Denver Burger Battle: The meat of the matter in photos

Aside from the vegetarian burgers from Root Down, which, ironically, were the first to sell out, last night's porny Denver Burger Battle was a carnivorous animal-style nirvana of bloody meat candy, bacon and foie gras. The sold-out soiree pitted twelve restaurants, all of which hustle burgers in one guise or another, against one another in a (mostly) friendly competition that was judged by hordes of public mouths and four local chefs -- Kelly Liken, Alex Seidel, Justin Brunson and Jeff Osaka.

The winners? Take a look through our foodography to find out which burgers smoked out all the others.

Troy Guard and the team from TAG, which earned second place from the judges and the public, served kangaroo-and-duck-fat burgers topped with heirloom tomatoes, smoked tomato aioli, Munster and bibb lettuce on a potato bun. TAG's heirloom tomatoes. Argyll/Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar's Colorado lamb and beef burger paved with English cheddar, house-cured bacon, heirloom tomatoes, red leaf lettuce and a buttermilk-jalapeno onion ring. Park Burger's Croque burger, which earned first place from the judges (for the second year in a row), came crowned with a fried egg, baby Swiss, uncured rosemary ham and burger sauce on a potato bun. HBurger's patties were topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, Hatch green chiles, smoked cheddar, sweet-and-spicy bacon and red-pepper jam. Crave, a great burger barn in Castle Rock, was awarded third place by the public for its "Dim Sum Daffy" burger skyscraped with ropes of roasted duck, a spread of ginger-garlic cream cheese, crispy wontons, roasted red peppers, avocado, lettuce, onion and hoisin sauce. Still running on adrenaline from the night before, the crew from Euclid Hall, which just celebrated its first birthday, served the "Loco Moco," a mini Kobe short rib burger festooned with housemade kielbasa coins, kimchi and foie gras mousse on a toasted English muffin. The Cherry Cricket's burger was simple: nothing more than blackening seasoning and a scoop of jalapeno cream cheese. Apparently the meat-centric Denver Burger Battle attracted more than a few herbivores, because the chefs from Root Down ran out of their vegetarian burgers more than an hour before the competition was over. Bummer. The burger from Elway's Cherry Creek was topped with an egg-and-bacon salad, house-pickled relish and housemade hot sauce aioli. Fry-baby Sean Kelly, who's working alongside Frank Bonanno at Green Russell and Russell's Smokehouse -- and still has ownership in LoHi Steakbar and Ernie's -- made a rare appearance last night at the Denver Burger Battle. LoHi Steakbar's house-ground burger, made with chuck, and served with crisp fries, came stacked with red onions, bacon, tomatoes, blue cheese and lettuce. The Berkshire's Kobe beef burger, stuffed with Cherry Coke-braised short ribs, was supercharged with truffled caramelized onions, bacon, crisp onion slivers and Vermont white cheddar. According to the public vote, the "shroom" burger from Highland Tap & Burger, topped with mushrooms, Swiss, truffled aoili and shaved foie gras, was the best burger of the night; the judges awarded it third place. Denver Burger Battle judges Alex Seidel (Fruition and Fruition Farms); Kelly Liken (Restaurant Kelly Liken); Jeff Osaka (twelve); and Justin Brunson (Wild Catch and Masterpiece Deli).

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