If you must avoid sugar, barbecue sauce is typically a no-no -- especially here in the West, where we like our sauces sweeter. Old West BBQ to the rescue. Its line of exceptional sauces includes a flavor-rich, sugar-free version that provides sweet relief for diabetic 'cue fans. Splenda is just one of the secrets to this splendid sauce.
Something about the Cherry Creek Grill just feels right. From the outside, from the inside, from the heavy front doors to the exhibition line in the back, everything about this restaurant oozes comfort. The restaurant fits so well into its corner in Cherry Creek, it's hard to believe that it's part of a chain -- and that's even harder to believe once you take a bite of the burger. This kitchen turns out a monster cheeseburger, made with excellent beef that stays juicy even when ordered well-done, set on a good roll and stacked with enough fresh accoutrements (lettuce, pickles, relish, huge slices of tomato, onions, etc.) that you almost have to unhinge your jaw like a python just to get a bite. Good burgers are a dime a dozen these days, and great ones come along maybe once in every dozen. But the best burgers hang with you a long time, and though we've tried many, many burgers this year, Cherry Creek Grill's is still the one to beat.
India's Restaurant
Courtesy India's Restaurant Facebook
Over the years, the almost claustrophobically cluttered India's has gained a very loyal following with its Mughlai Indian cuisine, a gentler and beautifully complex culinary counterpart to the wholesome simplicity of Haryanvi and the richness of Bengali seafood. Whether you're after an adventure, an education, just lunch or a little of all three, the best way to begin is with the tandoori offerings -- and, in particular, the tandoori chicken, the hallmark of Mughlai food, cooked on the bone and stained brick red by spices and tradition. Watch the cooks pull fresh orders out of the smoking tandoor on long metal skewers: This is what it means to barbecue in the mysterious East. India's chicken is sweet and smoky, served in big chunks, bones and all, dressed only with raw slivered onions and lemon quarters -- and that's all it needs. An Indian restaurant may not be what you think of when you're hankering for barbecued chicken, but India's is always our first stop.
From the outside, Burgers-n-Sports could easily be mistaken for just another strip-mall burger joint. From the inside, it looks more like the dugout of a very well-off parks-and-rec ballfield after a tragic collision with a fast-moving gift shop. But out of this mess of green chain-link, cement, commemorative photos and baseball hats comes a burger worth bragging about. Burgers-n-Sports uses good-quality American prime for its patties, tops them with simple but immaculately fresh ingredients that adhere strictly to the burger-maker's canon of whole onions (rings, not diced), fresh tomato slices, crisp lettuce, pickles and secret sauce, in that order, then squeezes everything together between two halves of a soft, chewy roll. The resulting masterpiece is wrapped in an envelope of waxed paper for easy travel, because burgers are made for eating on the run. If you can wait until you get home before sinking your teeth into one of the doubles, you're made of stronger stuff than we are. Goose Gossage's place knocks it out of the park every time.


Best Bar Burger With All the Trimmings

Hanson's

It's Friday night on Old South Pearl, and you forgot to make dinner reservations. Have no fear: There's always room for you at Hanson's. This idealized, college-town neighborhood bar comes complete with a great crowd, plenty of history (it used to be the legendary Oak Alley Inn) and the best bar burger in town. Ten ounces of grilled ground chuck, a soft kaiser roll and a side of the kitchen's zucchini fries are just the beginning, because what truly makes Hanson's special are the high-end toppings available on any burger. There are five kinds of cheese on the board, not counting the jalapeño-cream variety. Artichoke hearts, guacamole, garlic or lemon aioli, grilled pineapple, green chiles and prosciutto are all yours for the asking, as are the standard toppings. At Hanson's, everything is fresh, everything is well-handled, and the guys on the grills really know medium from medium-rare -- ten degrees of difference that make all the difference in the world.
Something about the Cherry Creek Grill just feels right. From the outside, from the inside, from the heavy front doors to the exhibition line in the back, everything about this restaurant oozes comfort. The restaurant fits so well into its corner in Cherry Creek, it's hard to believe that it's part of a chain -- and that's even harder to believe once you take a bite of the burger. This kitchen turns out a monster cheeseburger, made with excellent beef that stays juicy even when ordered well-done, set on a good roll and stacked with enough fresh accoutrements (lettuce, pickles, relish, huge slices of tomato, onions, etc.) that you almost have to unhinge your jaw like a python just to get a bite. Good burgers are a dime a dozen these days, and great ones come along maybe once in every dozen. But the best burgers hang with you a long time, and though we've tried many, many burgers this year, Cherry Creek Grill's is still the one to beat.
From the outside, Burgers-n-Sports could easily be mistaken for just another strip-mall burger joint. From the inside, it looks more like the dugout of a very well-off parks-and-rec ballfield after a tragic collision with a fast-moving gift shop. But out of this mess of green chain-link, cement, commemorative photos and baseball hats comes a burger worth bragging about. Burgers-n-Sports uses good-quality American prime for its patties, tops them with simple but immaculately fresh ingredients that adhere strictly to the burger-maker's canon of whole onions (rings, not diced), fresh tomato slices, crisp lettuce, pickles and secret sauce, in that order, then squeezes everything together between two halves of a soft, chewy roll. The resulting masterpiece is wrapped in an envelope of waxed paper for easy travel, because burgers are made for eating on the run. If you can wait until you get home before sinking your teeth into one of the doubles, you're made of stronger stuff than we are. Goose Gossage's place knocks it out of the park every time.

Best Burger With No Trimmings Whatsoever

Caro's Corner

Caro's Corner can be tough to find if you don't know what you're looking for, and even once you do find it, you won't see the niceties that some people find necessary for their dining enjoyment. Little things like tables, a menu, waitresses, regular hours, a phone. But if you can get past all that, you'll realize you're in a place where the grillman's art is still being practiced with a purity and simplicity that's all too rare these days. Owner Jeffrey Patterson does nothing but burgers. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, doubles of either, and that's it. There's a chalkboard on the wall that lists fries, and catfish nuggets on Friday, but forget those. At Caro's, the meat is what matters, and Patterson makes a beast of a burger, big as a dinner plate and as fresh as you'll get anywhere -- because nothing is done until you come through the door and ask for it. Yes, this means you'll have to wait a while, but know that in the end, the wait, the drive, everything, will all be worth it.

Best Bar Burger With All the Trimmings

Hanson's

Hanson's Grill & Tavern
It's Friday night on Old South Pearl, and you forgot to make dinner reservations. Have no fear: There's always room for you at Hanson's. This idealized, college-town neighborhood bar comes complete with a great crowd, plenty of history (it used to be the legendary Oak Alley Inn) and the best bar burger in town. Ten ounces of grilled ground chuck, a soft kaiser roll and a side of the kitchen's zucchini fries are just the beginning, because what truly makes Hanson's special are the high-end toppings available on any burger. There are five kinds of cheese on the board, not counting the jalapeo-cream variety. Artichoke hearts, guacamole, garlic or lemon aioli, grilled pineapple, green chiles and prosciutto are all yours for the asking, as are the standard toppings. At Hanson's, everything is fresh, everything is well-handled, and the guys on the grills really know medium from medium-rare -- ten degrees of difference that make all the difference in the world.
When you want fried chicken done right, you have to go to the source. You have to fall back on tradition -- when it was done best, first and with the most love. Yup, we're talking soul food, and in Denver, soul food really means just one place: Pierre's Supper Club. Although this longtime institution recently changed hands, new owner John Lewis doesn't plan to make any changes to what's been coming out of the kitchen for decades. And that would be the best catfish in town, great cornbread, good ribs, deep-green and flavorful collard greens, and -- most important -- perfect, crispy, peppery fried chicken. The breading is stiff and crunchy, the meat steaming-hot and tender, and when accessorized by a few shakes from the bottle of Pierre's Hot Sauce (one of the great bottled sauces of our time) sitting on each table, this chicken flies beyond the realm of backyard-picnic fare into something divine. There's a reason they call this stuff soul food, folks. And after a couple of pieces of Pierre's fried chicken, we think you'll know why.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of