Exclusive first look: Madison Street becomes TAG Burger Bar beginning tomorrow

Tagburgermural1.jpg
Lori Midson

In April of last year, Troy Guard, owner of TAG and TAG Raw Bar in Larimer Square, became an operating partner of Madison Street, a Congress Park neighborhood restaurant and lounge that Joe Vostrejs, COO of Larimer Associates, took over in the fall of 2010. The space, a former Dominos Pizza, didn't come easy, thanks to a vocal minority who, incredulously, were concerned that a new joint from one of the most successful restaurant groups in town -- a restaurant that would replace a big-name lackluster chain -- would somehow sully the vibrant enclave that already thrives with merchants, bars and restaurants.

See also:

- Troy Guard becomes an operating partner of Madison Street

Not surprisingly, Vostrejs and his team prevailed, and Madison Street quickly found its niche, offering a relaxed oasis in which to grab a burger and a beer with friends. And the burgers, which Vostrejs described as "killer" when I interviewed him last year, took off, in part thanks to Guard, who, despite his Asian focus at TAG and TAG Raw Bar, makes some of the best burgers in the city, including ones that defy tradition; his kangaroo burger, for example, is in a league of its own.

And Vostrejs and Guard, who have been around the block enough times to know what diners want in their bellies, came to the conclusion that the Congress Park 'hood liked burgers, and last month, they made the decision to transition from Madison Street to TAG Burger Bar, which will debut tomorrow. "Madison Street was doing great," says Guard, "but the investors and I looked at what was selling, and what was selling the most was burgers, so we wanted to concentrate on what our guests wanted -- plus I've always wanted to do a burger joint," he adds.

But this isn't your run-of-the-mill meat market. The burgers -- classic beef, lamb, bison, turkey, housemade veggie or Skuna Bay salmon -- are served with either a Bluepoint Bakery bun or naked, with butter lettuce, and they're topped with everything from burrata to green papaya slaw. And the classic beef burger is a proprietary blend of brisket, chuck and short rib created exclusively for the restaurant.

But it's the Andrew Jackson burger -- a showstopper that arrives crowned with house-cured pork belly, a fried egg, truffled aioli mustard-vinegar slaw, bone-marrow salt and crisp chicken skin -- that will undoubtedly turn heads. Leave it to Guard, who's renowned for thinking way beyond the ordinary, to create something extraordinary, and vegetarians might say the same thing about the meatless burger, an offbeat -- and delicious -- blend of chick peas, edamame beans, red onions, oregano, tahini and quinoa that may even persuade carnivores to forgo meat, at least temporarily.

And he didn't stop there: The menu also boasts baked potatoes, which you can get traditionally "loaded" or topped with the same ingredients that crown the burgers. There's the "Godzilla," for example, a combination of teriyaki sauce, shiitake mushrooms, crisped tempura flakes and smoked kewpi, or the "Ménage à trois" with Gruyere, French onion soup "onions" and Grey Poupon. Essentially, "you pick your protein, your packaging -- bun or lettuce -- and your style, which can also be loaded on a burger or a baked potato," says Guard, whose menu also includes house-brined pickles, housemade kimchi and several variations of fries, one of which comes strewn with Cheez Whiz and pico de gallo.


Location Info

Map

Madison Street - CLOSED

1222 Madison St., Denver, CO

Category: Music


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12 comments
DenverNeighbor
DenverNeighbor

My wife and I just tried to have lunch at TAG Burger Bar. We were truly looking forward to the experience. We arrived, were given menus and drinks, then waited 15 minutes for the return if our server. We waved at him as he served others, tried a shout out, then decided that it was no longer worth the attempt - we needed to get back to work. We are disappointed and wish them luck with the new place - we likely won't be back.

MadisonNeighbor
MadisonNeighbor

Maybe the writer of this artical should do a little homework first. the space was not Dominos Pizza but a 7-11 for years, one of the first in Denver, then vacant for years then a dance studio and vacant again for years. the Domino was around the cornor were the new bike shop is. I live just a short 1 bock from the resturant and have only gone 5 times since the opening of Madison Street and TAG burger Bar. Service bad, food ok. It tried to be a neighborhood place from the start but they did not really apprecated the neighbors business. Service was alway BAD, even after Troy took over. A real neighborhood gem is Shells and Sauce down the street on Elizabeth. Troy should visit them to see what a real neighbor restaurant should be like. Why do owners think young and hip makes good wait staff. Maybe bring in a few seasoned waitstaffers and the neighborhood would hang out. Sorry this is so long but maybe it's time for a wake up. Go 3 blocks north on Madison and find Bastien's with great food, service and wonderful prices. Congess Park is a great neighborhood, Tag Burger bar is not worthy of this neighborhood!!

IronyDiscovered
IronyDiscovered

Aye Aye Aye! That wall... MY EYES! Nothing says come in and fill up like brightly colored graffiti all over the place. The Halloween decorations for a press release are a nice touch too! BOO! Seeing as how they dont appear to have changed the layout either... what with all of the booths facing west for some reason, it'll be hard to avoid.

JasonL5
JasonL5

I worked for troy or 2 years and he is a dick, and this place looks reflects that Troy egomaniacal ways have led him to believe that he is an interior designer as well as a chef.  That or his girlfriends Hair Colorist thought this would be as pretty as her mop.He should stick to cooking.

BabyBoy.

joe016
joe016

Man, Madison Street had a kickass brunch. Hope they continue it under the new name.

Wherethefrogbro
Wherethefrogbro

Nice mural Troy, its looks like someone vomited on the walls, congrats

justwantagoodburger
justwantagoodburger

I was excited for this until I saw the pictures. That mural clashes horribly with the interior. The salad in tiny (hopefully it's a freebie that comes with the burger but I have a feeling there's a $3-4 pricetag on it). Hot french fries in a glass = steamy, soggy mess (what chef doesn't see that?). Tiny burger with a ton of stuff on it reeks of upcharge. I'm bored and broke just from reading this preview.

tim_s
tim_s

I can’t wait to try the cult of third person-ality burger.

The_Hick
The_Hick

How bout a comment about what a dick Troy Guard is and how that wall looks like someone trying really hard to be cool?

Elwood
Elwood

Ohhhhh, a comment about the number of burger joints in town.  How original.

Philo99
Philo99

Ohhhhhh a Burger Bar. How orginal. We don't have any of those in town.

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