- Alex Springer
There comes a point in life when you become a more mature version of the party animal that you used to be. The tattoos and piercings are still in place, you can still hold your liquor and, if you needed to, you could headbutt your way out of a barfight. At the same time, life, family and the knell of responsibility have softened your edges just a bit. It's right about the time when you start enjoying a bottle of whiskey and listening to Nirvana's In Utero from the comfort of your armchair more than the idea of getting into the mix at Urban Lounge.
If I could pick a restaurant equivalent of this transitional phase, it would be Lucky's Iron Door Roadhouse (3754 W. Center View Way, West Jordan, 801-878-9439, luckysirondoor.com). Those who have visited the Iron Door's cool older sibling, Lucky 13 Bar and Grill (135 W. 1300 South), will recognize the same effortlessly hip attitude, bounteous roster of craft beers and legendary lineup of burgers. The main difference between the two is that Iron Door has divided its space between a gastropub and a family-friendly restaurant where you can introduce your kids to the magic of Lucky 13's burgers and rosemary garlic fries. I wouldn't change a thing about Lucky 13, but I have to give some props to the decision to create a place where nondrinkers who love a good burger can get some locally made satisfaction.
Since I've visited Lucky 13 a few times in the past, the biggest question on my mind was whether Lucky's Iron Door would throw down the same burgers I've grown to love. Just in case you weren't aware, the Lucky 13 burger menu is replete with house-smoked bacon and fresh buns baked onsite; they're not messing around. I've always felt that a restaurant's atmosphere and overall vibe had a small but crucial part to play in the way food tastes, and watching a sloppy, rare-cooked burger hit the bar at Lucky 13 is a singular pleasure. I'm happy to report that Lucky's Iron Door preserves this experience—even when you place a takeout order.
For my most recent visit, I called up Lucky's Iron Door and ordered a few of the burgers I had yet to try. I started with the Nut Butter Burger ($10.50), because a bacon cheeseburger with a thick layer of creamy peanut butter seems like the perfect complement to the pure chaos of 2020. While I respect the hell out of this burger and the decision to feature it on a menu, it didn't quite work for me. Admittedly, I had no idea what to expect when I took my first bite, but something about the peanut butter and the bacon clashed on my palate. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if I wake up in the middle of the night months from now with an irrational craving for this burger. It's like that fucked-up relationship that you can't turn your back on because deep down, you know something that special will never be part of your life again.
I also tried the Smoked Pastrami and Swiss ($11.50), because you can't visit a local burger joint in Utah and not try their pastrami. Lucky's treats this local classic with the appropriate amount of reverence. It's piled high with some top-shelf hickory-smoked pastrami and a healthy dose of melted Swiss cheese, all of which goes perfectly with the burger itself. This burger perhaps reigns supreme for me—I'm a total sucker for a pastrami burger, but the amount of love they've shown these luscious stacks of thinly sliced, smoked-to-perfection pastrami is a beautiful thing.
Another classic I had to check out was the Bacon Stinky Cheeseburger ($11.50), which adds tangy blue cheese to the bacon cheeseburger template. There is a right and a wrong way to do a blue cheeseburger, and Lucky's does things right. They use softer, creamier cheese crumbles that melt quickly, thus dispersing their pleasantly pungent flavor across the surface of the burger. It's not light on the blue cheese by any stretch, so venture forth only if you can handle the stank.
I can't talk about Lucky's Iron Door or Lucky 13 without extolling the infernal excellence of the Ring of Fire ($11.50), one of the few spicy entrees in the state that has knocked me flat on my ass. Where some extremely spicy dishes just wallop you with pure heat, the Ring of Fire is a masterpiece because it tastes so damned good that self-preservation becomes an afterthought. The flavor of roasted jalapeño and habanero peppers together is spectacular on a cheddar cheese-bedecked burger, but it comes at the high premium of setting your mouth on fire. Anyone looking for a bit of danger in their burger should definitely enter the Ring of Fire.
As someone who has found himself looking back at his wilder days—such as they were—in the rearview mirror, I love that Lucky's Iron Door Roadhouse exists. It's a welcoming place wherever you are in your life's timeline, but there's something comforting about embracing the person you've become after the wild oats have been adequately sown. Just because you grow up a little doesn't mean a ridiculously sized burger and a beer or a Coke stop giving you life.