If you've ever been to the Valverde Country Club, a somewhat unsavory bar at 1319 West Alameda Avenue, then you know that the country club moniker is a little like comparing Fritos to foie gras. Still, the beers are ultra-cheap, the clientele, animated (to say the least), and now that Adrian and Brenda Bonilla have taken over the watering hole's impossibly tiny kitchen, there are burgers -- BIGASS burgers the size of saucers -- to soak up the suds.
And they kick ass.
The married couple, who moved to Denver fourteen years ago from Jalisco, Mexico to "explore a better future," says Adrian, opened a concession stand on Virginia and Federal on a dime and a dream. "My dad brought us to Denver to give us more opportunities, but we didn't have much money, so we started simple, with a small vending stand," recalls Adrian. Then, in 2009, the duo bought a pencil-yellow school bus and equipped it with a makeshift kitchen from which they slung mega-burgers from a Federal Boulevard parking lot.
And things were going relatively well until late last year, when the bus was suddenly shut down by the city. "The city didn't like our stairs, they said the bus was too big for the parking space and apparently other vendors were complaining about the size of the bus, too" laments Adrian. And that's where Adrian's dream could have ended, but instead, he scoured CraigsList, looking for alternative locations, and spotted a blurb advertising a vacant kitchen that needed someone to man it.
So Adrian and Brenda stowed their bus in the parking lot adjacent to the Valverde Country Club and brought their burger business -- Mega Burger-Las Hamburguesas -- inside the bar, where they're now flipping the brutes on a flattop grill, using 100 percent Angus beef, ground in-house, and shaped into six-inch rounds on a tortilla press. The bread is custom-baked at a nearby panaderia, and the patties come skyscraped with everything from avocado and caramelized mushrooms to hot dogs, ham and bacon. The mega-burger -- double meat, double cheese and all of the above -- weighs more than a boulder, and also comes heaped with lettuce, tomato, onions and sided with a mound of hand-cut french fries.
The idea for the mega-burgers, says Adrian, who also serves amazingly good flautas, originated in Oaxaca, Mexico. "I worked there for two months, and saw burgers like this all over the city -- and I loved them and wanted to bring something like that back to Denver," he explains.
He's also bringing a charitable component to the table, donating 25 percent of all food sales, sold between 5 and 11 p.m. this Saturday, to the relief efforts in Japan. And, in addition to those Frisbee-size burgers, going forward, he's planning to serve menudo and posole on the weekends. Oh, and by the way, there are smaller burgers, too, including one called "Miserable," clearly designed for wimps.
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The kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday and Sunday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday.
For more information, check out their Facebook page, or call 720-935-5453.