5280 Burger Bar Serves Burgers and Beer with Altitude

Burgers are the new beer

If you haven’t noticed, burgers are the new beer in Denver, and discovering the different ways that restaurants are creating and topping burgers means Denver has even more delicious food to devour. Part of that revolution is 5280 Burger Bar in Denver Pavilions. Housed in an open air slightly industrial space, the bar has a large outdoor patio and 12 taps of beer just waiting to be sipped. And if that weren’t enough, 5280 Creamery is right next door. Can summer get any better?

This spot had created by Don Redlinger and Clay McPhail, who had both worked with fine dining restaurants in Boulder and wanted to do something less formal and more fun. What could be more fun than burgers? More importantly these two wanted to have good fun without sacrificing flavor.  That is why they use hormone- and antibiotic-free Colorado beef. The owners brag everything is so fresh, they don’t even have freezer in the kitchen. New Bar Manager Tom Sutliffe knows that Colorado craft beers pair nicely with these Colorado craft burgers.

“People coming in know that Denver is the beer capital of the United States so let’s try some beer,” says Sutliffe. “What I try to do is introduce these small, independent, self-distributing brewers to our guests. I try to focus on a particular style or brewer and then every month that style or brewer changes.”

Sutliffe also has fine dining experience and has channeled that attention to detail into beer. He partnered with Resolute Brewing Company in Centennial to create a special beer just for 5280 Burger Bar. That beer is 5280 Lager, a malty slightly dark amber lager that Sutliffe helped brew. He will also have Tap Takeovers by different area breweries with Meet the Brewer events twice each month. Along with the specialty brew, Resolute is May’s featured brewery with two other beers on tap. For June the featured brewery is Good River and July is Breckenridge Brewery.

While beer is a huge part of the 5280 experience, the cocktails haven’t been forgotten.

“When I got here, there were only eight cocktails and they hadn’t changed in three years,” says Tom. “Knowing that Denver is revolving into a cocktail town, we’ve introduced two house cocktails that we do every month and then six signature cocktails.” There is also a Mule Menu that will be updated for summer.

The Mucho Take It Easy is made with Mile High Cuidado Tequila, jalapeno, cucumber and lime and is a traditional margarita with a refreshing cucumber finish. Also using tequila, the Roasted Blueberry Basil Margarita is made with Mile High Cuidado Tequila, blueberry, basil and lime. The drink comes as a float with the blueberry puree on the bottom so guests need to stir the drink to mix the flavors together. It has a light blueberry scent and a lime citrus taste with the berry sweetness at the finish.  

A new take on a cocktail classic, the Feisty Old Fashioned is made with Feisty Cinnamon Maple Bourbon of Fort Collins and Black Walnut Bitters. The cocktail is a breakfast-y Old Fashioned with a cinnamon pancake scent. The sweet doughy pancake scent comes from the bitters. The taste is all bourbon with a maple finish.

As mentioned earlier, 5280 Creamery is a house-made ice cream shop next door and one of the benefits is the ability to use those scrumptious treats to make adult milkshakes. The “Shaketini” menu features nine hand-crafted milkshakes filled with booze such as the Nilla Nilla with caramelized banana ice cream, Crème de Banana, banana schnapps and topped with two Nilla Wafers. The Pina Colada has coconut ice cream and coconut rum and the Old Fashioned has vanilla and sea salt ice cream, Maraschino cherry and Bourbon. These will pair nicely with the patio this summer.

Now for the main course — the aptly named Perfect Burger is topped with Gruvere cheese, bacon onion jam, pickled red onions, red leaf lettuce and roasted garlic aioli. The Vaquero Burger is made with guacamole, queso fresca, pico de gallo and a sweet mango habanero aioli. The Aspen Burger is topped with Shiitake mushrooms, parmesan cheese, truffle chive aioli and butter lettuce.

All burgers are cooked to “medium perfection,” which means a warm pink center that is flavorful and juicy. If you prefer it cooked differently, you’ll have to tell your server. Not a red meat eater? Burgers are available in quinoa, chicken, lamb or bison. Since all the buns are house made, the kitchen offers a gluten free bun as well. 

Photos via Carrie Dow


Tags: Beer, Cocktails, Outdoor Seating
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