Written by Jennifer Cadena
Illustration by Madison Otten
5280, a clever nod to the city’s topographic distance above sea-level, has received much deserved praise from local publications like the Westword, Drink Denver, and Fox31 Denver. First opened in the Denver Pavillions in 2014, business has been so good that, in 2017, a second location has graced the northern Westminster marketplace.
If you care about where your food comes from, 5280 boasts their “Never Ever” motto, with a promise that all ingredients are hormone and antibiotic free, locally sourced and fresh made in-house every day. Need a sweet treat after a salty burger?
The 5280 Ice Cream parlor is smartly joined to the restaurant’s waiting area, and patrons can easily gain access to all the fresh flavors also made in-house.
On a quiet Thursday evening, my family and I rolled into the 5280 Burger Bar in Westminster. Two hostesses greeted us warmly and handed us a square, blinking buzzer with the promise of only 20 short minutes until we could be guided to our table. I glanced around the restaurant, and all the tables were indeed occupied, with additional chairs squeezed into the crowded little tables.
Even the bar, boasting 12 local Colorado beers on tap, was tightly packed with smiling, flushed-faced patrons. TVs were mounted in every corner broadcasting baseball games and hockey matches. When the buzzer alerted us to our table just five minutes later, my stomach growled in approval.
The staff was busy flitting about the tight, neat space, bringing food to the tables. Glancing around, I noticed the soda fountains were pristinely clean, a rarity among burger joints. The delightful smell of freshly grilled burgers wafted our way. I swear I could almost taste the grilled perfection already.
The waitress greeted us at our table and informed us that all items on the menu were made fresh daily and sourced with local ingredients, from the daily baked buns, to the sauces, to the beef and lamb in the burgers. The key to a good burger is a proper bun. I was determined to put their bun to the test.
We sang our order to the waitress, two classic burgers, dubbed “The 5280,” ($8.99 each) 2 kids meals with hot dogs ($4.99, each) for the littles, and all the fries we could eat (not bottomless, but a plentiful amount for a table of four, $4.99). My personal standard is to stick to the classic American-style burger. Sometimes the fancy fixings can betray your senses and disguise a mediocre burger.
Not 15 minutes later, a food runner rounded the corner, large tray in hand, eyes fixed on our table. He swung the tray around, expertly lowering plates down to our table. The perfect burgers were perched high, buns fluffed, with a garland of sauce threatening to spill from the sides.
Crisp, green lettuce, check. Juicy, perfectly ripe tomato, check. Melty American cheese encasing a perfectly formed patty, double check. And finally, the bun: lightly toasted with a thin smear of fatty mayo on one side and a puffed top dimpled with sesame seeds on the other. I took a huge bite of the extraordinary burger. The meat was cooked and expertly seasoned to a beautiful medium with just the right amount of juice. The bun was indeed baked fresh and had a slight, grilled golden toast and the fixings crunched.
While there was nothing particularly amazing about the fries, the homemade ketchup had me double dipping. With a confident peppery tang, several little ramekins encircled our one-size-fits-all basket of crispy fries. The ketchup, not to be outdone by the burger was definitely a star contender and also freshly prepared that morning. No store-bought condiments here, Folks!
Our kindly waitress stopped by our table and tempted us with homemade ice cream ($2.99 per scoop) from the ice cream parlor, impressing us with her knowledge of all dozen flavors of the day, to which our full stomachs had to regretfully decline. She presented our check, assured us there was no rush and left us to digest. I glanced at the check, exactly $52.80 – a bit curious, but a decent price for a family of four.
5280 claims to have the best burger in Denver and does not disappoint. The hungry and impatient customer will appreciate the cleanliness and prompt service as well as the fantastic burgers, not to mention their under-recognized homemade ketchup. 5280 has set the bar of excellence for the simple, classic American burger. The vast selection of burgers will likely impress even the pickiest of burger connoisseurs.
|5280 Burger Bar
4301 Main Street
Westminster, CO 80031
Phone: (720) 887-5970
Hours: Sun – Thurs 11am – 9pm; Fri – Sat 11am – 10pm
Price Range $11- $30