High Country Best Burger Showdown Underway

One of The Creek Restaurant's delicious burgers.

Voting Begins for TMJ Second Annual Contest

Vote Now for The Best Area Burgers | The Mountain Jackpot News

Trevor Phipps and Rick Langenberg

The beloved hamburger is probably one of the most popular foods in the world,  and this is no exception in the Teller County/Ute Pass region. We are known as Meat Country, and  many eateries pride themselves in making hamburgers like never before, and continuing this great American tradition.

Although the actual origins of the hamburger are not clear, by the 1900s the dish had become known as an American staple.


In the 1920s the White Castle franchise made the hamburger a well-known fast food staple. And then in the 1940s it became more popular when McDonalds opened up.


However, nowadays the famous sandwich is more than just a fast food dish people eat when they are on the run. In Teller County, just about every restaurant has their version of the classic dish. And, the local eateries get quite competitive when people talk about who has the best burger.

As a result, the stage is set for the second annual Burger of the High Country Showdown, where the bragging rights for this all-American dish will be determined.

The contest will occur over the next month, with the results released in early September.

In our inaugural competition in 2020, Russ’ Place won the first place trophy and McGinty’s came in a close second; but in reality, the real winner was Divide, which is apparently the “Center of the Known Universe” for meat fans.  But the competition was stern, with a bevy of eateries around the county receiving many tallies.

This year, to preliminary kick off the contest, we sought nominations on Facebook, and the response was resounding.  However,  it’s now time for the talk and verbal bragging to end.

The official voting for the best burger starts on Aug. 10  and will run until September. To vote, readers must go on MountainJackpot.com and choose the eatery that they feel makes the best burger.

The following is a list of the early contenders

Crystola Roadhouse

The roadhouse has been a popular watering hole in Teller County for decades. It is also known for making a good burger along with barbequed dishes.


Last year the roadhouse was bought by new owners who renovated the building and improved the menu. One of their most famous burgers comes with smoked beef brisket on top.


The Pantry Restaurant

In Green Mountain Falls, the Pantry has been famous for its delicious breakfast dishes for over 60 years. The eatery though, is also open for lunch and makes a mean hamburger.


The Pantry’s menu sports a build your own burger as well as other ones are hand crafted by the chef. Patrons can enjoy a green chili burger, one made with bison, or their famous Pantry Colossal burger that comes with “a mountain of goodies.”


Peak View Barbecue and Tap Room

Peak View is one of the newest restaurants in town as it just recently celebrated its one year anniversary. The eatery prides itself in having some of the best barbecue in the region and a good selection of Colorado craft beers.


Peak View also makes build your own burgers that have been discussed as a local favorite. Their patty melt is probably their most famous burger as it comes with bacon and smoked cheddar cheese. They are touted as a true half-pound burger.  And of course, their brisket dishes, culminating a 12-hour preparation and specially smoked process, have become legendary.


The Swiss Chalet

This local restaurant has been around for decades and it is best known for its fine dining and good wine. However, the establishment also serves a variety of delicious lunch dishes including seafood, pasta, and jaeger schnitzel.


Along with a variety of sandwiches offered for lunch, the Swiss Chalet includes a hamburger with Swiss cheese and sautéed mushrooms. The eatery also has a good selection of soups and desserts offered during lunch time.


The Historic Ute Inn

The Ute Inn is one of the most famous eateries in Woodland Park and it also has been serving food for locals for several decades. Some local rumors have suggested that the Ute Inn is the oldest continuously operating saloon in Colorado.


These days, the Ute prides itself in making delicious foods including having one of the best burgers in the area. All of their burgers are a half pound and are hand pressed and never frozen.


The rancher and the Swiss and shroom are the restaurants most popular burgers. The Ute also makes specialty burgers such as the false summit. It also runs burger specials from time to time such as one with cranberries and brie cheese.


Judge’s Char-Grill

This theme restaurant has been around for a few years now and every year it gets several votes for having the best burger. The eatery is named after the famous Pontiac GTO muscle car and it sports a variety of American and Mexican dishes.


Patrons can order a plain burger or choose one of their specialties. The most famous of their burgers is the Judge Burger that comes with their special sauce, cheese, bacon, mushrooms, pickles and an onion ring.


Red Diamond Gastro Truck

This specialty food truck is one of the many mobile eateries that has popped up recently in the region, but it can also be found at Rhapsody in Woodland Park most of the week. The food truck’s menu changes from time to time and it does move around town to go to different events.


It is locally known for its unique and tasty dishes, but it did recently receive several nominations for the best burger of the high country due to its patty melt. Unlike your typical patty melt, Red Diamond’s version comes with bacon onion jam and smoked provolone.


Shining Mountain Golf Course and Event Center

Many locals frequent the golf course, but some don’t know that they have delicious food there as well.

Recently, Shining Mountain netted a definite birdie with the addition of new chef, Tyler Krauer, from the acclaimed food hub of the U.S., Mobile, Alabama.  He sports years of experience in the culinary arena. Due to the popularity of Tyler’s dishes, they started special weekend dinners on Friday and Saturday. But make no mistake, SM prides itself on great enticing burgers, made completely from scratch.

Many golfers need a hearty burger after struggling for several hours with the SM brutal links’ rough.

Besides burgers, SM’s new meat displays are known for great full-pork and brisket plates. Also, check out their fresh gulf seafood. In addition, Shining Mountain, with one of the best bars in the area and a patio with unprecedented views, is renowned for sporting one of the best atmospheres for a burger dish, drink or any meal for that matter.




Carmen A Tapas

Last year, Carmen A Tapas ranked high in the best burger contest with their delicious buffalo burgers. However, after the pandemic struck the eatery changed its menu and did away with their giant burger.


The eatery now focuses entirely on tapas which are small portions of food that are meant to be shared. They do still have on their menu exquisite bison sliders that come with mixed greens caramelized onions and tomato.


Russ’ Place Sports Bar and Grill

Russ’ definitely takes pride in their burger and they are the reigning champion in TMJ’s Best of Contest for the last few years. The restaurant’s staff even wears shirts that brag about having the best burger of three years in a row.


Their menu consists of a variety of specialty burgers that are giant and made from meat purchased from the local Woodland Butcher Block. They have versions of basic burgers such as the bacon avocado and Swiss and mushroom. They also offer more specialized versions of the famous sandwich including their Jiffy and bacon mac burger.


McGinty’s Wood Oven Pub

McGinty’s generated an impressive response in last year’s inaugural Burger contest.  They pride themselves in serving beef, born and raised across the highway from their eatery in Divide. The local PBJ Cattle Company provides them with grass-fed, grass finished beef that doesn’t contain any hormones or antibiotics.


The restaurant offers a “Plain Shane” that is a basic burger that patrons can add cheese to if they desire. Patrons can also choose one of their specialty burgers including “The McCracken” or the “Patrick Killday.” Their “Nutty Blue Irishmen” is a unique twist that contains ground beef and lamb, gorgonzola walnut butter, and arugula.

McGinty’s is nearing its 11th-year anniversary, and is gearing up for the return of the NFL football season .With its spacious sports bar, what combination could be better than a burger and viewing a Broncos, Chiefs, Bills, Steelers or whoever, on their giant screen.


Thunderbird Inn

This local favorite has been serving the locals of Florissant for several decades. The eatery is also popular to passers-by who stop on their way back from the mountains.


The old west style saloon offers live music and has one of the nicest patios in the region. While there, patrons can enjoy a cold beverage along with a delicious burger.


Iron Tree Restaurant and Funky Town Brewery

Being one of the newest eateries in Florissant, the Iron Tree has become a popular spot for both locals and tourists. The eatery makes all of their food from scratch and even brews their own delicious beers.


Their wide selection of burgers includes several unique takes on the classic sandwich. All of their burgers come on homemade buns and come with sauces made in house.


Every year the restaurant gets several votes for having the best burger and this year they received an insane number of nominations for the contest, in a preliminary Facebook poll. Many have said that the fact their burgers are made on homemade bread sets them above other local eateries.


Mountain Burger

Another Florissant favorite, Mountain Burger, also received many  nominations recently for their delicious burger. The location and takeout style restaurant make it a good place to stop and get a burger while on the road.


The eatery offers basic burgers available in a single or double and a specialty Mountain Chili Burger. Mountain Burger also offers veggie and bison options that are also known to be quite yummy.


Ralf’s Break Room

Ralf’s has been a local favorite for several years and it is popular for offering a place to eat and drink without being inside a casino. The eatery is frequented by locals and travelers with children.


The Ralf’s is best known for its pizza, but it has also received many nominations for having the best burger. The menu offers a Swiss and mushroom, an original and a burger doused in their famously delicious green chili.

Ralf’s, known as the best local hangout, is also known for their Fish and Karaoke nights. And then you get a chance to let head owner Chris Hazlett tell a story or two or three.


The Creek Restaurant

The Creek is the newest restaurant to open its doors in the gambling town and it also caters to families and anyone who wants a break from the sights and sounds of a casino. The eatery was opened in the 2000s but then shut its doors after only being open for a few years.


The restaurant now has a new menu that offers unique dishes that can’t be found anywhere else in the region. And one of their main specialties on the menu is their burger. The menu has a nice selection of specialty hamburgers, a build your own option, and a choice of different kinds of meats.


One nice thing about this eatery is that patrons can choose from getting a burger with a beef, buffalo, or elk patty all for the same price. The menu also offers unique game dishes such as elk medallions, a bison steak, and a tomahawk pork chop.


The Fortune Club

This Victor staple recently went through an owner change and they switched up their menu. Their chef offers a breakfast menu that is served all day along with other classic dishes.


For lunch and dinner, the eatery offers a delicious half pound burger that locals seem to enjoy. The bar side also offers unique cocktails that are made with fresh ingredients and top shelf liquors.


Mining Claim 1899 Saloon

This saloon is a local favorite with friendly staff and delicious food options. They offer several fried appetizers and tasty burgers.


During the Gold Rush Days, the saloon was packed with event goers enjoying a cold beverage and munching on their delicious food items. The eatery usually ties with the fortune club when it comes to burgers in Victor as locals seem to enjoy going to both eateries.


Next week, TMJ will take a look at the casino restaurants and give readers incite to the many burger offerings available at local gaming establishments. On the ballot this year, there will be a separate category for the best casino burger. More details will be announced regarding this competition, along with a few more contenders.

But the real action starts this week. Make sure to vote for your favorite burger paradise choice.  Visit www.mountainjackpot.com and cast your tally. And if you want to make your opinions known in a more detail fashion, email us at editor@mountainjackpot.com.