"Best Burger in Denver."
That's what it says on the signs, banners, website and advertising for CityGrille. Best burger in Denver, as voted on by just about anyone with an opinion on such things. I've been one of the lone holdouts, refusing to lend my name to the deafening chorus of cheers for CityGrille's burgers, obstinately insisting that there are better burgers to be had in this city.
This isn't to say that CityGrille's burgers aren't good. Because they are — very good. Half-pounders, made of very beefy 80/20 chuck (an ideal burger-making blend, as noted in this week's Bite Me), cooked a bloody mid-rare and mounted on a soft, almost focaccia-like bun. In fact, I wouldn't hesitate for a second to say that these burgers are among the best in town. That they are one of the best a man can buy.
But the absolute, hands-down best? Nuh-uh. No matter how many times I go to CityGrille and no matter how many burgers I have there, I am always left wanting something more — some ethereal edge of excellence that I can feel this burger chasing and missing by a hair's breadth every time. In order to qualify as my Best Burger, a burger has to immediately grab me, shake me and let me know that it simply doesn't get better than this. And that's something that the CityGrille burger has never quite done.
Then again, there are CityGrille's fries and green chile — which I've readily given awards to before. And to put these two things together — as I did on last Friday's turn through CityGrille's crowded and clubby dining room, as I have done on nearly every visit I've ever made to the place — beside a burger makes a plate that comes very close to that ideal meal. Add a couple of fingers of top-shelf whiskey from the bar and a financial crisis on the TV making all the businessmen on the floor weep into their chicken-fried steak, and what you've got are the makings for a great night — even if it might not quite qualify as the best.