Old-school hamburger joints and small regional chains are a dying breed. Denver has a few scattered around the city that have kept tradition alive, offering a cheap meal and a catchy slogan in a bare-bones setting. At the two Jim's Burger Haven locations in the northern suburbs, you'll get "a square meal on a round bun." Grandpa's Burger Haven is "number one on the big bun" on Federal Boulevard; and Crown Burgers on South Colorado Boulevard states, "You've tried the rest. Now try the best."
National groups like Shake Shack and In-N-Out Burger are entering the burger battle in Colorado, but neighborhood burger shacks — like Snarfburger in Boulder (which will soon open a second at 2535 Federal Boulevard) — are getting harder and harder to find. So spotting the bright orange and red building advertising burgers, fries and shakes under the name Big Sky Burger at 1958 South Garrison Street in Lakewood was a welcome surprise.
Big Sky is tucked behind a U-Haul lot just off West Jewell Avenue, not exactly a high-traffic area. But the little eatery has all the hallmarks of an instant classic: loud colors, picnic tables for customers who spill out of the tiny indoor dining space, soft-serve ice cream and cheap prices, since a quarter-pound cheeseburger can be had for about $6.50 — which, astoundingly, includes fries.
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Big Sky Burger is owned by Piggin' Out Smokehouse, located less than two miles away at 9987 Morrison Road. Piggin' Out is little more than a shack itself, but expanded earlier this year to offer indoor seating for diners looking to stay a while. Both the burger joint and Piggin' out are owned and operated by a small group of friends — Zack Anderson, Nick and Faith Blank, and Trent and Jenye Carrier.
At Big Sky, you'll find quarter-pound and half-pound burgers that you can dress as you wish, plus a number of specialty burgers that range from classic (mushroom and Swiss) to craveable (fried avocado, egg and bacon) to just a little goofy (green chile, caramelized onions and Frito crumbles). A few other sandwiches and hot dogs can also be had, as well as shakes, which you can order with a homemade brownie blended in. Hand-cut fries can be ugraded to "fancy" for an extra dollar (with truffle-rosemary or garlic-parmesan seasoning), or you can opt for sweet-potato fries or fried onion petals.
The space was most recently occupied by Buck's Barbecue & Grill, which closed at the beginning of 2018. Big Sky took over in March before closing again to take care of issues with the building before relaunching with a grand opening in July.
Oh, and the all-important slogan? Big Sky keeps it simple: "No BS."