A really interesting match-up here in the Avalanche Region of the Denver Burger Bracket. It pits the bracket’s most outlandish burgers against the only burger joint in the bracket that could be considered in the realm of “fast food”. Both of them put up a front and give a little song and dance show in front of their burgers. Crave Burgers goes for the “wow” factor, as their menu and choices of burger toppings crushes anything in the country. Freddy’s looks and feels like a 1950s soda/ice cream parlor that just happens to sell burgers (if you can remove yourself from the typically generic fast-food chain building and furniture). But behind both of their facades is the same thing: some really tasty burgers.
Let’s go to the match-up:
(1) Crave Real Burgers
Crave Burgers is the unequivocal leader in burger toppings in the United States, and probably the world. Just take a look at this menu! The burger toppings are all over the board; from a breakfast burger between two donuts, to a jalapeno poppers on top of a burger, to a burger using two grilled cheese sandwiches as buns.For the Denver Burger Bracket, it was too hard to pick just one burger. So I had some friends join me to sample some of Crave’s best burger offerings. We share the Luther burger to start, which is a cheeseburger topped with bacon and a fried egg, set between two glazed donuts! It was definitely better than anticipated, as the salty burger patty mixed well with the sweetness of the donut. Thank God we were splitting it though, as I don’t think I could have handled an entire Luther burger.Friends got the Slopper (a green chile smothered cheeseburger over a grilled cheese sandwich, topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, poblanos, pico, sour cream and avocado), the Colorado (shredded lamb, poblanos, onions, pepper Jack, avocado, chipotle mayo and tomato), the Texas (beef brisket, bbq sauce, coleslaw and onion strings), the Campfire (a buffalo patty with raspberry BBQ, crispy poblano rings, pepper Jack cheese, coffee dusted onion strings), and the Drunken Onion (cabernet carmelized onions, Gruyere, Swiss, onion strings, and French onion soup for dipping). I myself had to go for the completely over-the-top Cubano burger (cheeseburger, ham, chorizo sausage, breaded pork, hot dog, cheese, chipotle mayo, avocado, jalapenos, egg, lettuce, tomato, and onion).While the Cubano was ridiculously hard to take a bite of, it was absolutely delicious. Served with a side of fries for $11, it’s definitely two meals in one burger. With such a wide variety, you’d think that Crave would slip up somewhere and have something go awry. It’s very difficult to have such a broad menu and succeed in keeping such great flavors. But it works. Everyone in attendance loved their burgers, and seeing as how we got 7 different burgers on the day and enjoyed each one, Crave Burgers certainly knows how pack flavor into each and every wacky burger combination.
(8) Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers
Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers looks and feels like your typical drive-thru. Maybe a little bit cleaner and a better theme, but you get the idea. It feels like Disneyland in a restaurant, as their no pretense to the fake-ness. Started in 2002 in Wichita, Kansas, Freddy’s is an attempt to recreate the burgers and restaurants of the 1950s. Walking in it’s hard to wrap your head around that, because it really just looks like any other fast-food joint. And then you taste the food.
Freddy’s steakburgers taste a lot like Steak N’ Shake, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Instead of the typical ground beer patty, they use chopped pieces of steak that are loosely formed together into a patty and cooked to a deliciously soft and juicy final product. I opted for the Freddy’s Original double burger, dressed with mustard and raw white onions. Since the meat is loosely formed the top patty almost envelopes the patty beneath it, and creates a halo of crusted steakburger around the edges. That crispiness is a huge plus in my book, and the whole thing just works well together. Minimally dressed, the mustard and onions serve to really highlight the steak meat being used for the burger.
BONUS: The custard is outstanding! I’m not a big ice cream person, but the custard here is worth a visit on it’s own.
Freddy’s put up a good fight and is definitely worth a visit, but it’s going to be hard to beat a place that has such generous and delicious toppings. Crave Real Burgers takes this first round match-up.