I love the trend lately of high end burger joints.
The Denver area has its fair share of really great fast-casual burger places—Larkburger and Smashburger come to mind—where you can get a better burger (made from better ingredients) than you could ever dream of at a fast food place. And I am all over that.
5280 Burger Bar is following that trend, but trying to distinguish itself by being more of a sit-down restaurant experience (although you can still order at the counter), making everything from the buns to the pickles to the ketchup in house, and churning out a bevy of beautiful burgers and tasty treats in the process.
Location: 500 16th Street, Denver on the first floor of the Pavilions — a great location if you’re visiting Denver and staying downtown.
Claim to Fame: Everything is house-made. Buns are made fresh daily in house. Pickles and condiments are made in house, and so is the ice cream. Even the freakin’ American cheese is made in house! (It’s much better than Kraft.)
What we tried: We couldn’t pass up the cheeseburger eggrolls—because cheeseburger eggrolls—and they were pretty tasty, but messy, as the filling doesn’t like to stay in the crispy wonton wrapper. For the main course, they offer all their burgers in slider size (3oz of beef), so we could try the 5280 Burger (classic and tasty); The Vail Valley with horseradish, white Vermont cheddar and onion straws; The Boss Hog, topped with pulled pork, BBQ sauce and pecan-smoked bacon; and the Ring of Fire, not for sissies, with sauteed habanero and jalapeno peppers, pepper jack cheese, housemade chipotle peppers and Ring of Fire Sauce. We had a HUGE basket of amazing hand-cut fries and very tasty onion rings. AND THEN (as if that weren’t enough) they brought us a banana split milkshake, turtle sundae, Grounded Grasshopper Shaktini, and a bowl of their circus ice cream to try. All really delicious.
Favorites: Everything was good, but the fries really stood out as being little sticks of fried perfection (a bad fry can be the kiss of death for a burger place), and the ice cream was impressive, too. Plus, boozy milkshakes? I’m all in!
Unexpected: I didn’t expect to like the banana split milkshake, as I don’t like anything banana “flavored”—but they roast the bananas and then infuse the cream overnight, so the banana flavor was real, not from a bottle. In fact, they said they don’t use any bottled flavor extracts except mint, which is too hard to make in house. (They tried to make their own and said it turned out tasting like dirt!)
Atmosphere: Casual and fun with orange booths and lots of TVs around the bar. Great people-watching opportunity from the patio. We were there on a quiet Monday night, but I bet it could get noisy.
Kid-friendly?: Totally. They have a pretty standard kid’s menu, but everything is made with the same quality ingredients as the grown-up menu, and they offer kid-sized ice cream servings, which kids will definitely want. The circus flavored ice cream seems custom-made for kids: cotton candy ice cream (it’s blue) with crushed iced animal crackers, crumbled twinkies, and lots of sprinkles is a kids’ dream flavor.