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Enjoy Gluten Free Burgers AND Fries at Denver’s 5280 Burger Bar

The Famous Bowler Painting

The Famous Bowler Painting

I love hats. Soft, head hugging kinds, a narrow brimmed woven Trilby circled with a colorful band, rounded crown Bowlers that, when used in excess, can confuse security during an art heist, and even the “cowboy” variety that has baffled yet intrigued me for years. So you’re most likely thinking, wow, what do hats have to do with the title of this blog post? How do hats and burgers relate to each other? Well, in my mind they do, and here is how.

Many people plan to spend the day after Christmas engaged in the acquisition of goods, i.e., spending gift cards, snagging deeply discounted decorations or buying the one or two or three things on their list they just did not get. Rich and I really did not have such a plan for ourselves and on Tuesday when we talked about what we were going to do on Friday, shopping never really came up. After the gift opening portion of Christmas day, it was evident that our Friday plans needed to change. Two very special gifts from Rich, a black jacket made from soft leather that smelled so good I had bury my face in it (yes I am a bit weird) and a stunning black Bowler hat with a delicate red feather tucked into the band, were a smidgeon too small for me.

I can be a bit impulsive at times. I have been told by those near and dear to me that having an impulsive aspect to my personality is not necessarily “bad” unless it infringes on the plans of those near and dear to me. And there is just no way that have every occurred before! Luckily for me, Rich loves my impulsiveness. Well, he kind of has to since he is even more impulsive than me if only just slightly. So, what’s a girl to do when she is staring at two gifts she can’t wait to wear? Go out IMMEDIATELY and exchange them of course!

So that is what we did! On Saturday. Those near and dear to me had things to do on Friday so this impulsive girl had to wait. Having to wait an extra day allowed me to work on my “patience project” that I have been engaged in for just about my entire life.

Saturday finally came around and we had an errand day of biblical proportions planned,  filled with an eclectic mixture of stops that took us in a huge circle around Denver. Halfway through our journey, we were headed in the direction of downtown on the way to Hat Collection in Denver Pavillions to exchange my Bowler and realized our stomach were making their pitch for a mid-day meal. I jumped on my phone and headed straight to the Find Me Gluten Free app to locate a place to silence our noisy stomachs.

One of the first places on the list was 5280 Burger Bar, located exactly where we were headed, Denver Pavilions. Rich said he had heard good things about this handcrafted burger place and simultaneously came to the realization that he needed a burger. I can always eat a burger, so 5280 Burger bar, based on location and gastronomical desire, became our choice. The only thing left to decide was hat or burger first. Yeah, hat first.

My Homburg!

My Homburg!

At the hat store I encountered news that turned my smile in the opposite direction. The Bowler, in my size, was gone. If only I had a smaller head I thought. The gravity of this news was beginning to settle in as I saw another black hat that sported the same red feather my now departed, too-small for my head Bowler. The possible replacement hat was a Homburg and was similar to the Bowler in that it too was black, had a red feather and was a hat. It had a lot going for it. Really, the primary difference was that I would be gaining a gutter crown and losing a round crown if I chose the Homburg. I really liked the round crown of the Bowler and had visions of myself running around the Denver Art Museum trying to create confusion aka The Thomas Crown Affair.  But, that was not in the cards for this impulsive person, because for that to happen, I would have had to WAIT for them to get more Bowlers in the store. Nope, not going to do that. I left the hat store with a red-feathered Homburg and I was happy.

Now, time to eat (and get to what you are here for anyway). If you think about it, the top bun on a burger is much like a hat. It sits on top of the stack of meat, veggies and condiments and adds another layer of flavor to the burger, just as a hat adds personality and a “layer of flavor” to an outfit. Even though gluten free buns are easier to come by in restaurants more now than they used to be, I generally do not partake of them because they usually add way too much “breadiness” to the burger and mask the flavor that I really interested in: the meat. Given that, I passed on the 5280 Burger Bar gluten free flatbread option. In retrospect, I really should not have done that. I needed that experience to share with you. I am sorry and the next time I have the opportunity to try a gluten free bread product in a restaurant, I will not let you down.

But gluten free flatbread isn’t the only offering that makes 5280 Burger bar a welcoming place for the gluten free. Fries. I really don’t need to say much more do I? If I say fries, then I MUST mean gluten free, not cooked in the same oil as other breaded items, fries. And yes, I am saying that. It is rare, although a bit more common lately, to find French fries in restaurants that are truly gluten free. And when I do, I eat them; a lot of them.

I didn’t realize how much I missed partaking in a regular dose of fried potato sticks until I took my first bite from the basket of large fries Rich and I shared. 5280’s fries are freshly cut in-house from Organic Yukon Gold potatoes and you’ll taste the freshness and handcrafting with every crunchy, potatoey bite. I prefer to eat French fries dipped in a perfectly balanced combination of ketchup and mayonnaise (both made in-house as are all of their sauces) that when merged with the fry, causes a taste sensation in my mouth that can only be described as mind blowing. For me, the combination of mayonnaise and potatoes rivals perennial favorites such as peanut butter and chocolate, Oreos and milk and of course, eggs and bacon.

Okay, I have carried on way too much about a condiment (well it is much more than just a mere condiment to me but maybe not to you and I get that), now to the really good stuff: the meat. 5280 Burger Bar offers burgers handcrafted from ground beef, turkey, chicken, bison and quinoa. They use only fresh, all-natural ingredients and their lack of a freezer is evidence of their commitment to freshness.

When you encounter 5280’s burger choices, you will have a difficult time deciding on just one. You will have 12 burgers creations to choose amongst, ranging from The Wedge, a classic wedge salad that adds beef to the party, to The Boss Hog, which is really pork squared with a side of beef. And, if that’s not enough to boggle your mind, each burger creation allows for your choice of beef, turkey, chicken, bison or quinoia. If I actually liked math, I would be able to tell you how many combinations were possible with all the available ingredients, but, since I am not, I will just say, a lot. If you really can’t fathom all the options of the burger creations, then choose the last option, The A**hole, a burger made any way you want it, because as the menu says, the customer always knows better!

Being dairy free makes my “what the hell should I order, everything sounds too good” decision a bit easier. Many of the burgers work best with the dairy options they were created with and I don’t want to mess with that, or be left out of the flavor party the chef envisioned when he created the burger for the menu. So, I chose wisely: The Mighty Mushroom. Beef, sautéed seasonal mushroom, Swiss cheese, red leaf lettuce and garlic aioli. It had mayonnaise; was there really any other choice? I left off the cheese and added bacon, of course. My first bite of this bun-less wonder confirmed to me that every restaurant should have a dedication to fresh ingredients like 5280 does. Not that I really want “unfresh” ingredients but there are different levels of freshness when it comes to food. Sort of like a freshness continuum with “straight from the farm” is on the far right and “canned goodness” on the far left. Both are considered “fresh” but as with many food labels, so much is left for interpretation.

Because 5280 Burger Bar only uses Colorado beef that has never tasted hormone or antibiotic laced feed, you experience a depth of beef flavor that you don’t taste with commodity beef. The gently crunchy carmelization on the outside of my burger flavorfully introduced my taste buds to the beefy, fatty flavors that were discovered inside. If you love beef like I do, you will appreciate the burger creations at 5280. Next time you have a craving for burgers and fries, consider 5280 Burger Bar! And, if you have the time, go to the hat store too.


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