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Review: Lucky's 13 big on fun and food options

Lucky's 13 offers a fun environment for those who enjoy the gastropub scene. Eric Daeuber / The Forum1 / 2
The enormous plate of Frickles ($9.99) is a good interpretation of the salt- and fat-heavy appetizer that appeals to the bar-going crowd. Eric Daeuber / The Forum2 / 2

The gastro pub has become a phenomenon in Fargo with big-bars-becoming-big-kitchens popping up everywhere. They seem to be a taste that you don't need to take much effort to acquire because they traffic in the things everyone wants out of an evening's entertainment: fun, friends, and food (with food being the last of the three).

When you are having fun, and you have good friends around, you can forgive quite a bit. Food becomes basic and caters to the basic appetite - heavy on salt, high in calories, with an accent on big flavors.

Lucky's 13 is enormous and busy. It's not loud as you might think, and it's laid out well so you can still have a bit of privacy. It's fun, to be sure, so check off the first of the three. It seems perpetually busy, so check off the second.

The menu is big and loaded with all the variations on the meat-sandwich-cuisine-with-a-side- of-something-fried that has become the comfort food of the Red River Valley.

With a menu this large and so much food making its way through the kitchen, the quality of food is going to be hit and miss. All of it is passable, some of it is very good and a couple of visits will score something you really like.

The fish taco, made with a grilled walleye ($15.49) is a hit. Mild Cajun spice and near blackened gives it the required bite, but it's accompanied by fresh topping and a very nice mild salsa. It doesn't approach exotic but it exceeds commonplace. The fish is grilled to translucent and remains moist.

The prime rib sandwich ($12.49) doesn't fair quite so well, being a bit overdone and dry. But this drawback is almost mitigated by an excellent au jus that manages to stay on the manageable side of salty.

The otherwise excellent beer cheese soup creeps over that line, though. It's rich, and the cheese is pronounced, so it doesn't need that extra dash of salt. But fans of it tell me that, if I had a brew in hand as well as what's in the bowl, I would come to understand it all a bit better.

There are a couple of appetizers on the menu that take full advantage of the barroom DNA inherent in Lucky's 13.

The endless supply of popcorn goes without saying as a good idea. The tater tots ($11.49 as an appetizer) are made with cheese and bacon and cater to the mug-and-munchie crowd almost as well as the enormous plate of deep fried pickles that come on the menu as Frickles ($9.99) served with ranch dressing. Both are good interpretations of the salt- and fat-heavy sides that tell you Lucky's 13 is still a bar.

For a long evening with friends, Lucky's 13 is comfortable. Service is fast and, coming with that, a bit impersonal. They are just busy all the time and, as simple vehicles to get food to your table hot and on-time, service is good.

It's clear that the popularity of gastropubs in Fargo means that the after-dinner drink isn't enough for the Midwest taste in fun anymore. The craving for a longer stay and some version of comfort cuisine explains the popularity of Lucky's 13.

Lucky's 13 Pub

Address: 4301 17th Ave. S., Fargo

Cuisine: American

Food: 2.5 stars

Service: 3 stars

Ambiance: 3 stars

Dining Details

Hours: Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Phone: (701) 551-0013

Reservations accepted: No

Alcohol: Full bar

Credit cards accepted: Yes

Eric Daeuber is an instructor at Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Readers can reach him at food@daeuber.com.

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