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Park Burger could turn into the cheeseburger grill of my dreams

Sitting in the bar, I knew I needed a burger. A couple of them, maybe. Big, fat burgers, mid-rare and bleeding juice over the sides of the buns. I needed the kind of burgers they show in commercials — straight-up porn-star burgers, all greasy and fat and bad for me.

Unfortunately, the bar where I was sitting didn't have burgers (or anyway, not the kind I wanted), and besides, I had other plans. So I had a very nice piece of fish instead, restrained and lovely, set over a bed of quartered sunchokes with a pale yellow citronette. It wasn't the same thing at all.

A couple of days later, I still needed a burger — my craving ramping slowly toward madness — but you know what they don't serve in most pizzerias? Burgers. So I had two slices of good New York thin and liked them well enough, I guess. But they weren't burgers.

Park Burger cooks up burgers for the masses.
Park Burger cooks up burgers for the masses.

Location Info

Map

Park Burger

1890 S. Pearl St.
Denver, CO 80210

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: South Denver

Details

Park BurgerParkBurger $6Veggie ParkBurger $5.75Royal $7.75Frenchy $6.75Chelango $7.50
1890 South Pearl Street
720-242-9951
Hours: 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday

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Later that night, I found myself on the phone with an old friend, and all I could talk about was the burger joints in one of the many cities I used to call home. Big burgers and little burgers, thin ones and fat ones, messy ones (the best kind) with which I have ruined innumerable shirts. It was too late for me to score what I was after, but my friend, that little fucker, made straight for the nearest In-N-Out for a double-double. I was jealous to the point of contemplating murder and went to bed dreaming of ingenious airborne burger-delivery systems (perfect use for all those surplus Predator drones once the robots rise up and enslave us all) and how rich I would have to be, exactly, in order to have a private jet standing by at all times to fly Laura and me to L.A. for a Tommy Burger or to Rochester for a Schaller's burger with hot sauce whenever I wanted. Pretty goddamn rich, was what I came up with. Not the kind of rich that a newspaperman generally becomes. Maybe if I started my own boy band...

By Saturday, I was more or less out of my mind with wanting. Sitting on the couch, I heard Laura call down to me from upstairs.

"Jay! What's the plan for —"

"Burgers," I barked back.

"Yeah, but what do you —"

"Burgers!"

"If you say burgers one more —"

"Burgers!"

Seriously, it's a wonder I'm still married at all.

We were on the road within the hour, headed for Park Burger, a burger joint on the quiet end of South Pearl Street that, after a few delays, had opened on May 16 for exactly two and a half hours, then closed because the kitchen was so overwhelmed by neighbors and friends and long-haul burger fanatics (like me) who'd been waiting months for a taste of what Park Burger had to offer. After all, the place bears the fingerprints of the decidedly un-burgerish Frank Bonanno, who helped Jean-Phillippe Failyau, his right-hand man, build this simple, straightforward burger palace. And after Park Burger got back open the next day, a colleague (not quite a Predator drone, but whatever) had delivered me a ParkBurger, a plain-jane burger with nothing more than burger sauce, lettuce, onions and two strips of thick-cut bacon to gild its proverbial lily. It was so good that I took a picture and used it as the wallpaper on my cell phone for a few days, so good that one wasn't nearly enough.

I made my own run at Park Burger two days later, hitting right at the cheeseburger witching hour (six o'clock, by the way — that moment when you're so starved from a day at work or play that even a 99-cent double from Mickey D's can look appetizing), snagging a high-top at the community table in front (because pretty much every other seat was filled and I hated to take up an entire booth with just my solo-dining ass) and running down the menu with my finger. ParkBurger, mini ParkBurger, double ParkBurger, turkey ParkBurger, buffalo ParkBurger, veggie ParkBurger. No. I wanted something special, something unique to this place, this vision of what a truly great neighborhood burger joint could be. Also, I am a dumb sucker for Froggish influences creeping up in the most unlikely of places, so when I saw the Frenchy listed under "Specialty Burgers," I knew I'd found my dinner. One of those, an order of sweet-potato fries and a drink, because Failyau knew not to even consider opening without a liquor license in hand.

Park Burger doesn't keep a big bar, but it's big enough. Six wines, nicely chosen and international in aspect. A handful of cocktails (including the Strawberry Skyy that I would later taste on that cheeseburger-craving Saturday, borrowing the glass from Laura when her back was turned and drinking away a third of something that tasted like cold lime and strawberry cotton candy, melted in a glass and completely untroubled by even the least stinging hint of alcohol). A nice spread of beers, both local and not so, some German, others Belgians. I went for a can of PBR because I am a philistine.

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