Best of Denver

The Ten Most Iconic Burgers in Metro Denver

So close, you can almost taste it.
So close, you can almost taste it. Danielle Lirette

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click to enlarge Crown Burgers is Denver's blue-collar burger joint. - WESTWORD
Crown Burgers is Denver's blue-collar burger joint.
Westword
Crown Burgers
2192 South Colorado Boulevard
303-753-9696

Quite the opposite of Crave, Crown is low-key and laid-back, hanging out on Colorado Boulevard in an inconspicuous spot for the past three decades. The quarter-pound or half-pound stacks are still a great deal, and if you're looking to get a little crazy, you can go big with the Royal, robed with sliced pastrami.

click to enlarge Grandpa's has been frying them up since 1953 on Federal Boulevard. - WESTWORD
Grandpa's has been frying them up since 1953 on Federal Boulevard.
Westword
Grandpa's Burger Haven
23 South Federal Boulevard
303-936-4463
Grandpa's Burger Haven, which opened in 1953, 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, 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.

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

There's so much history inside this signless Denver institution — the spirit of Neal Cassady, the steady guidance of the Karagas brothers who bought the place, already close to a century old, in 1970 — that the food seems almost incidental. But sink your teeth into a JCB or a Johnny Burger and all that melts away...or combines into a nostalgic swirl of memories, flavors and aromas. Denverites may worry that things will change under the new ownership, but the place is in good hands; the Newman family that purchased the bar has been part of My Brother's Bar for more than thirty years.

click to enlarge Park Burger brought comfort when comfort was needed. - WESTWORD
Park Burger brought comfort when comfort was needed.
Westword
Park Burger
1890 South Pearl Street (and other locations)
720-242-9951
In 2009, Denver was in the midst of the Great Recession; people just wanted simple comfort in a neighborhood setting — but they also wanted something new to distract them from the collapse of the housing market. That's when Park Burger entered the scene, along with food trucks and pop-up restaurants, to give an inexpensive alternative to high-end dining while still providing more amenities than the old-school burger joints. Boozy shakes, sweet-potato fries and runny yolks were the new accoutrements that made Park Burger a success. Today the place is so iconic that it's hard to believe that we ate our first Park Burger less than a decade ago.

click to enlarge Smashburger symbolizes Colorado's love for all things fast and casual. - FLICKR/5CHW4R7Z
Smashburger symbolizes Colorado's love for all things fast and casual.
Flickr/5chw4r7z
Smashburger
Multiple locations

Smashburger, founded by Tom Ryan in 2007, isn't much older than Park Burger, but took a slightly different route to iconic status since the original opened on South Colorado Boulevard. Using the counter-service model to deliver something a little more refined than fast-food fare, the company now runs some twenty locations in metro Denver and outposts in ten countries around the world. A decade after it was founded, Smashburger stands as a symbol of how Coloradans like to dine: fast and casual.
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