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1. Bun: City Bakery Denver
If the brioche buns from Michael Bortz’s seven-year-old Denver paean to crusty bread are good enough for True Food Kitchen and Marczyk’s Fine Foods‘ Burger Nights (plus the more than 50 other restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores where City Bakery delivers loaves each day), they’re certainly good enough for us too. Choose from plain, sesame, or onion.
2. Lettuce/Onion/Tomato: Oxford Gardens Farm
Earn your supper with a visit to this three-acre farm near Niwot, where after putting in a few hours as part of the Food for Work program, you’ll take home a box of produce. Dirt-averse and living near Boulder? Sign up for Oxford Gardens’ CSA.
Give One Year of 5280 for just $16.
3. Cheese: Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy
Whether you choose Haystack’s cracked pepper chèvre or chile jack or even Camembert from among the Boulder dairy’s nearly 20 varieties, you can’t go wrong.
4. Meat: Bison from Zapata Ranch
A Colorado burger calls for bison. And there may be no more respected purveyor than the sustainability-minded Zapata Ranch, which takes a largely hands-off approach to raising its 2,000-strong conservation herd near Great Sand Dunes National Park. There’s no weaning, no branding, and the only vaccine the animals receive is for brucellosis. The result is delicious meat you can also feel good about eating.
5. Bacon: Tender Belly
Proof that everything really is better with (Tender Belly) bacon: West Flanders Brewing Co. pairs it with apples, kale, and hangar steak; Comida serves Tender Belly hot dogs with its queso fundido. You put it on your Ultimate Colorado Burger.
6. Pickles: Real Dill Pickles, Habanero-horseradish
What began two years ago as a farmers’ market sensation has grown to a summertime staple. We love Real Dill Pickle’s habanero-horseradish, which gives a little kick to our already awesome Colorado Burger.
7. Ketchup: Elevation
Denver’s Aaron Wagner debuted this high-fructose-syrup-free burger topper, made from a 121-year-old family recipe, back in 2012. We’ve been dipping our fries, onion rings, and just about everything else in it ever since.
8. Mustard: Mady’s Old Tyme Beer Mustard
Equally at home atop your burger (or beside your pigs in a blanket for easy dipping), Colorado Springs-based Mady’s Old Tyme Beer Mustard has been improving your summer meats since 1982.
Is your stomach grumbling? Find dish ideas for the ultimate summer BBQ in our July issue, on newsstands now.
Follow senior editor Kasey Cordell on Twitter @KaseyCordell.