Denver's five best burgers

Thumbnail image for Tarbell cheeseburger.jpg
Lori Midson
The American Classic Burger at Tarbell's.
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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48 comments
car vehicle dvr
car vehicle dvr

I have an east coast and a west coast winner. I will start with the East and finish with the West because I am from the West. The Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern is simple mouth watering. No sauce necessary. I need this in my mouth right now. Perfection in the form of a burger.

Guest
Guest

Best burgers are not available in CO

In & Out

Teamodog
Teamodog

the best burgers I have found are at Jim's Burger Haven, and at Mustard's Last Stand.

Bernard
Bernard

Am not sure what you see in Park Burger. Went to the Highland Location on March 6 and ordered the Park Burger. It was served up promptly, but what the cooks did to the meat should have been reported to PETA! I received a partially cooked, extremely salty patty that had the consistency of paste. This patty was placed on a stale soggy bun with average toppings. It was the worst burger I’ve ever eaten. To top things off, the staff was unprofessional at best!

I could name a lot better burgers in the Denver metro area:

• Billy’s Inn• Bud’ Bar• Cherry Cricket• City Grille• Crane Hollow Café (Hygiene)• Mead Street Station• My Brother’s Bar• Smashburger• Turley’s (Boulder)• Vine Street Pub

Even McDonald’s does a better burger than Park Burger!

Bandelier
Bandelier

Big fan of the Highland Tavern burgers. Melt in your mouth delicious.

Digi Jeff
Digi Jeff

Try this place called Bud's Bar it's easily top 5 best places (personally #1 for me) it's located in sedalia next to sedalia bar and grill

SmokingLoon
SmokingLoon

At least I don't have to worry about any of you messing with my burger and whiskey at My Brother's Bar!

Mathewsm10
Mathewsm10

The fact that Old school burger even gets a mention voids this article of much legitimacy. Even though i agree with many of the noted establishments, old school burger is a 1/2 step better that burger king And while 5 guys has a great burger their fries SUCK. ANY fries that are not properly blanched are not worth even eating. Even fast food places do this correctly, so not sure why some established "burger" joints haven't figured it out.

Cricket makes a great burger and if you don't like it, then you don't understand that GREASE is essential for a good burger. Best burger was not even mentioned - MY BROTHERS BAR!!

ANG
ANG

H-Burger surely beats Park Burger hands down...I haven't tried the other places...

me too
me too

Good list. I agree with the ones that I have tried on it. Love the Argyll burger and first had it at the Denver Burger Battle last year. They took second. I like the Cricket burger but also agree with a previous comment that it could be the libations talking...

Misanthrope
Misanthrope

My house. Marczyk's meat, seasoned both sides let stand for 25 minutes at room temperature. Cast iron skillet slicked with peanut oil to the smoke point. 3 to 4 minutes a side, covered. Sharp Cheddar (on the meat, covered, after flipping). 8 paper thin slices of tomato (use a boning knife). Bread & butter pickles, mayo, maybe Muir Glen Ketchup. Bun either brioche or cornmeal dusted San Francisco burger bun, wrapped in foil and warmed in the oven.

Favorite beer in a glass from the freezer. Tater tots, crispy.

Bonuses: house smells like frying burger for 6 hours, no distracting jackasses around.

I'll never order a burger in a restaurant again.

What? you'll text instead of making a call, or call instead of a face-to-face visit but you won't make a burger at home because you're alone? That is what is wrong with America. Invite a friend. I guarantee they'll stay your friend just for your burger long after you've become insufferable. Take it from someone who knows.

HanibalL
HanibalL

Grandview Inn in Arvada has the best hamburgers in town. Nothing else compares to these gems.

Samuel Wells
Samuel Wells

A few left out: the Wimpy at Pint's Pub. I love to drink a pint or two of the Gael Force Scottish Ale and eat with friends. It's a wonderful place.

The JCB at My Brother's Bar.

Whatever burger is on the daily specials menu at Vine St. Pub.

And Griff's, most certainly.

joey b
joey b

The ongoing love for the Cricket is a bigger mystery to me than all those years that Taco Bell kept winning reader's choice for 'best taco' in WW Best of Denver. Average at best. No love for HBurger? It only won people's choice in a landslide at Burger Battle last year. No Buds But a burger on a DOUGHNUT in Castle Rock makes the list? Buds was only WW best burger last year (or maybe year before?). Actually the doughnut burger makes much more sense than Cricket. I love Larkburger too and can't wait for the new spot to open. Also, Poodick let me beat you to it; I'm a fucking yuppie. Suck it.

Leapofaith2
Leapofaith2

Everybody has missed the mark...Rackhouse Pub has by far the best burgers in Denver. By far!

Jessehall
Jessehall

A damn shame that Bud's is not on this list. And Griff's definitely for a fast food burger

5280MAN
5280MAN

Bull and Bush with great beer to boot.

davebarnes
davebarnes

When I ate at Home (now Tarbell's), the $11 burger did NOT include fries.

Stealth2
Stealth2

Good gravy, Cherry Cricket (along with H Burger) is the most overrated burger in Denver. If you have to put a ton of crap on a burger to make it a "great" burger, then it's not a good burger. Cherry Cricket burgers are a decent burger with a beer, at best.

And what's wrong with a "gourmet" restaurant doing a burger. That's not some sort of guarantee of a good burger. Many of them go overboard with truffle slices and crap that ruin the burger.

Among the places I've visited, Park Burger leads the pack, followed by Encore (is that too upscale) and maybe Deluxe or CityGrille on a good day.

A.J
A.J

hey what about Griffs burgers on S.Broadway right by I-25 has all the tenets of a great burger joint,burgers with just the right amount of grease,toasted buns,shredded lettuce,great fries and cheap to boot,nothing like chowing down on a monster burger,just before going to rock out at the HI-Dive,Three Kings or Skylark,takes me back to my high school days when I first discovered this place before using my fake I.D to try to get into 7 south,ahhh memories!!!!

Dough2000boy
Dough2000boy

I agree with Mantonat on Larkburger. Delish burger, and it's local. I can't wait until they open the first Denver location in Wash Park. (Very soon, I hear!). As for restuarant burgers, I don't ever recall anything but a great experience with a Cherry Cricket burger but have to wonder whether that's the libations talking or is it really the burger?

Mytraveltogo
Mytraveltogo

Diego Zhangs at the Streets at Southglenn knocks all of these out of the park!!!!!

erica
erica

CROWNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN BURGERRRRRRRRRRRR & JIM'S BURGER HAVEN ! BOTH AMAZING AND BEEN AROUND FOR YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS

Hucklebery60
Hucklebery60

If you want the best hands down simple burger there is you got to go with BUD's. The word burger comes up and that place should always be in the top 5. Also the Highland Tavern and there Stupid Burger. Someone needs to make the 50/50 burger like out in CA, 50% chuck and 50% bacon ground together now I want to try that burger!!!! Does anyone in town serve one like that now. Also the stuffed burgers at the Irish place on Broadway and Ellsworth are money!

Jon S
Jon S

Providence Tavern in Edgewater is my favorite right now. They do things pretty straightforward with a simple list of toppings. But they always get the patty cooked just right, with just the right amount of juice and grease. If you get cheese, it's always melted perfectly, and the light toasting of the bun sends it over the top. It's just a really well put together burger.

I've only been to Highland Tap & Burger twice, but I've been really impressed so far with their lineup.

Five Guys has pretty good fries, but I can't believe anyone would seriously suggest their burgers are anywhere near the best in town.

eldaveablo
eldaveablo

Jack N Grill has some pretty crazy burgers.

And seriously, no mention of Bud's either in the article or comments?

Notmyemail
Notmyemail

Larkburger is a huge miss. Any chain should be automatically DQ'd (unless In & Out was here). Cricket is marginal at best. Elway's in CC should be on this list as well...

Jeremy Kossler
Jeremy Kossler

If only there existed some food event where the best burger places got together in one spot and served tastes of their burgers to the public. Then we would know!

Dawn
Dawn

Mmm... Cherry Cricket!I also really like Highland Tap and Burger. And Brasserie Ten Ten in Boulder - yum!

doug
doug

Five Guys Burger and fries!!!!! why is old school burgers on the suggested list, its no where near Five Guys. Also try Freddy's, its amazing and with the shoe string fries you cant go wrong. Seems like all the burgers on the above list are adding ingredients that make a high end burger, if you want a normal old great burger go to Five Guys.

Klyph
Klyph

Not having Hamburger Mary's on this list is criminal. CRIMINAL I SAY!!!

bgreen
bgreen

No...not everyone like the Cherry Cricket. It's mediocre at best.

Mantonat
Mantonat

Larkburger. Larkburger. Larkburger. Maybe they don't offer enough fatty toppings for everyone (no bacon, no egg, no avocado). Maybe not everyone likes their patty cooked to a perfect pink. But honestly, Larkburger makes far and away the best burger in the city and they do it with minimalist bravado. They are the only burger place that tells you what internal temperature they cook their burgers to. And they get it right every time. Everyone I know who has eaten there is instantly converted on first bite. My father, who's in his mid-seventies, said it was the best burger he'd ever had in a restaurant.

Eligain
Eligain

Denver used to have some very good burger joints that weren't pretentious, over-rated, over-priced gimmicks. The best was "The Barrel (Humpty Dumpty's)". Also great was "The Scotchman", "Rockybuilt", "Griffs", "Hue's Drive-In", and just about any non-chain coffee shop. Sadly, only Griffs remains. Another more recent favorite was, "Goodberrys"who was doing "Smashburgers" before they were even thought of by SB.

My current favs are "Bud's", "Old Capital Grill" (Golden), "Gunther Toody's" (Arvada local only), and "Cherry Creek Grill" (I know it's trendy and way over priced but it's an excellent meld of flavors on perfectly seasoned "loose" beef).

Hucklebery60
Hucklebery60

The Griff's on Broadway is terrible I've tried that one twice and the burger was old like it was already precooked and then thrown on the grill to warm it up,now the Griff's up on 52nd and Ralston now that is a different story.

Bandelier
Bandelier

Have eaten at the Providence Tavern twice, never tried the burger. Both times, the food was beyond horrid. I wouldn't serve their chicken wings to my dead freezer cat, and the chili cheese dogs were apparently made out of dogs who had recently consumed a can of van de camps "chili and cheese".

thespot84
thespot84

Call it CO pride but good times is better than In & Out.

Lori Midson
Lori Midson

I'm fairly certain that such an event exists. What's it called? Oh, yeah, the Denver Burger Battle!

Poodick
Poodick

best burgers and fries in denver!

Wimpy
Wimpy

Wrong. Having the word "hamburger" in your name while serving that thing they try to pass off as a hamburger is criminal.

Worst. Burger. Ever.

Poodick
Poodick

your an idiot man, cherry cricket is hands town top 3 burger in denver. breakfast burger is all i need to say. you prob like larkburger too you fucking yuppie

DrDrakeRemoray
DrDrakeRemoray

I have eaten there twice...not converted at all.

Poodick
Poodick

Fuck larkburger. This place sucks, those skinny ass things you call fries suck and it took them almost half an hour to make two burgers when the place wasnt even busy. fuck them, five guys is way better. Your father is fucking old ass shit what would he know about a good burger? he prob thinks golden carrol is good. You sound like a yuppie too, who gives a fuck about the temp. of the burger as long as its cooked how you want and taste good. Fuck larkburger and their food and the yuppies who eat there.

Bernard
Bernard

Still enjoy going to Griff's, both the Arvada and Broadway locations. Need to check out the Old Capital Grill. Thanks!

Wiser
Wiser

Ah, I get it now. I was trying to figure out the source of the anger in your previous posting and this five-guys posting clears it up.

You're head is stuck firmly up your ass.

Klyph
Klyph

You are clearly insane. The Barbra-Q-Bacon and the Pesto Focaccia Burgers are simply amazing. And no I do not work there.

GFTW
GFTW

LOL, fucking great comment. Patricia Calhoun will feature it tomorrow. :P Larkburger's "okay".

+1 on Smashburger-1 on Old Skool. Kinda disgusting last time I ate there, which is maybe why it closed...

Mantonat
Mantonat

If golden carrol is your mom, then I agree that she is indeed good. If you are referring to Golden Corral the restaurant, I don't know because I've never been. Otherwise, your observations are both enchanting and informative.

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