It’s fair to say that 2008 is the year of the burger. For proof, look around you. In the last several months we’ve seen SmashBurger open and branch out, followed by Virginia-based Five Guys, Colorado Burgers, and now Santa Monica-based The Counter. Each spot has its own delicious spin. Here’s a quick rundown.

• SmashBurger: Fresh, never-frozen, certified Angus beef patties, a selection of buns, and toppings that range from guacamole to a fried egg. Best bite: Mushroom Swiss burger. Five metro-area locations.

• Five Guys: Speedy eats in the vein of In-N-Out Burger. Fresh, never-frozen patties, plus hot dogs and grilled cheese. Best bite: Little cheeseburger. 2300 S. Parker Road, Aurora, 303-751-7449; additional outposts are planned for Colorado Springs, Highlands Ranch, Fort Collins, and Longmont.

• Colorado Burgers: Choose from certified Black Angus beef, buffalo, chicken, or a kosher hot dog, then customize with more than 30 toppings and sauces. Best bite: the Hombre bison burger with cheese and green chile sauce. 4930 S. Yosemite St., Greenwood Village, 303-770-4024

• The Counter: An industrial, retro vibe and a menu offering huge patties made of freshly ground Angus beef, chicken, or turkey, all raised on a vegetarian diet without hormones or antibiotics. Toppings–there are supposedly more than 312,120 different burger combinations here–include Gruyère, dried cranberries, honey-cured bacon, and spicy sour cream. Best bite: The Counter burger with provolone, fried onions, sautéed mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, and sun-dried tomato vinaigrette. 8439 Park Meadows Center Dr., Lone Tree, 303-790-9630

Bonus: Sedalia’s ever-popular Bud’s Bar burger gets a nod from Serious Eats.

Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.