Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, bacon burgers, green chile burgers — they're what we crave when we want good old-fashioned American bar food. Towering high or smashed flat, dripping with molten American cheese or teetering with outlandish toppings, Denver's burgers offer something for every taste. Here are the eleven best burger bars around town for something sizzling to sink your teeth into.
5280 Burger Bar
500 16th Street Mall, 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.
Bob's Atomic Burgers
1310 Ford Street, Golden
Bob's Atomic Burgers in Golden doesn't have a roster filled with goofy names and crazy ingredients. If you want a burger, it's just called a hamburger. Extras for your mountainous mouthful are either free — like tomato, onion and pickled jalapeños — or cost about a buck each for the likes of bacon, green chile, guacamole, cheese or a fried egg. Whatever you choose, it will be mounded on a six-ounce patty formed to order from fresh-ground beef. And while that beef is cooked to a pink-free medium, the fat-to-lean ratio definitely leans toward fat, so your burger will be juicy and dripping. If you insist on a burger with a name, stop by for occasional specials like the Shaq Attack (cherry peppers, cheddar and bacon), or Pastor Al's Hamburguesa (topped with pineapple-chili pork).
The Cherry Cricket
2641 East Second Avenue, 303-322-7666
2220 Blake Street, 303-297-3644
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 (we definitely 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 that opened in spring 2018 added the restaurant's classic appeal to the Ballpark neighborhood.
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. Since beers and burgers are a natural together, Chuburger also pours a full lineup of Oskar Blues suds to enhance your burger-eating pleasure. The menu is a build-your-own situation, with six patties to choose from, including beef, bison, salmon and falafel. Load on topping to your heart's content from a list of standard freebies and $1 upgrades. Wash it all down with a B. Stiff root beer float or a boozy Hand Shake.
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.
Grandpa's Burger Haven
23 South Federal Boulevard
Grandpa's Burger Haven is a hole-in-the-wall in the truest sense, a spot where you shout your order through an actual hole in the wall. Originally, this was all there was to Grandpa's — just a little white-and-chrome box with a kitchen inside and a window facing the street. Today there's a kind of enclosed solarium where customers can stand out of the wind and rain while they wait — but there are still no tables, no waiters or waitresses, no plates, and orders are written on the white bags that eventually hold your old-school, and very good, burgers. There was a time when all hamburger stands were like this; now, almost no hamburger stands are. That's why Grandpa's is such a treasure.
My Brother's Bar
2376 15th Street
Yes, My Brother’s Bar has a fascinating history that stretches back to the 1870s and encompasses Neal Cassady and the Beat Generation. But Denver denizens come for burgers and beers — and good conversation from the bartenders and servers. Natives will argue about which is better, the JCB (that's jalapeño cream cheese to you noobs), the cheesier Johnny Burger or the original, unadulterated Steerburger. Whichever you choose, don't expect a classy presentation (not even a plate!), but be sure to include a mixed basket of fries and onion rings. Enjoy it all without the usual barroom din of televised sports or loud music.
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.
2000 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder
Jimmy Seidel, who founded the Snarf’s sandwich chain in 1996, says he liked to cook burgers for his employees “just for fun, and they loved them, and I kinda always wanted to give a burger place a shot.” So in 2013, he turned a former barbecue shack in Boulder into the first Snarfburger, and “now I’m in the sandwich-and-burger business,” says Seidel. Snarfburger is a casual spot that emphasizes basic burgers with the same delicious, humorous twists that have become a hallmark of Snarf’s. Look for Snarfburger to make the jump from Boulder to Denver, with new joints coming soon to 2527 Federal Boulevard and 1001 East 11th Avenue.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Tap & Burger
Highland, 2219 West 32nd Avenue, 720-287-4493
Sloan's Lake, 1565 Raleigh Street, 720-456-6779
Belleview, 4910 S Newport Street, 720-583-1367
The burgers at this trio are hefty and juicy, ranging from the classic Shroom Luvas to the slightly overboard house burger, piled with smoked pulled pork, a thick-cut onion ring and two kinds of cheese. Add-ons like a fried egg or a luxurious slab of foie gras turn the basic burger into an all-out dining experience. Tap & Burger doesn't stop at standard ground cow; for something different, go with lamb, turkey, grassfed beef or a meatless Impossible burger.
TAG Burger Bar
1222 Madison Street
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 TAG Classic or the Old School) and ranging up to $13 for the Wild West bacon burger and the Magic Dragon bison burger. A trip to TAG Burger Bar is sure to be a noisy, tasty time. Don't miss the duck-fat fries and Guard's iconic fried pickles.