Denver's five best burgers

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Denver is a burger-loving town, and you can find excellent versions all over: beefy patties, oozing juice, coated with cheese and served on tasty rolls. The very best? The American Classic Burger at Tarbell's, which won the award for Best Burger in the Best of Denver 2011.

Although Cafe Society scribes swoon over this burger, Jonathan Shikes, Westword's Beer Man, offered a minority opinion. "I feel that to have one of Denver's best burgers, a restaurant or bar should specialize in burgers, or at least have one on the menu year-round," he said. "I don't think it's fair for an upscale restaurant to do a burger."

Shikes, all's fair in love and the war for good burgers. We appreciate good burgers wherever we find them...and we've found them in bars and burger joints, too. Witness the other four entries in our list of the town's five best burgers:

The Cherry Cricket Everyone loves the Cherry Cricket burger, a 1/3-pound patty made from freshly ground chuck, seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and cooked to temp. This succulent burger is plopped on a bun and topped any way you like it. We like it with bacon, grilled onions and white cheddar. Or peanut butter and jalapeños. Or green chile, hot Jack and an egg. Or...

Park Burger The menu at Park Burger is rife with heart-stoppingly good combinations, most of which are sure to send your cholesterol right through the roof. And while we're grateful when a companion snags bites of the ham-Swiss-and-egg laden Croque burger or the Chilango, topped with jalapeños, guac and cheddar, we have a hard time sharing the Royal with anyone, no matter how nicely we're asked. For the Royal, the burger is topped with caramelized onions, blue cheese and bacon; we add an egg for good measure.

Argyll Argyll's work with meat -- the cured variety -- earned it a Best Charcuterie nod this year, and its meat grabs Argyll a place on this list, too. Ground lamb supplements the beef in the patty, giving it a slightly more pungent flavor than the other contenders in this category. The burger plays nicely, too, with the accoutrements: spicy tomato jam, a swipe of carrot aioli, sharp, smooth Welsh cheddar and a smattering of decadent confit onions. All between a buttery potato bun.

Crave Crave may not have invented the Luther burger, which is rumored to be named for singer-songwriter Luther Vandross, but the Castle Rock shop makes one hell of a version of the sandwich. This gateway to cardiac arrest takes a hefty slab of grilled ground beef, coats it in gooey melted cheddar and tops it with crisp bacon, onions and an oozing fried egg -- and serves the whole thing between glazed donuts from LaMars, puffy with oil. As Lori Midson said when she crowned Crave's Luther one of our 100 favorite dishes, "It's a wickedly good burger that delivers fundamental pleasures -- the kind that make you want to go straight to the confessional with a satisfied smirk on your face."

By the way, Beer Man also suggests Spitfire Grill at the Thunderbird Lounge, Old School Burgers, CityGrille and Smashburger as a few of his favorites.

Have another favorite burger? Post it in the comments.

More Best Of Denver Lists: - Denver's five best restaurants for blind dates

- Top five martinis in Denver -- good, better, Best!

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