National Hamburger Day is Sunday, May 28, which falls on Memorial Day weekend this year — the perfect time to celebrate the all-American meal. Whether you like your burger old-fashioned or newfangled, simple or over the top, there's a burger for you. From white-tablecloth eateries to greasy spoons, here are the ten best hamburgers in Denver right now, listed in alphabetical order.
5280 Burger Bar
500 16th St.
This burger joint on the ground floor of the Denver Pavilions has been turning out some top-notch sandwiches over the past few years (and some great housemade ice cream, too). But a new roster of tempting treats has pushed the eatery to even loftier burger heights. There's the Perfect burger, with habanero bacon jam, Gruyère, pickled red onion and roasted-garlic aioli; the Vaquero, with guacamole, chimichurri, queso fresco and mango-habanero aioli; and the Truffle burger, with truffled aioli, mushroom duxelles (that's a flavor-packed paste, if you're not familiar with culinary lingo), Parmesan and arugula. They're all balanced, chef-driven creations packed with flavor, but without ever approaching stunt-food status.
2641 East Second Avenue
A Cherry Cricket burger is an old friend in a sea of newcomers. The Cricket does best what it has done for decades: turns out juicy, char-infused burgers that serve as conduits to our fondest food memories. After closing for six months because of a kitchen fire in late 2016, the Cricket came back strong in April, and fans flocked to the old-school institution for their favorite burger. Welcome back, Cricket Burger!
3495 South Downing Street
Taco Tuesday is a legitimate draw at many bars around town, Mexican or otherwise. But Cochino Taco throws a wrench into the Taco Tuesday machine by making its burger a special that day. Owner Johnny Ballen, who's also a partner in the Squeaky Bean downtown, designed this gutbuster, which sports a ladleful of queso, poblano chiles, fried jalapeño shards and a pile of "lettuce fluff" — Ballen's catchphrase for the fine-shredded iceberg found on diner burgers across the country. A six-ounce patty gets a simple griddling on the flat-top, and then the whole mess is presented with a mound of tater tots. With something this good on the menu, we're wondering why Ballen didn't name his Englewood joint Cochino Burger.
375 South Pearl Street
This little pub in West Washington Park doesn't get the attention of the burger big boys, but it's quietly turning out one of the best in town. Finley's ups the beef quotient by mixing shreds of slow-cooked short rib in with the ground chuck before forming the patties. The result is a toothsome, unique burger made even more craveable by the addition of bacon, cheddar and a velvety Bearnaise sauce.
Highland Tap & Burger
2219 West 32nd Avenue
The burgers are big at Highland Tap & Burger, with the TAP burger coming in as the biggest. Two kinds of cheese drape over a patty piled with root-beer-marinated pulled pork and hula-hoops of batter-fried onion — and the menu has the audacity to suggest adding a fried egg. If you're a little more staid in your aspirations, stick with the build-your-own menu. The third-pound, fresh-ground patties are more than good enough to stand on their own. You can also get a great selection of burgers at the new Sloan's Lake Tap & Burger, at 1565 Raleigh Street, including one topped with a mini-patty of foie gras.
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