Squeaky Bean chef Theo Adley launches a new lunch menu - and the best burger in town

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All photos by Lori Midson.
Squeaky Bean's new cheeseburger is the meat to beat.

I often get asked by chefs and restaurateurs to suggest ways to separate themselves from the competition -- what they can do to stay relevant, especially in a city that's exploding with new restaurants and a swell of culinary talent. It's usually a long discussion, but if there's one piece of advice that I never stray from, it's this: Always have at least one dish on your menu that stands over -- and above -- everyone else's version of that same dish. Take the cheeseburger, for example. The number of burger joints in Denver is beyond staggering, and every place that flips a burger would have you believe that their burger is the meat to beat. I have news: The burger at the Squeaky Bean, whose kitchen is steered by Theo Adley, is the meat to beat, the boss of all burgers, the best damn burger in the city.

See also: Theo Adley will join the Squeaky Bean as exec chef

I had it for the first time yesterday, which also marked the first day of the Bean's new lunch service, an added bonus for anyone working downtown."Part of our jam is being more accessible to the neighborhood, and to diversify," says Adley. "There's a lot of daytime foot traffic down here, and adding lunch is an opportunity for people to try us out and then come back for dinner, or vice versa," he adds. Plus, he says, "It's a consistent menu with core items, so if you find something that you really love, it'll still be on the menu the next time you come in."

Like that magnificent burger, a composition of two griddled Niman Ranch, Prime-grade, lightly charred and salted beef patties, their thickness the right side of thin, painted with melted onions, American cheese that's slightly burnt from sizzling on the flattop, straps of pickles (they're from Trü, a local company) to give it a ballpark blitz, and a smear of "special sauce" that's a blend of Hellmann's mayonnaise, Heinz ketchup, Montreal Steak Seasoning, lemon juice, minced onions, razer-thin shards of cornichons and Worcestershire sauce. It's cushioned by a soft bun baked by Grateful Bread, and it's beautifully unfussy, the way a burger should be, and because it's not bastardized by a cargo of gimmicky toppings, the burger tastes like meat -- very, very good meat that, when you bite into it, leaks scarlet juices.

The burger, says Adley, a Jersey boy, was inspired by classic, old-school burger joints like White Castle and White Manna and White Mana, both of which are New Jersey diners. "It's a delicious, comforting, homey throwback to the burgers I grew up with," says Adley, who sold at least one of those burgers to every table yesterday. I suspect he sold plenty of bowls of mussels, too, their plump flesh glossed with a lemongrass-scented broth, the shells crowned with rings of fresh jalapenos. A spring salad of pea shoots, mustard seeds and housemade burrata dressed with a raspberry vinaigrette and toasted crumbs of bread for texture, was excellent, too.

The Squeaky Bean, which serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday and Bingo brunch on Sunday, offers lunch service from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday though Friday.

And honestly, that burger really is a marvel (as was Adley's fried chicken when he was the chef of the now-closed Pinyon in Boulder), and I challenge you to find one better. This is a burger will become a culinary legacy, a singularly fantastic burger that raises the bar for all others.

Get it, and make sure you try Adley's other lunch additions, too, some of which are photographed below, along with the new lunch menu.

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Location Info

Squeaky Bean

1500 Wynkoop St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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46 comments
theoadley
theoadley

Best burger in Denver. Wow, thanks Lori! I hope you all can come in to try it soon!

Vic-Stevinson
Vic-Stevinson

Claiming any dish, much less a burger is "the best damn burger in the city" has to be the biggest lie and the laziest writing mechanism.. unless Midson actually has eaten every damn burger in the city.

Jay Cismaru
Jay Cismaru

Every burger place in town needs to learn to cook the fries an extra 60 seconds

Jay Cismaru
Jay Cismaru

Grandpa's on federal is OK 5 guys are the best Smashburger second place

Jay Cismaru
Jay Cismaru

Anyone that uses a frozen patties like Griffs should not be on the list

Chris Cutting
Chris Cutting

as an area guy for Five Guys, I love (and eat a lot of) our burgers... but I can also admit that I love the breakfast burger at my local Pub on Pearl... gooey greatness every time! A hand-crafted burger that's made with care is awesome, anywhere you get it! Horray hamburgers!

Joe Martin
Joe Martin

Jack-n-Grill ...26th and Federal. ..all ther burgers are BOMB...HUGE AND GREAT PRICE

Jameson Waltz
Jameson Waltz

Park burger, Highland Tap, and Crown Burger.

Katy Martin
Katy Martin

ChiliCheese burger and fries. Jim's burger haven and McCoy's.

Tobey A Anderson
Tobey A Anderson

Crown Burger and Dougherty's Pub off the top of my head.

Dena Sue
Dena Sue

GTFO the California cult. Enough already.

Jonny G
Jonny G

Went and checked it out and it's daaaaaaaaaaamn good.

Robert Hack
Robert Hack

Rackhouse Pub has the best burger in town. By far.

Oscar Noreen
Oscar Noreen

Maybe a burger over 10$... Juicy burger is definitely one of the best in town. Their happy hour prices are 5$ for a burger and fries.

Steve Holmberg
Steve Holmberg

Impossible to be THE BEST without including rotated green chiles!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

LOL! ... the chicken looks like it's been cremated!

_____
_____

Any chance that this burger will be available outside of lunch service?  Bar menu?

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@Vic-Stevinson  Statistically speaking, it wouldn't be necessary to eat every burger in the city to determine which is the best. Considering that you could theoretically line up every burger from worst to best, you'd really only need to concentrate on the top percentile to make an educated value judgment. It's not lazy if you actually do the research to determine where you're likely to find the best and then do the tasting to come to a conclusion. And along the way, you keep your eyes, ears and mouth open for the hidden gems. Experience and knowledge of the territory will help lead to those.

Nor is it a lie to offer an opinion based on research and years of expertise. Just look up the definition of the word "lie" if you're confused.

Vic-Stevinson
Vic-Stevinson

Actually, if they would double fry them, they would be super-crispy on the outside and not greasy.

Vic-Stevinson
Vic-Stevinson

So far I tend to agree: part of the burger experience is THE BUN, and theirs is among the best.

Vic-Stevinson
Vic-Stevinson

Bummer that it's taking half a year for them to migrate across the street.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay  


(LOL? dimwit!)


Cremation would render an object reduced to basic mineral fragments.

However, it does appear it has been through an inferno.   

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