Crave Real Burgers reinvents the hamburger

The recent Denver Burger Battle was more than just a sandwich showdown: The event was a snapshot of just how much the burger has evolved since its classic incarnation -- ground-beef patty on a bun -- became ubiquitous in the United States.

Because while several of the burgers in the competition played on classic bacon and cheese toppings, albeit in sexed-up forms, some contestants didn't even use beef, substituting kangaroo, lamb or all-vegetarian ingredients in its place. Others featured tricked-out toppings, complementing the meat with foie gras, Hatch green chiles or kimchi. And Crave Real Burgers, in Castle Rock, had one of the craziest hamburgers of all, landing a third place nod from the public for its Dim Sum Daffy: a patty piled with roasted duck, ginger-garlic cream cheese, hoisin sauce, red peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, onion and a wonton chip.

Intrigued by Crave's use of the hamburger as the foundation for a different flavor profile entirely, I made my way down to Castle Rock for this week's review, checking out the dozens of burgers that Jeff Richard has put together at his restaurant, very few of which feature topping combinations I've seen before. The restaurant's Burger Battle entry may have been one of the most non-traditional creations in the competition, but several dishes on the Crave menu make it look conservative.

How were the reinvented hamburgers? Find out tomorrow when the review is posted here.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk