Food & Drink

The 12 Most Unrivaled Burgers in Denver

Published On 09/29/2015 Published On 09/29/2015
Daniel Luke Holton


The Squeaky Bean

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The SB embraces quirkiness. Case in point, it does bingo brunches and serves cocktails dedicated to recently deceased celebrities. However, the burger is no joke. It’s a straightforward ode to that favorite from the golden arches with two patties swathed in melted American cheese, and served on a soft bun with pickles, grilled onions, and the requisite special sauce. Get some thin, crisp fries on the side, and a beer (or soda), and you’ve got a grown-up version of your favorite fast-food meal.

Date Night Burger

Vine Street Pub & Brewery

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City Park West

Ever had a bacon-wrapped date? If you have, you know that it’s basically a perfect bite: salty bacon, sweet date, creamy goat cheese… now put that on a burger, add roasted poblano for even more flavor, and there’s no need to wait for an actual date night to try this sucker. In fact, it’s better if you don’t have to share. Just don’t forget to stop by the ATM first; this place is cash-only.

Courtesy of Billy's Inn

The Skippy

Billy’s Inn

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Forget ketchup, pass the peanut butter. Sure, it’s a little odd, but once you taste this burger topped with pepper Jack, thick, sugar-cured bacon, and creamy peanut butter, you’ll wonder why more places haven’t caught on to PB’s obviously magical relationship with juicy patty-style beef.

Green Chili Mexi-Burger

Sam’s No. 3

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Central Business District, Glendale, and Aurora

It’s no secret that Denver loves green chili, as evidenced by this Mexican “hamburger” served in a tortilla, then smothered in green chili and a mound of decidedly un-fancy orange-hued cheese. Though you can find it on the menu at many Mexican restaurants in town, the version at longtime diner-style favorite Sam’s No. 3 comes topped with some of the best pork green chili in town.  

5280 Burger Bar

The “I Can’t Decide”

5280 Burger Bar

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16th Street Mall

We’ve all been there. A classic cheeseburger sounds pretty great, but so does one with sharp Vermont white cheddar, fried onion straws, and creamy horseradish sauce, or maybe… ugh, it’s so hard to pick! Well, thanks to this dinner-only option at 5280, you don’t have to: instead you can get any two burgers on the menu in the form of juicy, jumbo-sized sliders.

Finley Burger

Finley’s Pub

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Washington Park West

At this otherwise nondescript neighborhood pub, the burger packs a triple-punch of meatiness via a braised short rib and ground chuck patty served with bacon on top. And if that’s not tempting enough, things get messy (in a good way) with the addition of cheddar cheese, and a heap of rich béarnaise.

Cherry Cricket

Cricket Burger

Cherry Cricket

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Cherry Creek

The Cricket’s been serving up food in Denver for 70 years, so it’s pretty clear that this 1950s trucker bar-turned-burger joint is doing something right. It starts with the basics: a half-pound patty on a sesame seed bun. Then you take over, picking from the extensive list of additions. At this point, this place has seen it all, so if herb cream cheese, grilled pineapple, and corned beef are what you’re craving -- go for it.

Meadowlark Burger

Meadowlark Kitchen

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Five Points

The Meadowlark is a well-known local music venue, and now its burger is getting a rep too: it’s tall, messy, and unapologetically indulgent, with a mountain of cheddar cheese sauce, candied bacon, an onion ring, jalapeño confit, and a poached egg all piled on a brioche bun. But don’t worry, the toppings aren’t making up for a shoddy patty -- the beef is from local butcher shop Western Daughters, making this burger far more than just some towering curiosity.

The Royal Rooster

Roadside Burger

Royal Rooster

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This weekday lunchtime pop-up inside Old Major serves up some of the best fried chicken sandwiches in town, so when it added burgers to the lineup, it had a lot to live up to. But burger dreams really do come true with this double-pattied beauty topped with melted American cheese, onions, lettuce, and tomato, and served on the irresistible and aptly named "squishy bun."

Juicy Lucy

Federal Bar & Grill

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Jefferson Park

At this under-the-radar spot, you can get almost anything on your burger -- fried pickles, banh mi slaw, mortadella -- it's all fair game. But it's the appearance of this Minnesota classic, stuffed with a heap of melty cheese in the middle of the patty, that's really making us swoon.

Juicy Burgers and Dogs

Green Chile Char Burger

Juicy Burgers and Dogs

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Denver's south suburbs get a bad rap for their supposed lack of new food options, but if that's what you think, you haven't looked hard enough. Otherwise you would have found Juicy Burgers & Dogs, a joint that's perfected affordable, greasy, char-grilled meat patties. This version, topped with strips of roasted green chiles, pepper jack cheese, mushrooms, crispy onion strings, and chipotle aioli, is a creation that should not be missed. As a bonus, you can score a free ice cream cone after downing your meal.

Lucky No. 13 Burger

Dunbar Kitchen & Tap House

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Five Points

House-made pimento cheese set atop a juicy patty should be enough reason for you to head to this neighborhood favorite, right? Well, what if we told you bacon jam was invited to the burger party, too? It is. After you try this irresistible indulgence, head here on Tuesdays, when you'll find a different experimental burger making a one-night-only appearance weekly.

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1. The Squeaky Bean 1500 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202 (Lodo)

The Squeaky Bean, based in Denver's LoDo neighborhood, is an American restaurant whose menu changes with the seasons, to the heightened satisfaction of your taste buds. If you visit their website, you can even get a 360° peek at the farm on which their ingredients are grown. And while their menu varies from crispy cauliflower one day to sheep's milk ricotta gnocchi another, it's always served in a light-filled space where the intersection of warm wood and orange brick offers your meal a homey context.

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2. Vine Street Pub & Brewery 1700 Vine St, Denver, CO 80206

A subsidiary of the Mountain Sun Restaurant Group (Pearl Street's popular pub), Vine Street offers a solid selection of microbrews on tap, as well as delicious pub fare. Just like its extensive collection of housemade craft beers, the interior design here is wholly custom-tailored as well, and features abstract and colorful murals, overhead piping painted with vines, and a patio designated for cornhole matches.

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3. Billy's Inn 4403 Lowell Blvd, Denver, CO 80211 (Highland)

Inside and out, Billy's Inn gives off a welcoming, familial vibe that's inevitable for a restaurant that's been open for close to a century. Billy's speciality is Mexican food, and though its servings of homemade chili and nachos are time-tested classics, the pub isn't scared to venture beyond its south-of-the-border classics. Case in point: the burger menu, where the Skippy burger, topped with peanut butter, mayonnaise, pepperjack cheese, and sugar-cured bacon, is a stand-out.

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4. Sam's No. 3 1500 Curtis St, Denver, CO 80202 (Cbd)

Family-owned and maintained for three generations, this diner and bar is a Denver institution. Though the spot is hailed for its Colorado green chili and breakfast menu, the eight-page menu is honestly so all-encompassing that it might even include culinary gems yet to be spotlighted. In addition to a usual wait, 15 kinds of burgers and 21 breakfast burritos to choose from will make your visit a long one, so prepare accordingly.

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5. 5280 Burger Bar 500 16th Street, Denver, CO 80202

Located right around the corner from the Convention Center, this buzy, street-facing burger joint serves up burger, beers, and an inventive dessert menu. It also takes away the second-guessing from your dining experience by way of a dinner-only option where you can get any two burgers on the menu in the form of juicy, jumbo-sized sliders.

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6. Finley's Pub 375 S Pearl St, Denver, CO 80209 (Wash Park West)

Named for fleetingly great Irish small forward Michael Finley, Finley's provides South Pearl Street with craft beers and "upscale pub food" with a New Orleans twist (their chef is from down south). And while most pubs in Dublin don't have a theme, this one's got outdoors-inspired skis and peak photos above its handmade hickory bar.

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7. The Cherry Cricket 2641 E 2nd Ave, Denver, CO 80206 (Cherry Creek)

Backed by 50 years of burger history, Cherry Cricket's patties are a true legend, and its wings, sandwiches, and chilis are pretty damn good too. A champion of local beer, the bar is stocked with 27 taps of locally brewed craft beer.

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8. Meadowlark 2701 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205 (Five Points)

A music venue that features everyone from down-tempo DJs to acoustic sets, this basement space is a local go-to favorite. While their musical offerings are eclectic and wide-ranging, the drink and protein-heavy eat options are just as crowd-pleasing. The affiliated Meadowlark Kitchen next door offers one of the city's most indulgent beef burgers, topped with a mountain of cheddar cheese sauce, candied bacon, an onion ring, jalapeño confit, and a poached egg, all on a brioche bun.

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9. Royal Rooster 3316 Tejon St, Denver, CO 80211 (Highland)

Located inside Restaurateur Justin Brunson's Old Major, Royal Rooster is a lunch-only chicken sandwich-and-canned beer pop-up. It draws lunchtime crowds to the bar at Old Major with its hearty, innovative creature comforts, like the ever-popular fried chicken from its host's dinner menu, but in sandwich form with various toppings (get the Classic Rooster with pickles and mayo, the Korean with kimchi and Kewpie mayo, the Spicy with pickles and Sriracha mayo, or the French with ham, swiss, and mayo) on a soft Martin's potato bun. The menu is limited to just a few options beyond the Roosters, and yes, there is cheeseburger.

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10. Federal Bar and Grill 2544 Federal Blvd, Denver, CO 80211

Twenty draft lines and an extensive bottled beer selection encourage a social atmosphere, but other furnishings, like a popcorn machine, a ping pong table, and Trivial Pursuit, commit to make you stay for more than a pint. If not for a brew, stay for a meal that includes pub classics, but also eclectic variations on favorites, like the "Vampire Slayer" burger served with garlic cream cheese, bacon, and topped with fresh garlic chips.

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11. Juicy Burgers & Dogs 6830 S Yosemite St, Centennial, CO 80112

Other than its bright apple-red chairs, this simply decorated Centennial burger spot is known for its above-average chargrilled beef patties, assembly cleanly into ten classic burger options. If you're coming in with an especially large appetite, the restaurant also offers a generous menu of free burger toppings including chili, crispy fried onions, and blue cheese that will let you construct your own juicy, supersize meal.

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12. Dunbar Kitchen & Taphouse 2844 Welton St, Denver, CO 80205 (Five Points)

Historically speaking, Dunbar has one of the best happy hours in Denver -- all afternoon, the ever-changing, mostly local taps flow for $3.50 a pint, while surprisingly decent wines by the glass are half or nearly half off. As for the snack selection, it’s really just an extension of the equally well-priced appetizer section on the regular menu, so feel free to mix and match.



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