Buffalo burgers, turkey burgers with sweet-potato purée, Maryland crab-boil burgers -- Mirepoix offers them all. The kitchen makes no claims of authenticity or traditionalism, but instead takes the idea of the classic American burger and turns it back on itself, giving it a real regional flair. By using the best ingredients in an array of inspired fixings, mounting everything on great breads and turning all the skills of a fine dining crew toward the creation of the best burgers possible, Mirepoix successfully challenges the notion that any new take on an old American classic has to be fussy or fancy. In truth, all it has to be is good, and Mirepoix goes one step further by making its burgers great.

Buffalo burgers, turkey burgers with sweet-potato purée, Maryland crab-boil burgers -- Mirepoix offers them all. The kitchen makes no claims of authenticity or traditionalism, but instead takes the idea of the classic American burger and turns it back on itself, giving it a real regional flair. By using the best ingredients in an array of inspired fixings, mounting everything on great breads and turning all the skills of a fine dining crew toward the creation of the best burgers possible, Mirepoix successfully challenges the notion that any new take on an old American classic has to be fussy or fancy. In truth, all it has to be is good, and Mirepoix goes one step further by making its burgers great.


Jim's Burger Haven
Courtesy Jim's Burger Haven Facebook
Sometimes you just want a burger. Not a buffalo burger, not some coddled Kobe-beef monstrosity with butter lettuce, aioli and heirloom tomatoes. Just a burger: dead cow on bread. That's when you head right for Jim's Burger Haven, a car-cult joint whose origins can be traced to the glory days of ten-cent milkshakes and miniskirted carhops. The burgers date from that era, too. The kitchen makes big, thin patties of loose-packed meat, cooks them to order on the flat grill until they're well-done and crispy around the edges, then serves them on big, squishy buns totally inadequate for maintaining the structural integrity of anything larger than a small single, the cheapskate burger that costs 89 cents. All burgers come loaded unless you ask for them otherwise, the meat becoming just another stratum of flavor and texture as the bun, burger, gooey cheese, mustard, ketchup, bright onion, sweet tomato, lettuce and pickle brine merge into a single, over-arching burger gestalt. In other words, this is a classic, old-fashioned burger.

Sometimes you just want a burger. Not a buffalo burger, not some coddled Kobe-beef monstrosity with butter lettuce, aioli and heirloom tomatoes. Just a burger: dead cow on bread. That's when you head right for Jim's Burger Haven, a car-cult joint whose origins can be traced to the glory days of ten-cent milkshakes and miniskirted carhops. The burgers date from that era, too. The kitchen makes big, thin patties of loose-packed meat, cooks them to order on the flat grill until they're well-done and crispy around the edges, then serves them on big, squishy buns totally inadequate for maintaining the structural integrity of anything larger than a small single, the cheapskate burger that costs 89 cents. All burgers come loaded unless you ask for them otherwise, the meat becoming just another stratum of flavor and texture as the bun, burger, gooey cheese, mustard, ketchup, bright onion, sweet tomato, lettuce and pickle brine merge into a single, over-arching burger gestalt. In other words, this is a classic, old-fashioned burger.


The Cherry Cricket
Courtesy of the Cherry Cricket
The town's chefs love the Cherry Cricket. Softball teams, musicians, barflies, night creatures and neighbors all love the Cricket. Why? Because the Cricket is a classic burger bar where the smoke is thick (unless you're in the new non-smoking section), the company good, the coolers stocked and the burgers among the best in town. With its dark wood, chrome-edged tables and long history as Cherry Creek's anti-Creeker hangout, it's the kind of joint all those chain-burger outfits want to be and are trying their best to imitate. But the Cricket has something those places will never have: a soul.

The town's chefs love the Cherry Cricket. Softball teams, musicians, barflies, night creatures and neighbors all love the Cricket. Why? Because the Cricket is a classic burger bar where the smoke is thick (unless you're in the new non-smoking section), the company good, the coolers stocked and the burgers among the best in town. With its dark wood, chrome-edged tables and long history as Cherry Creek's anti-Creeker hangout, it's the kind of joint all those chain-burger outfits want to be and are trying their best to imitate. But the Cricket has something those places will never have: a soul.


Pat's Philly Steaks and Subs
For reasons that have never been entirely clear, Denver -- a city 2,000 miles removed from the front lines of the Pat's-versus-Geno's sandwich war -- has always been a battleground fought over by rival cheesesteak operations. There's east side versus west side, foothills against flatlands, and that competition is all good for cheesesteak consumers. But Pat's #1 is the winner, edging out all comers with a sublime, authentic Philly cheesesteak that's a perfect combination of shredded, flat-grilled beef gummed together with melted cheese and an easy dose of fried onions, all mounded up inside a soft, chewy bun that's just dense enough to soak up the excess grease. Despite the obvious handicap of doing its best work half a continent away from the center of the cheesesteak universe -- and for a crowd that still sometimes labors under the ridiculous delusion that a cheesesteak ain't proper without green peppers and mushrooms -- Pat's stays true to its school.

For reasons that have never been entirely clear, Denver -- a city 2,000 miles removed from the front lines of the Pat's-versus-Geno's sandwich war -- has always been a battleground fought over by rival cheesesteak operations. There's east side versus west side, foothills against flatlands, and that competition is all good for cheesesteak consumers. But Pat's #1 is the winner, edging out all comers with a sublime, authentic Philly cheesesteak that's a perfect combination of shredded, flat-grilled beef gummed together with melted cheese and an easy dose of fried onions, all mounded up inside a soft, chewy bun that's just dense enough to soak up the excess grease. Despite the obvious handicap of doing its best work half a continent away from the center of the cheesesteak universe -- and for a crowd that still sometimes labors under the ridiculous delusion that a cheesesteak ain't proper without green peppers and mushrooms -- Pat's stays true to its school.

Taste of Philly is a little storefront operation that looks, feels and smells more like a real Philly joint than some places actually operating in sight of Independence Hall -- from the cramped seating (six tables set nearly on top of each other) and counter that opens straight onto the tiny galley kitchen, to the Tastykakes by the register and the birch beer in the cooler by the door. The walls are hung with the requisite East Coast paraphernalia -- Eagles pennants and framed posters of Rocky Balboa -- and, most important, both the cheesesteaks and the hoagies are enough to send blue-state refugees into paroxysms of homesickness. With every sandwich made on an Amaroso roll (the gold standard of hoagie rolls), stacked thick and well dressed by the sandwich artists in the kitchen, a lunch here is exactly what the name promises: a Taste of Philly for those lonesome for the East Coast.

Taste of Philly is a little storefront operation that looks, feels and smells more like a real Philly joint than some places actually operating in sight of Independence Hall -- from the cramped seating (six tables set nearly on top of each other) and counter that opens straight onto the tiny galley kitchen, to the Tastykakes by the register and the birch beer in the cooler by the door. The walls are hung with the requisite East Coast paraphernalia -- Eagles pennants and framed posters of Rocky Balboa -- and, most important, both the cheesesteaks and the hoagies are enough to send blue-state refugees into paroxysms of homesickness. With every sandwich made on an Amaroso roll (the gold standard of hoagie rolls), stacked thick and well dressed by the sandwich artists in the kitchen, a lunch here is exactly what the name promises: a Taste of Philly for those lonesome for the East Coast.


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