name, after all — for me, their burgers deserve just as much praise. I’ve never had a subpar dining experience. Even during their busiest hours, the wait staff are consistently polite and responsive. One never has to wait too long for their order. The atmosphere inside and outside is pleasant as well. A burger at J.L. Beers should be a rite of passage for everyone waiting to turn 21. It’s hands-down the best local restaurant franchise.” www.msumadvocate.com
Moorhead JL Beers Opens Today
MOORHEAD – With today’s opening of a Moorhead JL Beers, the beer and burger joint now boasts four locations in the region, including the original in downtown Fargo and one store each in West Fargo and Grand Forks. Written by Dave Olson of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on November 15th, 2011 MOORHEAD – With today’s opening of a Moorhead JL Beers, the beer and burger joint now boasts four locations in the region, including the original in downtown Fargo and one store each in West Fargo and Grand Forks. As with earlier iterations, an effort was made to replicate hallmarks – and to some extent the limited seating capacity – of the first JL Beers, which opened in 2009 with the promise it could seat 1,000 people, 24 at a time. While the Moorhead site can accommodate 47 visitors, it otherwise mimics the look of the original JL Beers. It has tin ceiling tiles and interior brick walls made to look decades older than they are. “We want to keep that feel when we open new buildings,” said Lance Thorson, who owns the business along with his father, Randy Thorson, his brother, Shawn Thorson, and Fargo businessman Warren Ackley. The Moorhead JL Beers is built on the site of a former Pizza Hut that was demolished to make room for it. As construction neared completion, doors stayed locked because of the number of people stopping in to check out the place, said Thorson, who added that, as far as advertising goes, the business relies on word of mouth and social-networking websites. “It’s pretty amazing,” Thorson said on a recent morning as workers prepped the Moorhead site. “We haven’t even opened our doors here yet, and we have almost 1,000 fans on Facebook,” he said. With the “JL” paying homage to deceased longtime downtown Fargo bar owner Jim Lauerman, JL Beers spends a lot of time researching the beer part of their name. “We work with distributors and breweries to bring a lot of specialty brews and one-offs,” Thorson said. The menu at the Moorhead store is the same as at other JL Beers, and all have added two new selections: a Philly cheese burger and a slaw burger, the latter made with cole slaw and barbecue sauce. About 50 people were hired to staff the new restaurant, which is only open to those 21 and older. “A lot of (the employees) are part-time workers, college students who may want to work one or two nights a week,” Thorson said. So, will the business be offering any promotions to get people in the door? The short answer is no. “You know what? Our prices are so low right now, we don’t put anything on special. Our food prices are pretty much as-is,” Thorson said. When scouting potential locations, Thorson said JL Beers looked at many sites before settling on the east edge of Moorhead, an area he describes as undergoing something of a revival. “A lot of places are remodeling and revamping their locations, making things look good again along here. We wanted to be part of that,” he said. www.inforum.com