Burger lovers may be excited by out-of-towners Shake Shack and In-N-Out coming to Colorado, but Denver already has plenty of good burger joints with a local pedigree, from multi-store chains to high-end eateries. Whether you want the simplest dive-bar burger or a heartstopping behemoth, there's something for you at one of our ten Colorado burger bars — listed in alphabetical order.
5280 Burger Bar
500 16th Street, 303-825-1020
4301 Main Street, Westminster, 720-887-5970
Juicy burgers, housemade buns and a variety of creative toppings make 5280 a great choice for gourmet burger lovers. Stick with fresh ground beef or venture into bison or lamb for something more unusual. Even the basic burger is made with Black Angus, but the 5280 Prime takes quality a step above, with 7X Ranch Prime wagyu as the base. Visit the 16th Street Mall original or mix it up a little at the newer Westminster outpost.
3200 Pecos Street
When you step up to this burger counter at Avanti Food & Beverage, don't order a burger — call it a "burg." Whether your choice is a hamburg, cheeseburg or veggieburg, you won't be disappointed by the flavor and quality that comes from locally sourced and housemade ingredients — including the ketchup.
5453 Manhart Street, Sedalia
This one requires a bit of a drive, but Sedalia is an easy trip — especially knowing what's at the end of the drive. Bud's Bar is a burger bar because it's a bar with only four menu items: a hamburger, a cheeseburger, and a double of each. Don't bother asking for fries; the burgers come with a bag of chips, and that's it. A burger at Bud's is one of life's simple pleasures; there's nothing extraneous — just beef, an oil-slicked bun and molten American cheese.
2641 East Second Avenue
Denver's oldest burger bar lets you mess around with toppings if you want, but a char-grilled Cricket Burger is all you really need. And, okay, throw on some green chiles if you must. The Cherry Creek original keeps getting more iconic — and more iconoclastic — as the rest of the neighborhood grows and modernizes around it. A second location will bring the restaurant's classic appeal to the Ballpark neighborhood at 2220 Blake Street beginning April 17.
1225 Ken Pratt Boulevard, Longmont, 303-776-1914
3490 Larimer Street, 720-668-9167
Oskar Blues runs these two burger joints with the same laid-back style as its original Lyons brewpub, but with a focus on top-quality beef; the company even runs its own Hops & Heifers cattle farm. Since beers and burgers are a natural together, Chuburger also pours a full lineup of Oskar Blues suds to enhance your burger-eating pleasure.
Crave Real Burgers
9344 Dorchester Street, Highlands Ranch, 720-344-3006
3982 Limelight Avenue, Castle Rock, 303-814-2829
If you want to get crazy, Crave is the place to do it. Sure, you can stick with the Plain Jane and be happy, but why not try the Fatty Melt, which cradles a beef patty between two grilled-cheese sandwiches, or the infamous Luther, which uses two doughnuts instead of a bun. Other outlandish toppings include whole jalapeño poppers, pulled pork, grilled pineapple and hot dogs. You'll be craving a couch after a burger at Crave.
Highland Tap & Burger
Sloan's Lake Tap & Burger
2219 West 32nd Avenue, 720-287-4493
1565 Raleigh Street, 720-456-6779
The burgers at these sibling eateries are hefty and juicy, ranging from the classic Shroom Luvas to the slightly overboard house burger, piled with root beer-sauced pulled pork and a thick-cut onion ring. Add-ons like a fried egg or a luxurious slab of foie gras turn the basic burger into an all-out dining experience. There's a third Tap & Burger coming soon to 4910 South Newport Street at Belleview Station, set to open later this summer.
Larkburger feels like a fast-food outlet, but the burgers eat like those at the best steakhouses. Unlike most quick-service burger joints, Larkburger lets you choose your temperature, so medium comes perfectly pink in the middle and full of juicy, beefy flavor. Larkburger isn't named after a bird; the Colorado chain was founded in Edwards as a casual spin-off of fine-dining eatery Larkspur. You won't find crazy toppings here; the house sauce — not the standard gloppy Thousand Island goo — is all the extra you'll need.
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Park Burger is one of Denver's favorite neighborhood burger joints, with packed dining rooms at the original on South Pearl Street and the newer outposts in Highland, RiNo and Hilltop. Good value and a few fun topping combos are the signatures here, with the Royale (grilled onions, bleu cheese and bacon), the Croque (ham, Swiss and a fried egg), and the Chilango (cheddar, jalapeños and guacamole) as standouts. But the traditional Park Burger or even the quarter-pound Mini Park Burger are perfect for purists.
TAG Burger Bar
1222 Madison St.
If you want a chef-caliber burger, leave it to a chef. Troy Guard brought his burgers to the Congress Park neighborhood in 2012, offering a fun, modern take on beef between buns. The burgers are highly configurable, with starter sets coming in at under $10 (for the Old School) and ranging up to twice that for the towering Andrew Jackson, which includes sliced prime rib and fried avocado among its many toppings. A trip to TAG Burger Bar is sure to be a noisy, tasty time.