You'd think it would be easy to find great burger joints in beef country but sometimes in Colorado it ain't so easy. My all-time fave in Colorado is Bud's Bar, but outside of this tiny bar in a tiny town south of Denver I've never had much luck. That is until this past Saturday.
I spent a few days snowboarding in the Rockies last week and naturally had a craving for apres-ski burgers every day. The Red Onion of Aspen is closed (but soon to reopen, hopefully with better burgers) and Jimmy's is a decent standby. I haven't had a burger at Woody Creek Tavern in years (though they were unmemorable) and the closest Smashburger is in Grand Junction. But just last November a new spot called Fatbelly Burgers opened in Carbondale that definitely fits the bill. Owner and ex-New Yorker Shane Vetter is making classic thin patty wonders on white squishy buns with special sauce that taste fantastic. Shane rolls fresh balls of local grass-fed beef and uses the griddle-smash method to make his burgers. "That griddle is at 500 degrees," Shane told me after I had finished my usual volley of questions. After one bite of my 1/4 pound Standard burger I immediately placed an order for another. I could have eaten a 3rd.
When Shane told me the beef was local I imagined the lots at Greeley, CO which is certainly local. Then I learned that the beef comes from grass-fed cows from Carbondale. Now that's local! His cows may even be closer to the griddle than Joe Maranto's Texas longhorns, the grass-fed cows The Meers Store uses for their burgers.
Next time I'm out there I need to try another new burger concept - Larkburger. The good people behind this local chain have invited me to taste their burgers but it will have to wait until my next adventure.