A Swillin’ sampling of some of the best burgers in the ‘Boat
Vegetarian seeking out the ultimate grassy grub? Read no further. This roundup is all about the beef, be it Wagyu, Texas-style, and even donut- and peanut butter-embellished. Yep, when it comes to burgers to refuel your day on the snow, Steamboat has the gamut, from grass-fed to greasy, for every patty-lover out there. So, when you’re looking to replace those carbs from that epic powder day, here are a few local, gourmet favorites guaranteed to fuel you up for the next one. Sorry Ronald, you’ll have to sit this one out.
Big House Burger: Slammer
Missing the Lonestar State? Check out Big House Burgers’ Texas-style Slammer for a traditional patty on a sliced piece of open-faced Texas toast, complemented with pepper jack, smoked bacon and a fried egg and topped with none other than their house-made pork green chile. Looking for more irie island style? Order up the Pineapple Express, crafted with smoked bacon, grilled pineapple, jalapeno, and ginger teriyaki. It might be located on the west end of town (next to, ahem, Swillin’ partners Arctic Liquors and Tumbleweed), but its hamburgers hit close to home.
Old Town Pub: Goin’ Out West
Head west, pardner, with the Goin’ Out West signature burger at Old Town Pub downtown. Loaded with cheddar, bacon, BBQ sauce, garlic mayo and crispy onions all piled on a thick brioche bun, this burger will satisfy everything from Sunday night Fantasy Football cravings to empty bellies from schussing the slopes. Owner Sean Regan says it’s “pure western delish,” named for a Tom Waits song recreated by Widespread Panic. “We’re kind of thought of as a Panic bar, so this fits the bill,” he says. As well as hyping their build-your-own hamburgers, Regan also touts their McDowell, a classic take on the Big Mac, but actually made with real food. (The name comes from “Coming to America,” with Cleo McDowell’s line, “They got the Golden Arches, mine is the Golden Arcs.” This burger is stacked with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and 1,000 Island.
Carl’s Tavern: Nordic
Carl’s 100 percent wagyu beef options are “mouth-melting” good, approachable to the most discerning burger aficionado, says owner and GM Scott Engelman: “We use a half-pound wagyu patty and cook it on an open flame without pressing it, unless it’s ordered well done which we don’t recommend.” Its most popular, or high flying, is the Nordic, named in honor of namesake Carl Howelsen, with cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and applewood smoked bacon on a toasted brioche bun. Or, for you hot sauce junkies, take your chances with The Punisher, a burger designed to delight and ignite, topped with creamy goat cheese, fresh jalapeño (‘cuz why not?), crispy onions and Carl’s Steal Your Face Sauce. Still not sure? A tribute to Steamboat’s highest lift, the Morningside comes with white cheddar, applewood smoked bacon, sunny side up egg, sautéed spinach and garlic aioli. Or get your dead on with the Stella Blue, a nod to a Jerry tune written in the early 1970s topped with applewood smoked bacon, crumbled blue cheese, crispy onions, sliced tomato and a balsamic reduction.
Truffle Pig: Truffle Pig Burger
The Truffle Pig Burger has been a staple at Truffle Pig for nine years and “is without a doubt one of the top sellers on our menu,” says owner Scott Engleman, who admits he has a huge appreciation for a fantastic burger. Served with its signature Truffle fries with housemade tomato Demi, it comes with a 100% half-pound wagyu beef patty, featuring aged Vermont white cheddar, sautéed wild mushrooms, shaved black truffle, housemade bacon jam, and fresh watercress on a toasted brioche bun. But what makes it truly unique is its prep. Unlike many burgers which get cooked and pressed on a flat top, this baby’s cooked on an open-flame grill. “We don’t press the juices out of it,” says Engleman. “We often receive comments from guests saying it’s the best burger they’ve ever had.”
Back Door Burger: Dirty Harry
Serving up all-natural Colorado beef, Steamboat’s Back Door Grill grills up some of the country’s best burgers, as evidenced in its Top Ski Town Burgers listing by Men’s Journal. Of course, negotiating the menu can be as picking your way through Steamboat’s trees. Let’s see…the Mahalo with pineapple and Swiss cheese, the Twilight Zone with cheddar, bacon, creamy Sriracha and peanut butter, or the How Ya’ Doin’? with cream cheese, jalapeno jelly and bacon. And the Buzz Lightyear, with bacon, avocado, Swiss and a fried egg, is its best seller, moving more than 20,000 a year. But then your eyes settle on the Dirty Harry, featuring peanut butter, a fried egg, hashbrowns and cheddar cheese on, yes, a glazed doughnut with powdered sugar. “People order it because it’s different and a little funky,” says Gabriel Sanchez, who is how heading up Back Door’s grass-fed foray into Ft. Collins. “They say, ‘Wow, what? It comes on a donut?’” Bonus: Count the graffiti’d dollar bills tacked to the walls.
Rex’s Bar and Grill: Bison Burger
Looking for a burger to get you, ahem, over the hump? Sink your teeth into Rex’s Grill’s Bison Burger, as heavenly as it is hearty. With less fat and bold flavor, their grass-fed, Colorado-sourced bison, finished with Chipotle mayo (hint: order extra), is a true Colorado specialty and guaranteed to get your taste buds flowing like a stampeding herd of buffalo. Expect it to melt in your mouth from first bite to last, from lunch until the more boring tasting cows come home. And, of course, it will recharge you for a late night out on the town, perhaps listening to a concert by…Buffalo Commons?