This town is already stuffed with burgers, and today another meaty addition joined the ranks: Steak 'n Shake, which opened in Centennial. While we have no doubt that this link in the Midwestern chain will quickly endear itself to Denverites, the Steak 'n Shake burger has some fierce competition here.
In honor of Steak 'n Shake's opening -- and because two of the restaurants on our five best burgers list from April have since closed -- we're serving up this updated look at the city's ten best burgers (in no particular order):
10. HBurger HBurger rode the wave of trendy burger joints into Denver, and it's proved it has staying power. The spot tops its burgers -- beef or lamb -- with such tasty accoutrements as Hatch green chiles, bacon, egg and cheese, feta and housemade tomato jam. We're partial to the classic five-ounce quarter-pounder: a medium-rare patty topped with onions, tomato, pickles and lettuce -- and for pocket change, you can add a little American cheese, too.
9. The Keg Steakhouse & Bar Yes, it's a chain. And, yes, the interior is a little bit of a throwback to opulent steakhouses of the '80s and '90s. But that just means the Keg has had time to get its burger down. Juicy with drippy grease, velvety in texture, seasoned with salt and pepper and the tang of the grill, it's a vast improvement on regular ground chuck. Trust us: Ignore those facts and belly up to the bar for the burger. The toppings of lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, mayonnaise and a slab of cheddar don't exactly break new ground, but why mess with success?
8. My Brother's Bar This iconic Denver institution serves an iconic burger, an un-fancified relic of an era when burgers were about greasy beef and cheese, a pile of fries and a beer. At My Brother's, they come to the table wrapped in paper and accompanied by a pickle caddy, which allows you to accessorize your burger any way you like it, whether that's just with ketchup and mustard, or piled with so many spicy banana peppers that you practically choke.
7. Larkburger We don't have In-N-Out or Shake Shack, and it took us decades to get our own Steak 'n Shake. But at least we had homegrown Larkburger, a small Colorado chain that's been growing, with good reason: the fast-casual restaurant turns out eco-minded Angus burgers, grilled to spec every time and topped with tomatoes, lettuce and a zippy house sauce. With a side of crispy truffle Parmesan fries, this is a damn good meal on the cheap.
6. Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar Sergio Romero's unique lamb/beef burger at Argyll is one of the things we most miss about the Cherry Creek restaurant that closed its doors this summer in anticipation of a move. But while we wait for that to reopen, at least we can sink our teeth into Romero's burgers at Le Grand. A hefty all-beef patty gets grilled a perfect medium-rare, then topped simply with lettuce, purple onions and tomato on a fluffy potato bun. Sided with skinny, well-salted fries, it's a wholly satisfying version of a classic.
5. Colt & Gray Colt & Gray may be better known for its willingness to serve parts of the animal that many chefs consider waste -- beef hearts and duck testicles -- but the neighborhood gastropub also grills up one hell of a burger. Covered with Gruyere if you ask and truffles when the season's right, the juice-drooling hunk of burger on toasted brioche can take on any beef patty in town.
4. Crave This Castle Rock shop hasn't just come up with innovative toppings for a burger; it's practically reinvented the American classic. Yes, it serves a bacon cheeseburger, but you'll also find the dim sum Daffy with duck, hoisin sauce and slaw. Or the towering Cubano, so piled with ham, pork, cheese, pickles and a hot dog that you can barely find the burger. And the most gluttonous of all? The Luther, a bacon cheeseburger with a fried egg between two glazed doughnut that earned a spot on our 100 Favorite Dishes in Denver roster.
3. Bud's Bar If you're not going to serve anything but burgers, you'd better do them right. There's nothing fancy about the burgers at this old-school Sedalia roadhouse, but that's what makes them particularly epic. Beef patties infused with the tang of the grill come in single or double form, plain or topped with cheese. Bud's does burgers -- and only burgers -- exactly right. So don't even think about asking for a side of fries.
2. Park Burger Just like many of the burger joints that have opened in this city over the past few years, Park Burger offers a host of toppings that go way beyond the classic cheese-lettuce-tomato-pickles. Why not have caramelized onions and bacon? Or corned beef and sauerkraut? While we've yet to find a burger at Park Burger that we don't like, we're especially enamored of the Croque, which crowns a beef patty with ham, Swiss and a fried egg.
1. Highland Tap & Burger How do we love the burgers at Highland Tap & Burger? Let us count the ways. There's the shroom luva's burger, topped with Ementhaler cheese and sauteed mushrooms. There's a bacon and white-cheddar cheeseburger that's exactly what a bacon cheeseburger should be. There's the towering Tap burger, which includes root beer-pulled pork and an onion ring. And if you're feeling really spendy, you can even have your burger topped with a little foie gras. No matter what you order, though, prepare for mouthgasm. This place really does the burger -- any burger -- right.
Have another favorite? Tell us about it below.
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