Bud’s Bar in Sedalia, CO (only a short 20 minutes south of Littleton) is a historic little joint that’s previously made one of Denver’s “Best Burger” lists. I went last Friday, and experienced a great burger with some interesting twists that I wasn’t expecting…
Another place you can read about Bud’s Bar is in a book called Hamburger America, by George Motz. (There’s also a film, an iPhone app, t-shirts, etc…this guy is serious about burgers.) Anyway, George traveled around the US of A reviewing burger joints and making a movie about it or something like that…and Bud’s Bar is the ONLY Colorado burger joint that made it in the book. They’ve got a nicely worn copy of it on hand for their diners to peruse.
This burger is like the primeval archetype of burgers. You want produce on your burger? Not here. All they’ve got is white onions (raw or grilled) and pickles. Lettuce? Nope. Tomato? Nope. Wheat buns, mayo, even french fries on the side? All a big NOPE. (On request, you can get a little plastic ramekin of pickled jalepenos.) So what DO you get at Bud’s Bar?
You get a burger made from the most basic, time-tested, elemental components. A burger that scoffs derisively at the over-hyped and over-priced “gourmet” burger restaurants out there. You get a toasted white bun that they source from Sam’s Club, piping hot fresh local beef from Castle Rock Meats, and molten American cheese. Ketchup and mustard are on the table. You get a bag of Lay’s potato chips also. It all comes out on a piece of white paper in a little red basket. PURE SIMPLICITY!!!
My double cheeseburger arrived at my table in all of it’s gloriously unfettered simplicity…so steamy hot that I couldn’t bite into right away…I was forced to just admire it visually whilst my tastebuds screamed in anticipation.
The cooking method is definitely worth a quick discussion, and is what introduced a few surprises for me. Here’s how they do it, and it really affects the finally product. The burger patty is made in-house, and goes onto the flat top griddle. It’s not smashed, but here’s where it gets weird. The cook places a toasted bun top onto the patty while it cooks, and this bun top apparently soaks up the grease from the patty. Then, they discard the bun top! It serves that singular purpose. Then the cheese goes on, and on top of the cheese is the bun top that you actually eat. Bud’s claims that this use-a-disposable-bun-to-soak-up-grease method is what allows this burgers to be really juicy but not greasy. I can agree, it was juicy but not greasy. All in all, quite interesting.
The next step is also a distinguishing characteristic of Bud’s: they place a bowl over the patty/cheese/bun and let it steam. (Some places do this with just the patty, like Ted’s.) Have you ever bought a hot dog at the amusement park, and it comes wrapped in tin foil, and the hot dog bun is steamed and moist? Then you’ll know how the buns are at Bud’s Bar. They are super soft, steamed, moist buns. From a review standpoint, I would consider this to be the weak link in Bud’s Bar. I like moist buns (sorry I keep saying “moist buns”) on a hot dog, but not on a burger. I’d rather the bun be toasted and springy.
Moist buns aside, I have to give a lot of credit to Bud’s Bar for their sheer simplicity and focus on lava-like American cheese and piping hot fresh beef. A little grilled onion and a dash of mustard or ketchup, and you’ve got one great way to spend $5.50.