~ by Trevor Phipps ~
Divide, Colorado is the self-proclaimed and people’s choice as “The Center of the Known Universe.” We wish we could reveal why Divide gained this nickname, but then we would have to kill you for unveiling certain Teller secrets.
Beat the drums again and shout the accolades. Divide has gained a new distinction: The Region’s Top Burger Champion. And for that matter, probably the nation’s top meat palace, period.
After a month of tallying votes for TMJ’s first-ever Best Burger Contest, the results show that Divide, earns the title of “Burger King of the Mountain” when it comes to making great hamburgers. Over the past few weeks, we have been using a variety of means to determine a winner as people submitted their vote for the best burger on a poll on our website, made comments on our Facebook page, and directly emailed their votes to us.
So, after taking all of the voting methods and the picks of our staff into consideration, the ultimate winner of the area’s best burger goes to the TMJ’s Best Of reigning champion, Russ’ Place in Divide. However, their rival eatery in the same town McGinty’s Wood Oven Pub came in second by a very thin margin. Russ’ had the best on-line tallies, while McGinty’s emerged as the favorite in email votes.
Therefore, seeing as how these two restaurants clearly dominated the top burger voting showdown, Divide earns the gold as the best place in the Ute Pass region to score a quality hamburger.
Coming in third place, and taking the gold in the city of Woodland Park was My Sweet Escape Bakery and Café. Sweet Escape earned a substantial number of votes. Others that got quite a few votes included the Historic Ute Inn, the Crystola Roadhouse, and Judge’s Chargrill.
During the past month, I personally took the time to visit every establishment and try each burger to come up with my own honest vote. (It was a tough job but someone had to conduct this test, even though some restaurant operators now hide their food when they see me coming. I have never been shy about gorging down burgers.) And let me tell you, picking one winner out of the eight local eateries that entered the contest was a really tough task.
Let it be known that I personally thought that all of the local restaurants produced quality burgers and that they were all very delicious in their own way. The ultimate winner, Russ’ Place, was the spot that got my vote but the decision was not easy. I think what really sold me on them were the generous portions of toppings that each patty from a local butcher had on them. And, the fact that they bake the buns on site is also a plus that gives the burger extra personality.
But McGinty’s also pleased my palates when I tried their Big McG which consists of two local beef patties with American cheese, grilled red onion, finished with McGinty’s special sauce and topped with lettuce and tomato. The restaurant is especially starting to become a local favorite after their new chef Larissa Vendola has taken over the top spot in the kitchen. Their meat comes from a local ranch too.
My Sweet Escape’s burgers are definitely some of my favorites. In fact, they cook some of the best burgers I have ever had. The burgers get pattied there; they bake their own delicious bread, and they offer freshly cut red potato fries.
Judge’s Chargrill also brings a different type of burger to the table as they are all grill on a flat top. The restaurant also offers American classic burgers with a South of the Border twist.
Crystola Roadhouse also astonished me with their rendition of the classic burger when they offered up their bacon cheddar brisket burger with house-smoke beef brisket on top. The regular burgers at the eatery are also delicious as well as their barbecue.
The Historic Ute Inn has always been a local favorite known for their yummy burgers. They usually offer a special which consists of a variety of different burgers and other quality meals.
Carmen A Tapas is another one that I have to give credit to for the way the hand craft their hamburgers. All they serve is the leaner version of the burger using buffalo meat but they taste quite exquisite.
The Shining Mountain Golf Course’s restaurant the Turn and Burn Grill is another place in town that knows how to cook a good burger. The burgers are made and stacked in a way that makes them look intimidating to eat but after a few bites it is hard not to want to finish the whole thing.
Well now that the contest is over, it is safe to say that just about every restaurant in the Ute Pass region that offers hamburgers are worth trying. The different flavors and renditions of the classic American burger and fries meal is worth taking the trip to each of the local eateries.