If Denver is known for one dish, its green chile. The undisputed champion serving knockout punch after knockout punch to all other foods that step into its plate-shaped ring. But there IS another food that’s making a serious comeback in the Mile High: The burger. Although it remains relatively under the radar, Denver’s burgers could compete with any other city’s, easily. From one topped with peanut butter to another loaded with bacon, poblano peppers, and goat cheese... here are the best burgers you’ll find in Denver, right now.
The Squeaky BeanAddress and Info
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 & BreweryAddress and Info
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.
Billy’s InnAddress and Info
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. 3Address and Info
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.
The “I Can’t Decide”
5280 Burger BarAddress and Info
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’s PubAddress and Info
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 CricketAddress and Info
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 KitchenAddress and Info
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.
Royal RoosterAddress and Info
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."
Federal Bar & GrillAddress and Info
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.
Green Chile Char Burger
Juicy Burgers and DogsAddress and Info
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 HouseAddress and Info
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 Bean1500 Wynkoop St, Denver
2. Vine Street Pub & Brewery1700 Vine St, Denver
3. Billy's Inn4403 Lowell Blvd, Denver
4. Sam's No. 31500 Curtis St, Denver
5. 5280 Burger Bar500 16th Street, Denver
6. Finley's Pub375 S Pearl St, Denver
7. The Cherry Cricket2641 E 2nd Ave, Denver
8. Meadowlark2701 Larimer St, Denver
9. Royal Rooster3316 Tejon St, Denver
10. Federal Bar and Grill2544 Federal Blvd, Denver
11. Juicy Burgers & Dogs6830 S Yosemite St, Centennial
12. Dunbar Kitchen & Taphouse2844 Welton St, Denver
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.