Where to Find the Best Burgers in Denver
From lauded Denver institutions to outstanding burger chains, look no further for the best burgers in the Mile High.
Patties for days. It’s impossible to capture every worthy burger spot in the Mile High because, man, there are a ton. You know it; we know it. And it’s honestly a good problem to have—it just means that no matter the day or time, you only have to walk a few steps before holding perfection in the palms of your hands.
For us, the ideal burger carries that undeniable scent of grilled beef patties under wonderfully melty cheese. It's crunch of fresh lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles, and about a million other wild toppings that the following places aren’t afraid to throw between buns.
This list honors those burger spots slinging certified classics, those putting a delicious twist on the classic, and the ones somewhere along the burger spectrum that make our mouths start watering just hearing their name. If you aren’t hungry, get hungry. These are (some of) the best burger joints in Denver right now.
Lucy’s Burger Bar
Set your sights here on the Juicy Lucy, where the cult following is very, very understandable because the burgers are damn good. The Juicy Lucy throws fried rice and an egg into the burger recipe, but don’t skip the classic “original recipe burgers” (which are still the bread and butter at Lucy’s). Oh, and when you order, you’re also supporting a woman-owned business—and we love to see that.
Illegal Burger strides outside the burger box with toppings that run the gamut. Sure, you can find the standards like mushrooms and Swiss and slightly less common toppings like fried onion strings, but how about throwing a whole hot dog on there? Maybe some grilled pineapple? It’s your world, we’re just living in it.
If you imagine an ultra-crushable burger, it probably looks a lot like what Split Lip is serving inside Number 38. And what better item to serve alongside the extensive beer, wine, and cocktail taps than a quintessential cheeseburger on a fluffy bun? Most Split Lip burgers keep it simple, only switching up the cheese or sauce involved—and always featuring (in Split Lip’s own words) “too many pickles.” The only exception to the “too many pickles” theme is the Washington Goop Burger, for which the menu claims to have a “normal amount of pickles.” It may have a standard amount of pickles, but that only makes room for the Smoked Goop, a smoky version of the Split Lip's sour cream, mayo, and mustard sauce. Take that for a spin, and get back to us.
Sully’s, the pizza parlor face of the Fat Sully’s/Atomic Cowboy/Denver Biscuit Co. triad, is known for, well, pizza—obviously. But its beautiful dark horse, the Lights Out Burger, is up there at the burgers-only big kids’ table. Only available after 4 pm, this double-smashed, American cheeseburger comes topped with diced onion, pickles, and tangy Thousand Island-inspired house sauce on a toasted, garlic butter brioche bun. It absolutely slaps, as the youths say.
Four locations across the Metro means easy access to some of the freshest, most satisfying burgers around. Options are your friend here, since you can choose from beef, buffalo, veggie, or turkey for your patty, and toppings include goat cheese, Brie cheese, guacamole, and crispy onions, as well as all the standards. Favorites include the Scarpone, a one-third pound patty topped with provolone, crispy pancetta, giardiniera, truffle garlic aioli, and lettuce and tomato; the Getting Figgy With It with fig jam and Brie; and naturally, the Classic Double.
Humboldt Kitchen And Bar
It might be the only burger on Humboldt’s menu, but it’s a short rib and brisket patty, and it’s stacked exceptionally high with fresh, tasty toppings, including sugar-cured bacon, red onion jam, and cracked pepper aioli. Wash it down with a craft cocktail like the vodka-based Lavender Lemonade, and call it a good day.
You can’t trust every eatery that’s been around a long time, but this family-run biz that’s been serving up burgers for 28 years is one to rely on. If you’re looking for one of those imposing, bursting-from-the-buns burgers in a cute little paper wrapper that also packs an absolute sensory punch, stop in. If you’re bringing the whole fam, great, because burgers aren’t the only menu item here—they are definitely, however, the hottest-selling.
What used to be a hard-to-catch, very occasional dish at celebrated chef Caroline Glover's award-winning eatery is now a staple of both the dine-in and takeout offerings. The Annette burger features 7x wagyu beef served up on a house-made English muffin with chow chow, sour pickles, and cheddar. It’s a perfectly crafted burger, but more than that, it’s a very real (and very delicious) symbol of Glover’s range as a chef.
Tap & Burger
Two words: ‘Shroom Luva’s. This burger spot from the team behind Bar Dough and Señor Bear has expanded to four locations in recent years, and there are a ton of burgers alongside the option to a design-your-own. But one signature must-try burger is the 'Shroom Luva’s, adored for its umami explosion of sautéed mushrooms and white truffle aioli with melted Swiss. It’s a classic combo that moves the burger from backyard barbecue staple to “damn, I need another” craving.
My Brother's Bar
As the oldest bar in Denver, this spot has some colorful history and counts Beat writers Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady as patrons. While it has continuously served hooch since 1873, the names have changed over the years. The current name and the burgers both arrived in 1970. My Brother’s Bar is an institution any way you slice it, with the Johnny Burger—topped with jalapeno cream cheese, grilled onions, and Swiss and American cheeses—being a certified classic.
The Cherry Cricket
The Cricket has been serving food in Denver for 70 years, so it’s pretty clear that this 1950s trucker-bar-turned-burger-stop 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. Plus, the second location, just steps from Coors Field, features arcade games and fish tanks and those same beloved burger patties loaded with all the peanut butter and bacon your heart desires (seriously, try that combo, it rocks).
Yup, that Snarf’s. One of the region’s most beloved local sandwich chains brought its burger game to the Mile High, and boy is it a smash hit. Snarfburger first debuted in Boulder but is now open on Federal and in Cap Hill. Everything on the menu is under $10, and that includes a double cheeseburger with Swiss and American. Premium toppings like bacon and avocado are available for an extra charge, but you don’t need those for a satisfying bite. For the full experience, add a side of super-crispy onion rings and a cup of frozen custard.
Hamburguesas Don Jesus
While the “Mexican hamburger” in Denver means a melty plate of meat and cheese under a tortilla blanket, in Mexico, hamburguesa stands serve up a totally different take on chargrilled beef, often topped with sliced pineapple, ham, and avocado. Enter Hamburguesas Don Jesus, an easy-to-miss spot where that approach is upped even further with burgers featuring a bevy of unexpected topping combos. Exhibit A: the Texana. It starts with a familiar base—a beef patty on a sesame seed bun with cheese, ketchup, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, and onion. But then things get interesting. Jalapeno joins the party along with avocado, a slice of ham, and a bacon wrapped hotdog (or, as it’s called here, a “weenie”). Other menu choices include toppings like chicken nuggets, anaheim chiles, and sliced pineapple. Go big and be adventurous, and you will be rewarded.
5280 Burger Bar
What’s one thing 5280 isn’t afraid of? Pushing the envelope. Its signature, The 5280, is about as classic as you can get (with the addition of a creamy, tangy house sauce), but the innovations on this menu are really something to behold. Forget the Reuben, pulled pork, or falafel; how about an ahi tuna steak burger? Some selections switch things up with gruyere or white sharp cheddar, others with a giant onion ring or jalapeno cream cheese. And then there’s the Double Bypass, complete with two quarter-pounders, pecanwood-smoked bacon, onion straws, and French fries, all between two buns. Can’t decide? There’s actually an option called “I Can’t Decide,” and it gets you two jumbo sliders. Sold.
A food and beverage guy through and through,Twansburger owner Antoine Villaume has been working his way through fine dining kitchens since moving stateside from Paris in the ‘90s, previously spending a stint at local ramen crown jewel Uncle. The menu at this roving pop-up is simple, serving either a single or a double with hand-crafted and expertly sourced toppings that pay homage to the classic, no-frills prototypes that started it all. Twansburger can usually be found at some kind of open market and can easily be sniffed out (It’s the place making the whole neighborhood smell like summer). Check its Instagram page to find out where it's parking.
Colin Wrenn is a Thrillist contributor.
Erica Buehler is a Denver-based freelance writer. Follow her @e_buehler on Instagram and @e_buehler_ on Twitter for more updates on Denver food and other Mile High shenanigans.