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  • The Denver Dish

Third Time's a Charm: DBB to the Third Power

I boast in the fact that I've been to each of The Denver Burger Battle's three vintages- ever since its inception in 2010. Initially the DBB caught my attention in the middle of the Denver Burger Boom, as Smashburger hit the local scene, as well as Larkburger, Park Burger, HBurger, and so on. Not only that, but even the finer breed of restaurants began offering gourmet burgers on their menus and bringing in the average Joe for an above and beyond sandwich. Enter 2012. Two years later, even as one might say the burger buzz has subsided, I have proof that Denverites still love a good beefwich. And many are even willing to mow down on 12 in one night, for the ever daunting task of naming Denver's Burger Battle champions. Drumroll please...

Now before we get to the results I'd like to say that though the title of this post may off-handedly diss the last 2 years' events, that is not my intention. I have no complaints thus far, except for the fact that my personal burger idol passed up on the opportunity until now. But in truth, this time around the event itself did top its predecessors handily. Gorging on 12 mile-high burgers, on the mile-high turf that our Blue & Orange call home basically covered the bases for me. Avery, Great Divide and Breckenridge adorned the scene with hops and spirits, and I felt like a proud local again.

As I walked into the Mile High Stadium tunnel and onto the field, I could hear the crowd chanting my name as I slammed the last burger on the game-winning drive. But here I was staring at 1st down and 12 to go. Taking advantage of limited crowds with early-access VIP tickets, my buddy Brandon and I quickly made our way through a few brews and about half of the burger booths. After talking strategy on how to spend less time in line and get through each burger before our bodies rejected us, we took down each offering with sound judgment.

There were a few that stuck out above and beyond the pack, and while I don't wish to slight any of the entries I'll highlight the notables with an ode du foto:

My first burger of the night from The Sink. The "Texas Onion Straw Burger" had an appropriate goo factor with two cheeses, but also packed a kick in the face with fresh jalapeno and chipotle aioli. A good start to a long rap sheet.

Mateo made Boulder proud by breaking and entering into a Denver event- with a French Onion burger topped in herb aioli and gruyere cheese

Larkburger on a log- the "Bacon Truffle Cheddar Burger. Topped with truffle aioli, applewood smoked bacon and Tillamook cheddar (according to Lark, the only cheese you need), I'd say a very fair offering for their DBB debut. But will a traditional approach bring home the bacon?

Park Burger rolled out a new one for me with El Mariachi- Roasted Hatch chiles, pepper jack, jalapeno cream cheese and pico de gallo. Spicy. Will the 2-time Judge's Choice champion do it again?

...even the outfits matched the burger. That's commitment.

Row 14's offering of the Colorado Yak Burger won weirdest meat of the night for me- but weird was good in this sense, with a fine balance of char, gaminess and smoky fat. An 'Ode to In-n-out' it included charred onions and a cheddar secret sauce.

A selection of heirloom tomatoes that eventually fulfilled their destiny atop Row 14's entry

The burger I've continued to dream about since Highland Tap & Burger won People's Choice at last year's battle with the "Shroom Luvas". Atop a perfectly cooked patty sits garlic sauteed mushrooms, truffled aioli, emmenthaler swiss, and foie gras shavings. All night long it was the most flavorful up front, and it's no surprise HTB finished top 3 in both Judge's and People's Choice. It also got my personal vote- I can't get enough of this one.

This year's event went green- by saving a plastic tree or two. Instead of attendees voting with a poker chip, the ballot was automated via touchscreen console. In turn, the event flowed well, and results were almost instantaneous. But there were also less cowbells and erupting cheers coming from the competitors, since all votes were secret. As a voter, it took the pressure off a little bit and took the bias out of my decision. All is fair in love and battle. 

An unruly crowd awaits the final tally... and the winners are...

The DBB rookie Larkburger! Even though they didn't get my personal vote, I agree that this is my favorite day-to-day burger in town and their Judge's Choice hardware was well deserved. And People's Choice goes to...

... the burger that speaks for itself- Crave Burgers' towering winner "The Wiseguy"! It included prosciutto, heirloom, fried mozzarella, basil and balsamic. After I unhinged my jaw to enjoy this, I would concur with the masses that it was one fine wich, and also a well-deserved award. Full results here

With Crave and Larkburger bringing home this year's trophies, only 2013 will define whether or not they defend their titles. Or perhaps Highland Tap or Parkburger (who rounded out 2nd and 3rd in both categories) will reign supreme once again. All I know, is that the coveted title plays no favorites. And based on the variety of accolades over the years, it's apparent that D-town still has a rockin' burger infrastructure. Until next time burger battlers, and Dish It Up!

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