Established, national burger-restaurant chain vs. a Denver local with chain aspirations. On the surface, H Burger Co and Red Robin couldn’t be any more different. But dig a little deeper and the similarities between the two start to appear. Both are known for their burgers, but offer much more than that at their restaurants. Both have bar areas that help appeal to their overall theme. And both would love to open more locations. So does the mega-chain beat out the mini-chain, or do less restaurants mean higher quality? Let’s go to the match-up:
(2) H Burger Co.
H Burger Co is all about being local. From local, Colorado only locations, to locally sourced food, H Burger Co. didn’t go far to prepare your meal. They use locally sourced Angus beef, fresh baked buns, and hand-cut fries. The best part? You can definitely taste that freshness.
For the Burger Bracket I went with the namesake “H Burger”, which is a hand-formed, freshly ground 100% Angus beef patty with Hatch chile, smoked cheddar, sweet ‘n’ spicy bacon, Bibb lettuce, tomato, onion, and served with a red pepper-tomato jam. It comes in at $11.50 and is served with hand-cut fries. It’s a big-ass burger, and is cooked well. The cheddar didn’t necessarily taste “smoked”, and the bacon didn’t quite hit “sweet ‘n’ spicy”, but they tasted like cheese and bacon, which is pretty good on a burger. It’s juicy as can be (they might wanna let the burger rest a minute before serving), which totally decimates the bottom bun. In fact, the bun was a bit of a let-down and totally fell apart with the wetness and weight of this burger. But the flavor is definitely there, and that’s kind of the key to this whole thing. The bibb lettuce and Hatch chiles were good touches as well. A sneaky winner at H Burger Co is their H Sauce, which comes with their fries. It’s basically garlic mayo, but I could put some H Sauce on literally everything.
(7) Red Robin
You’ve most likely already been to a Red Robin at some point in your life. Or at the very least, you’ve heard those annoying “Yuummmmmmmmmmm” commercials they’ve had running for the past few years. Red Robin is like an Applebee’s for burgers. Often scoffed at, but they’ve gotta be doing something right to have so many restaurants open, right? I’ve been to Red Robin a few times and have always gotten the famous Royal Red Robin burger (with a fried egg on top). For the Bracket I opted for the Guacamole Bacon burger, which comes dressed with guacamole, bacon, swiss cheese, tomatoes, onion, and mayo. With bottomless steak fries it checks out at $9.99. They also ask if you want it “pink or no pink” in the middle, which I kind of like as a cop out for them. Besides the dirty undertones, that question leaves them a lot of wiggle room. There’s no attempt on their part to cook it EXACTLY how you order it, which we all know rarely happens. And yes, you have to get a little pink in the middle.
Here’s the crazy part: You know how major restaurant chains take ridiculous pictures of their food for advertisements, and it looks NOTHING like that in real life (See Red Robin pic in the gallery below)? Well, this time, it pretty much looks like advertised. Cut this burger in half, and it stands up big and tall just like the pics. And oh by the way, it tastes as good as it looks. The bun is generic but holds firm, and while it may be unfair to include guac on a burger in the bracket, it’s works so well with this burger. The patty is indeed pink in the middle, with slight points taken away because the ends were too well-done and tough/chewy.
As you can see, having more restaurants doesn’t have to translate into a slip in quality. This decision was tough, but the winning burger just had more overall flavor, especially in the burger patty. With a narrow victory, H Burger Co is moving on to the second round of the 2013 Denver Burger Bracket.