High Country Burger Showdown

Locals Get a Chance to Determine Kings of the Land in Third Annual Contest

Click here to vote for the best burger of the high country!

Trevor Phipps and Rick Langenberg

Well folks, it’s that time a year again when TMJ News begins its showdown for the BELOVED BURGER, or what some refer to as nothing less than  the culinary KING OF THE MOUNTAIN. Like many locals, area politicians (they won’t admit it due to political correctness restrictions, but they lover burgers) and community leaders, we appreciate the iconic burger and all of the local eateries that create them.

With hot sizzling days (yes we have one or two a year), restaurant-goers crave this old-fashion, classic dish. This is the time of year for burgers, in fact writing this makes me want to have one immediately. These days it’s hard to go to just about any American-style restaurant in the world without seeing the delicious meat patty and bun combination.

The famous rapper Snoop Dogg once said, “If it’s flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s, be the best hamburger flipper in the world. Whatever it is you do you have to master your craft.” And, it seems as if this statement holds true in Teller County because local eateries definitely take their burger crafting seriously.

Whether people prefer their burgers plain or loaded with goodies, the Ute Pass region has a large variety of delicious variations of the classic American sandwich. Whenever people come from other places to visit and ask the locals where to go to get the best burger, they will most likely receive varying results as the subject heated and controversial in the region.

In fact, the arguments over who has the best burger can often become a bitter debate at local saloons and on social media pages with everyone giving a different opinion and claiming bragging rights. Therefore, a couple of years ago TMJ News decided to settle the debate once and for all and hold an annual Best Burger of the High Country Contest where everyone has a chance to vote and put in their two cents as to who makes the best burger in the land.

The voting for the best burger starts this week, and will run until September. To vote, readers must go on MountainJackpot.com and choose the eatery that they feel makes the best burger. Here are a few top contenders, based on preliminary comments and past nominations. You are always free also to visit our Facebook page, and voice a few opinions or drop us a line at editor@mountainjackpot.com. Click here to vote for the best burger of the high country!

Lower Ute Pass

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  dishes, 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.”

Mad Hatter Saloon

This restaurant just recently opened its doors in Bust, CO, between Cascade and Green Mountain Falls. This “Alice in Wonderland”-themed restaurant is new to the scene but it offers a good selection of the American classic burger.

Their menu features a build your own burger option as well as delicious sides like waffle fries, sweet potato fries, and onion rings. The menu also has several recipes where visitors can order the same combination of toppings with either a hot dog, bratwurst or burger.

Wines of Colorado

This local gem in Cascade has been a popular spot for over a decade perhaps due to their unique and gorgeous creek side dining. Recently, the eatery has made headlines due to being taken over by new ownership.

The new owners brought about some change to the local hotspot including a diverse menu and a new bar. Highlights of their menu include their “Award Winning Buffalo Burger” and their “Famous Wine Burger.”

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.

The famous Teller hangout spot features live music on weekend nights and it is one of the best spots around to play shoot some billiards. One of their most famous specialty burgers comes with smoked beef brisket on top.

Woodland Park

Peak View Barbecue and Tap Room

Peak View just celebrated its second year of business and they keep updating their menu to include more delicious items. 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.  The only bad side:  you may run into a TMJ staffer there, eating yes, a Peak burger, namely Trevor, Rick and the local ambassador canine, Sinead (yes, she likes a few bites from area burgers, just a few). Their patty melt is probably their most famous burger as it comes with bacon and smoked cheddar cheese. Their classic cheeseburger is also known as a local favorite.

110 Reserve

Although this unique “social gathering spot” has become quite well-known to locals and tourists alike, they are rather new to the high country burger scene. They recently added the favorite American dish to their menu and the results do not disappoint.

110 Reserve has ranked in the top ten as one of the best beer gardens in the state and they have won several awards locally. The 110 bacon cheeseburger (see picture), contains grass-fed beef, bacon, cheddar cheese, greens, summer-ripened tomatoes, red onions, and it comes on a toasted Brioche bun.

To add to the experience, visitors can sit out on the patio while enjoying the weather and beautiful views of America’s Mountain due to the eatery’s ample outdoor seating. Burger lovers also have the option to wash down their meal with one of many hand-crafted cocktails or Colorado-brewed beers.

Stuft Food Emporium

This eatery just opened within the last year and one of their specialties is, of course, burgers. The restaurant’s large menu comes with a plethora of burger variations.

Stuft Food Emporium prides itself with producing giant portions of food. In fact, some of their burgers seem literally way too big for human consumption. For example, their Venezuelan includes a half pound burger, a chicken breast, a slice of ham, and other fixings!

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. Variety is not lacking, when it comes to Ute burger masterpieces, running the gamut from the “Classic Ute Burger” to a “Chipotle Black Bean Burger.”

The rancher and the swiss and shroom are the restaurants most popular burgers. The Ute also makes specialty burgers such as the Slopper.  It also features daily burger specials.

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.


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 is another top favorite in the Teller  Burger Land, and many regard the Irish-fare establishment at the premiere burger hub with their unbeatable meat. They pride themselves in serving beef that was 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 “Baby McCracken.” Another growing new favorite is “Bob’s Burger,”  named after local and legendary cattleman, Bob Burton, of the PBJ Cattle Company. Bob’s masterpiece plate comes equipped with fried egg, thick cut bacon, green chile aioli and more. While you are there, check out some of McGinty’s new menu additions, including a Salmon Enchanted Evening Special and the Grace O’Malley Ransom.

And of course, there is McGinty’s infamous Fish Fry on Friday and Saturday evenings, if burgers aren’t your thing.

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. Many have said that the fact their burgers are made on homemade bread sets them above other local eateries.

Cripple Creek/Victor

The Creek Restaurant

The Creek has slowly morphed into the gambling town’s most popular hangout spot as it 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.

It also has become a prime post-city council hangout.  Want to know what is really going on in town, and in prime political circles, visit The Creek.

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 remains the best option for a delicious burger in the high mountain town.

We will provide more choices in forthcoming weeks.

Don’t forget to visit MountainJackpot.com to place your vote as soon as possible. And if you want to make additional comments, send us an email at editor@mountainjackpot.com. or visit our Facebook page. Click here to vote for the best burger in the high country!