"Lady Gaga," a $3 topping, brings the energy you'd expect to the veggie burger, though surely this singer deserves a racier combination than burrata, tomato, basil and balsamic. While it would no doubt be good with many of the options, I don't suggest it unadorned (as if the Lady herself would ever be), with just lettuce, tomato and a pickle. Made from garbanzo beans, soybeans and herbs, the spongy, green-hued patty lacks the toothsome texture and depth of flavor found in common substitutions such as brown rice, lentils and mushrooms.

When a big-name chef launches a casual outpost, expectations run high. But mistakes happen, especially when Guard (who accompanies sous chef Sam Freund in the kitchen a couple times a week) isn't around, such as the time the Brussels sprouts arrived with garlic aioli, not the brighter lemon-walnut vinaigrette, and the day the kitchen ran out of ice cream for several specialty shakes. Once, the beer-battered onion rings reminded me of the Michelin Man: puffy, pale and soft. You'd think a chef with Guard's cred would know better than to deep-fry Oreos, even if they are plated with Nutella-vanilla sauce. And some recipes aren't quite up to snuff from the start, like the "One Night in Bangkok" topping, which, despite papaya slaw, mint and sriracha aioli, ends up tamer than one night in Boise.

More problematic is the perception that, despite clever combinations and well-sourced ingredients, you're not getting what you pay for. In part, this comes from charging extra for fries, not just specialty ones like sweet potato or duck fat (both fantastic), but regular russets, too. Guard's not alone in this practice, but when burgers cost upwards of $14, as they often do here, the add-on seems like price-gouging from a hotel mini-bar. Compounding this feeling is the size of the Bluepoint buns, so large they make the more than third-pound burgers seem smaller than they are. Aside from the veggie, every burger I've eaten at TAG ended up with several bites of meatless bun, the good stuff having disappeared before the bread. That's why the naked option is such a good one: The starch doesn't overwhelm the meat.

See also: Behind the Scenes at TAG Burger Bar
Mark Manger
See also: Behind the Scenes at TAG Burger Bar
Mark Manger

Location Info


TAG Burger Bar

1222 Madison St.
Denver, CO 80206

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Central Denver


See also: Behind the Scenes at TAG Burger Bar

TAG Burger Bar
Mac-n-Cheese $5
Crispy Brussels sprouts $5
Onion rings $5
Duck-fat fries $2.50/$5
Sweet-potato fries $2.50/$4
Kung Fu Panda salad $6
Classic burgers $7 to $10
Toppings $.50 to $20 extra
Deep-fried Oreos $4
Boozy milkshake $10

Though customers didn't know it, they already voted once to turn Madison Street into TAG Burger Bar. With every bourbon-spiked milkshake, each "Colorado Proud," every order of duck-fat fries, they're again voicing support. Long live democracy.

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jenna-furrr topcommenter

The Andrew Jackson looks AMAZING! Great review!