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D Bar’s towering burger is a winner. Photo by Jennifer Olson; Food styling by Eric Leskovar.

Denver’s Best Burgers

Celebrate National Burger Month with the Mile High City’s 25 tastiest beef-and-bun combos.

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Of all of May’s holidays, we must confess that we enjoy celebrating National Burger Month the most (sorry, Mom!). Meat-loving Denver has more tasty options than we can count, from hulking steak-house-style stackers to classic thin-patty versions. Our food editors ate through scores of them to find our 25 favorites in the Mile High City. We hope you’re hungry.

American Grind burger
American Grind’s sustainably sourced patties are crowned with house-made condiments and pickles. Photo by Rachel Adams.

American Grind

Everything from the pickles to the ketchup is made from scratch at this patty palace, which started off as a food truck before graduating into a brick-and-mortar stall at LoHi’s Avanti Food & Beverage last year. Top-quality ingredients—Western Daughters’ grass-finished Colorado beef, Rolling Pin Bakeshop buns, house-made condiments (and ice cream for dessert)—combine to create a delicious classic burger that you can feel good about eating. Bonus: Look out for American Grind’s first freestanding location to open in the Washington Park neighborhood sometime this winter. Avanti Food & Beverage, 3200 Pecos St.

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Bob’s Atomic Burgers

Don’t go to this greasy Golden haunt expecting high-end beef or fanciful toppings. Go for the old-fashioned burgers, which arrive without a trace of pink inside and with crisp, dark-brown edges from their time on the griddle. Oh, and did we mention the burgers start at less than $6? When you write out your order on a paper sack—the one your burger will eventually arrive at your table in—be sure to tick the box for fresh jalapeños to take your sandwich into the eponymous “atomic” realm. 1310 Ford St., Golden

Cherry Cricket

It’s pretty much Mile High law that you can’t write a best burger list and not include the Cherry Cricket. It’s one rule we’re happy to follow: The 73-year-old Cherry Creek joint still does it right, with large, thin, charred patties topped with choose-your-own ingredients spanning everything from fried onions to peanut butter, sandwiched inside massive sesame seed-flecked buns. Bonus: The Cricket’s new Ballpark location, just two blocks from Coors Field, opened last month. 2641 E. Second Ave., 303-322-7666; 2220 Blake St.,303-297-3644

Cochino Taco’s over-the-top burger is a spicy, messy delight. Photo by Marc Piscotty.

Cochino Taco

Fans of the (now-closed) Squeaky Bean’s much-lauded cheeseburger can still get a taste of the same patty magic, courtesy of proprietor Johnny Ballen, at his Englewood taqueria. The Poblano Queso burger—the only one on the menu—consists of a delightfully over-the-top combination of flat-top-crisped beef, American cheese, roasted poblanos, jalapeño crema, fluffy julienned lettuce, creamy house-made queso, and crispy bits of fried jalapeño inside a brioche bun. Eating it is a messy, decadent experience that’s worth every calorie (and potentially stained piece of clothing). 3495 S. Downing St., Englewood, 720-573-6174

D Bar’s towering burger is a winner. Photo by Jennifer Olson; Food styling by Eric Leskovar.

D Bar

Uptown’s D Bar bucks the more-is-more gourmet trend by dressing up its burger just enough to distinguish it from the herd without ruining its simple charm. The beef patty arrives on a buttered and griddled bun, topped with aïoli, a crispy nest of fried onions, and squares of cheddar and pepper jack cheese. Add one of D Bar’s seven milkshakes to your order and revel in the classic Americana combo. 494 E. 19th Ave., 303-861-4710

The Grille Prime Cheeseburger from Del Frisco’s Grille is what #lunchgoals are made of. Photo by Del Frisco’s Grille.

Del Frisco’s Grille

There’s a reason you see servers whisking lofty burgers to just about every table during the lunchtime rush at Cherry Creek’s Del Frisco’s Grille: this casual offshoot of the famed steakhouse chain does its patties justice. Choosing between the Grille Prime Cheeseburger (double patties blanketed in American cheese) or the fancier Quinn’s Filet Burger (a six-ounce, house-ground filet mignon patty plus bacon-onion jam, Gorgonzola, Gruyère, and arugula), isn’t easy, but devouring them certainly is. 100 St. Paul St., Ste 140, 303-320-8529

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Departure

Brunch at this Cherry Creek modern hot spot is a delight, with flavors like yuzu and Thai sausage making steak and eggs and the same old biscuits and gravy taste new and exciting. But it’s the brunch-only wagyu bulgogi burger we return for. Rich with sweet, mahogany sautéed onions, a runny fried egg, a slathering of funky-spicy ssamjang (like a spicy Korean barbecue sauce), and a thick beef patty, it’s a reason to get out of bed on a weekend morning. Halcyon Hotel, 249 Columbine St., 720-772-5020

Edge Restaurant & Bar

Any steakhouse worth its 7X Ranch wagyu should have a great burger on the menu—Edge Restaurant, located at the Four Seasons Hotel Denver in LoDo, certainly does. The locally raised beef is dressed with a slice of crisp pancetta, caramelized onions, melted provolone, LT, and truffle aïoli, and served with impeccable skin-on fries. Down the lunch-only beauty with a glass of wine and you’ll feel like burger royalty, indeed. Four Seasons Hotel Denver, 1111 14th St., 303-389-3050

Finley’s Pub

With its stereotypical pub decor—Irish proverbs on signs and tchotchkes everywhere; a Guinness-branded mirror behind the bar; televised sports—you might not expect much from the burger at Finley’s Pub. But the Finley Burger at this six-year-old Washington Park bar defies assumptions. The juicy patty is crowned with savory short ribs braised to an almost jam-like consistency, a strip of smoky bacon, and a flourish of rich béarnaise sauce. The burger might be fancier than its surroundings, but it still pairs perfectly with a pint (or two).375 S. Pearl St., 303-282-4790

Larkburger

What do you get when a classically trained chef takes on a casual burger chain? You get Larkburger. Although the brand has grown to 14 locations since its start in Edwards 12 years ago, co-founder (and Wolfgang Puck alum) Thomas Salamunovich maintains the attention to detail that initially put Larkburger on the elevated-fast-food map: antibiotic-free Black Angus beef; homemade sauces; healthy cooking oils; and sustainable packaging. The Larkburger, adorned simply with LTO, pickles, and the house lemon-dijon sauce, will please traditionalists, while the truffle burger, with truffle-scented aïoli, offers a gourmet twist. Multiple locations

Meadowlark Kitchen

More is more when it comes to the burger at RiNo’s three-and-a-half-year-old Meadowlark Kitchen. Its towering creation is a feat of food architecture, with toppings of Irish cheddar sauce, jalapeño confit, candied bacon, a thick onion ring, and a poached egg, too. Squish it all together, let the egg yolk run down, and dig in—extra napkins required. 2705 Larimer St., 303-953-1815

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My Brother’s Bar

Frankly, the JCB—or jalapeño cream-cheese burger—has no business being as tasty as it is. Denver’s oldest saloon doesn’t dabble in artisan ingredients or fancy add-ons. It does, however, apply its magical mix of chopped chiles and cream cheese in a shocking quantity to the top bun of this burger, resulting in a rich, spicy, messy delight. 2376 15th St., 303-455-9991

Next Door Eatery’s 50/50 burger swaps half of the meat for cremini mushrooms—to deliciously juicy effect. Photo courtesy of Next Door.

Next Door

Is it crazy to recommend swapping half of the meat in your burger for chopped cremini mushrooms? Not if you’re at Next Door, that local chain of do-good eateries. In its 50/50 Burger, the fungi boost the dry-aged, Colorado black Angus beef’s umami, keeping the patty so delectable that the Swiss cheese and balsamic onions on top almost seem like lily-gilding. Multiple locations

Park Burger

Since the launch of the original Park Burger location near the University of Denver nine years ago, the local casual eatery has grown into a five-location (if you include Park & Co.) mini-chain that’s still an enduring favorite for burger-loving Denverites. The combination of Harris Ranch beef, local Aspen Baking Company buns, creamy-tangy homemade burger sauce, and fun toppings (such as the Croque’s combo of ham, Swiss cheese, and a runny egg) make these burgers endlessly satisfying. Multiple locations

The Populist

Although the menu at the Populist changes with the seasons, one thing you can always count on: the Colorado grass-fed burger. This beauty, which has been on the menu for five years, gives the genre an upscale update via gooey Taleggio cheese, caramelized onions, eight ounces of beef from Carbondale’s Crystal River Meats, a buttery Grateful Bread Co. bun, and a side of garlic-confited fingerling potatoes. 3163 Larimer St., 720-432-3163,

Root Down DIA

Forget Ambien, edibles, or pre-flight martinis: The Aspen Ridge “Never Ever” (meaning no hormones, animal by-products, or antibiotics) beef burger at Root Down DIA is our nap-inducing travel ritual of choice. Only available at the airport location of the Edible Beats concept, this burger features a juicy patty, bronzed pretzel bun, local Tender Belly bacon, aged cheddar, and Sriracha mayo. It’s so delicious that we’ve considered driving out to DIA just to get our hands on it.Denver International Airport, 8500 Peña Blvd., Concourse C, 303-342-6959

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Royal Rooster

If you prefer the squishy buns and thin patties of fast-food-style burgers, go to Old Major’s lunchtime alter ego, Royal Rooster. For his Double Double Burger, chef-owner Justin Brunson griddles a blend of chuck, tenderloin, rib-eye, and brisket to perfect medium-rare, then covers it in American cheese, mayo-based special sauce, caramelized onions, and pickles. Served on toasted Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe potato rolls, it majorly improves on the drive-thru version. 3316 Tejon St., 720-420-0622

Satchel’s on Sixth

Cozy is the perfect way to describe Satchel’s on 6th, a word that encompasses the warm living-room-like decor of the seven-year-old Country Club spot, its friendly staff, and the way you’ll feel after inhaling its wonderful house burger. We prefer it cooked to medium rare so the savory juices mingle with the Gruyère, sauce, house-made pickles, house-smoked pork belly, and crispy onions on top. Offset by Satchel’s notoriously addictive duck fat fries, it’s a combo that’ll make you feel right at home. 1710 E. Sixth Ave., 303-399-2560

The Colorado-only Green Chile Cheddarshack at RiNo’s Shake Shack. Photo by Callie Sumlin.

Shake Shack RiNo

Though it may be a divisive transplant chain restaurant, Larimer Street’s Shake Shack is one of the only crinkle cut fry purveyors in town—why are there not more ridged spuds in Denver?!—and its burgers fit well into the Smashburger genre of crisp, caramelized patties and proportional toppings on squishy buns. The Colorado-only Green Chile CheddarShack, with its tangy-sweet-spicy marinated chiles and cheddar, also might not be what you’re accustomed to, but it’s a damn tasty burger nonetheless. 2995 Larimer St., 720-543-8609

Smashburger

Denver has its share of fast-casual burger chains (see Larkburger, Park Burger, Tap and Burger), and we think Smashburger is one of the best. The beef patties, which are smashed and caramelized on a buttered flat-top grill, are always well-seasoned and juicy, and the ratio of toppings to bun to beef is executed with scientific precision. And sprinkling french fries with rosemary and garlic is a finger-licking-good move that renders ketchup obsolete. Multiple locations

Stanley Beer Hall’s classic burger took home top honors at the 2017 Denver Burger Battle. Photo by Evan Semón Photography.

Stanley Beer Hall

When this beer-centric eatery closed temporarily for a remodel earlier this year, we were afraid that the signature Stanley cheeseburger might not make it onto the revamped menu. Those fears were unfounded, and the sandwich—which took home top honors at the 2017 Denver Burger Battle—is as glorious and satisfying as ever. The classic double-patty stacker is accented with grilled onions, Russian dressing, and tangy pickles; now you can pair it with a brew, cider, or wine from the 37-tap, pour-it-yourself system. Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St., Aurora, 720-990-6743

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A fantastic burger—at a seafood restaurant? Stoic & Genuine’s double-patty beauty will make you a believer. Photo by Adam Larkey.

Stoic & Genuine

Ordering a cheeseburger at a seafood joint is ludicrous—unless you’re eating lunch at Stoic & Genuine. Its half-pound, double-patty beauty is everything we want in a burger: Colorado Certified Angus Beef, ground into a 75 percent lean to 25 percent fat ratio for juiciness and flavor; a soft Grateful Bread Co. bun; local lettuce, tomato, and red onion; and good ol’ American cheese. (Oysters on the half shell are an appropriate side, we think.) Union Station, 1701 Wynkoop St., 303-640-3474

TAG Burger Bar

This oldie-but-goodie neighborhood joint is consistently packed, and we know why: You can build your own burger, starting with a choice of beef, turkey, bison, veggie, or salmon patties; there are five kinds of french fries, from sweet potato to green-chile-smothered; and adults can order spiked milkshakes. The Godzilla, our favorite signature burger, is an umami-bomb no matter which patty you pick, topped with teriyaki sauce, butter lettuce, shiitakes, smoky kewpie mayo, and fried tempura crunchies. 1222 Madison St., 303-736-2260

Tap & Burger

The Shroom Luva’s burger at this home-grown mini chain has racked up scores of accolades over the years, and for good reason. The umami-bomb combo of the succulent beef patty, sautéed mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and truffle aïoli—topped off with an optional $12 add-on of salt-cured foie gras—is every bit as opulent as it sounds. Highland Tap & Burger, 2219 W. 32nd Ave., 720-287-4493, highlandtapdenver.com; Sloan’s Lake Tap & Burger, 1565 N. Raleigh St., #100, 720-456-6779

West End Tap House

While the attentive service, strong beer selection, and plethora of televisions make Berkeley’s West End Tap House an ideal game-day destination, the Colorado natural burger is tasty enough to warrant a visit on its own. The hulking, half-pound patty is perfectly seasoned and run-down-your-elbows juicy, making accoutrements such as Gruyère, thick-cut bacon, and guacamole feel rather unnecessary. 3945 Tennyson St., 303-433-4759

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