A great burger is one you have to wrap both hands around, it can often cause a little juice to run down your wrist as you go to take a bite of the seasoned beef, held securely in place by a chewy bun and a few select toppings. A great burger is washed down with an ice-cold drink and often paired with crispy fries that are seasoned with just enough salt that your tastebuds crave a few more after every bite of burger.
Great burgers are easier to describe than find; even in a city that has enough burger joints to dine at for a month straight without repeating. I had high hopes for the two-year-old, highland tap and burger in the lo-hi neighborhood of denver because it has so much going in its favor; a killer location, an energetic atmosphere and an awesome beverage list with tons of local beers on tap. Sadly, every visit I have, there is something always off and sadly most of the errors are with the food.
The 'piece de resistance' of a burger joint is the burger. Htb's classic is the lto; a 1/3lb hand-packed locally sourced angus patty topped with lettuce, tomato, sweet red onions and a slice of american cheese. While the burger had good seasoning, it was over-cooked both times I ordered. More offensive in my book, is how small the burger is in comparison to the size of the very dry bun, nearly a 1/2 inch in diameter larger than the patty. On another visit, the very friendly waitress encouraged me to order the root beer pulled pork sandwich. Sadly the moist and flavorful pork was lost in the extra dry bun it was served in. I feel like the issue with most of the sandwiches is the source that htb gets their buns, not the contents within them. I do need to give credit to htb's house-made fries. They are crispy, flavorful and rank pretty high against their competitors (in my book) but I am not sure this side is enough to make up for the multiple missteps in the food.
The quintessential burger joint must have a great burger. It's that easy. Highland tap and burger would be a major contender in the burger scene if the food could step it up a bit. Yet, what I find ironic about this place is it is always pretty full. The bar is always packed with people bellied up watching a game, girlfriends chat around a table with craft beers in hand and even in the late hours, people stop by for a quick meal. I guess this location is unique in the sense that the food is not the shinning star and people are okay with that. So, if you are in the neighborhood and willing to grab a decent meal in a great location, highland tap and burger is your place to be, and you will not be alone.