Two weeks ago, my family and I cruised into Salida for a quick getaway. The water-obsessed city—the Arkansas River flows right through town—is roughly three-hours away from Denver by car, which is just far-flung enough to feel like you’ve really gotten away.

As we drove down Rainbow Boulevard (Highway 50) to our hotel, I began shouting when I saw a bright yellow sign for 50 Burger in what was once a Burger King. Normally, I don’t get that excited about a ground-beef patty, but this was cause for celebration.

One of my few complaints about Salida is that many of the hotels are located on Highway 50, but the town’s heart is more than a mile away. When we were younger, my husband and I didn’t mind the walk to go grab dinner. But with a kiddo who’s just a bit too big for a stroller but too small to walk two miles after a day spent hiking, we longed for a non-fast-food-chain eatery nearer to our hotel room. Thus, my excitement at finding a kid-friendly option down the street.

The new restaurant—it just opened last month—was so good we ate there two nights in a row. The patties are made with freshly ground beef and served on challah buns. Burger traditionalists will devour the Fifty, a classic patty with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and a house-made pickle, but I’m keen on the Bonfire (pictured), a towering pile of onion rings, fried jalapeños, blue cheese, and red chile sauce on top of a beef patty, which comes with a heaping pile of fries.

The space does still bear the marks of its past Burger King life—the floor tiles haven’t changed and you still order at the counter—but the wooden bar set against one wall offers craft beer options for adults and spoon-bending milkshakes so thick and creamy they couldn’t be mass produced. The result is a spot where kids can break into dance, eat a hot dog, and slurp on a shake while you sip on a craft brew and contemplate just how you’re going to cram a nearly foot-tall burger into your mouth. That’s a good Friday night.

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Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner is a Denver-based writer and the former Articles Editor for 5280.