Best of Denver

The Ten Best Locally Owned Burger Bars in Denver

Denver is brimming with burger bars.
Denver is brimming with burger bars. Courtesy of 5280 Burger Bar
Yes, Denver continues to be the landing ground of more and more national burger chains, with places like In-N-Out Burger (now open in Aurora and Colorado Springs), Kuma's Corner, Slater's 50/50, Shake Shack and others coming to town. But you can get a great burger while keeping your money in local hands by frequenting these homegrown originals. And if you're looking for a classic fast-food experience for a cheap meal on the go, see our list of the best Denver old-school hamburger joints.

Keep in mind that Denver and the surrounding counties went to Level Red COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, November 20, so dining rooms are closed for at least the next thirty days. Restaurants can offer patio dining, takeout and delivery, so plan your hamburger outing accordingly.

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 Burger Bar 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 sits in the shadow of Table Mountain in Golden. - MARK ANTONATION
Bob's Atomic Burgers sits in the shadow of Table Mountain in Golden.
Mark Antonation

Bob's Atomic Burgers

1310 Ford Street, Golden
bobsatomicburgers.net


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).


click to enlarge Carm & Gia Metropolitan is one of the city's newest burger joints. - COURTESY CARM & GIA METROPOLITAN
Carm & Gia Metropolitan is one of the city's newest burger joints.
Courtesy Carm & Gia Metropolitan

Carm & Gia Metropolitan

9598 East Montview Boulevard, Aurora
303-747-4008
carmandgiametropolitan.com

This mid-mod joint opened in a refurbished beauty parlor last February, offering juicy burgers, hot dogs and breakfast burritos. Go classic with the Metropolitan, or choose from a list of burgers named for Denver neighborhoods. The Globeville, for example, comes loaded with chorizo, pico de gallo, lettuce, jalapeños, Monterey Jack, avocado and chipotle mayo. Whichever option you choose, be ready for bold flavors and beefy goodness from 100 percent, never-frozen Angus patties.

click to enlarge The Cherry Cricket is Denver's longest-running burger bar. - COURTESY OF THE CHERRY CRICKET
The Cherry Cricket is Denver's longest-running burger bar.
Courtesy of the Cherry Cricket

The Cherry Cricket

2641 East Second Avenue, 303-322-7666
2220 Blake Street, 303-297-3644
cherrycricket.com

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.
click to enlarge Is the Luther burger breakfast or lunch? - CRAVE REAL BURGERS/FACEBOOK
Is the Luther burger breakfast or lunch?

Crave Real Burgers

9344 Dorchester Street, Highlands Ranch, 720-344-3006
3982 Limelight Avenue, Castle Rock, 303-814-2829
craverealburgers.com

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.


click to enlarge The burger and condiment caddie at My Brother's Bar is one of Denver's most familiar sights. - WESTWORD
The burger and condiment caddie at My Brother's Bar is one of Denver's most familiar sights.
Westword

My Brother's Bar

2376 15th Street
303-455-9991
mybrothersbar.com

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.

click to enlarge Park Burger is Denver's go-to neighborhood burger bar. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
Park Burger is Denver's go-to neighborhood burger bar.
Danielle Lirette

Park Burger

Mulitple Locations
parkburger.com

Park Burger is one of Denver's favorite neighborhood burger joints; from 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.

Snarfburger is coming to Denver from Boulder. - WESTWORD
Snarfburger is coming to Denver from Boulder.
Westword

Snarfburger

2000 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, 303-444-7711
2535 Federal Boulevard, 720-535-5184
1001 East 11th Avenue, 720-573-9134
snarfburger.com

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.

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
tapandburger.com

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, grass-fed beef or a meatless Impossible burger. Note: The Belleview Station Tap & Burger will be temporarily closed until Level Red dining room restrictions are lifted.

The Truffle Shuffle, made with Angus beef, mushrooms, swiss cheese, truffle aioli and truffle chips, is one of the fancier creations at TAG Burger Bar. - COURTESY TAG BURGER BAR
The Truffle Shuffle, made with Angus beef, mushrooms, swiss cheese, truffle aioli and truffle chips, is one of the fancier creations at TAG Burger Bar.
Courtesy TAG Burger Bar

TAG Burger Bar

1222 Madison Street
303-736-2260
tagburgerbar.com

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. Don't miss the duck-fat fries and Guard's iconic fried pickles. Note: After November 22, TAG Burger Bar will be closed until December 2, and then will reopen for outdoor dining, takeout and delivery.
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation