By Lori Midson
Chef and restaurateur Troy Guard (TAG, TAG Burger Bar, Guard and Grace and Bubu, formerly TAG Raw Bar), along with partners Joe Vostrejs and Rod Wagner of Denver’s Larimer Associates, unveil their newest project, Sunnyside Burger Bar. We stopped in for a sneak peek and, as expected, Guard’s burger-punctuated menu is full of notable beginnings, gut-busting middles and happy endings.
1. From an old-school pizza joint to a contemporary burger bar.
What was once a gritty pizza parlor that slung slices of pepperoni has been beautifully revamped into a modern burger mecca bedecked with soaring lumbered ceilings accented with spiral ductwork, ebony-hued park benches, a wall mural with verdant lettuce leaves, wood shelves stocked with jarred pickles from the Real Dill and bottles of yellow mustard, polished flat-pebbled concrete floors, and a sexy centerfold bar that’s smack-dab in the middle of all the action, which extends to the patio, separated from the interior by a trio of garage doors.
2. It’s all about the handcrafted burgers.
Thirteen burgers grace the menu, all of which are playfully titled: Hippy Dippy (roasted beet root, arugula, basil aïoli and dabs of goat cheese), Hipster (housemade pimento cheese, spinach leaves and Tender Belly bacon), Garden of the Gods (a black bean patty topped with kale, quinoa, avocado, sunflower seeds and chipotle aïoli) and the shove-it-in-your-mouth-now Yankee Rose (grilled onions, potato chips, “secret sauce” and government cheese, aka good ol’ American). Burger buffs can choose all-natural beef, free-range turkey, Colorado-raised bison, Pacific salmon or a vegetarian option, and all of the burgers have suggested beer pairings from a list that includes 19 craft beers on draft, two of which are brewed exclusively for Sunnyside by nearby Diebolt Brewing Co. Don’t want beer? Booze-lubricated shakes, 12 wines by the glass and seven cocktails round out the libations.
3. Wait! The board goes way beyond burgers.
Sunnyside serves a selection of starters, including a stellar spread of nachos fanned across a baking sheet (the burgers are delivered on baking sheets too), as well as fried pickles paired with a chipotle ranch dipping sauce. Sides, including hand-cut, skin-on fries, fat onion rings and sweet potato fries, are tucked into logo-branded fry boxes, while salads — there are five to ponder — are heaped in recyclable bowls
4. A new breed of quick-casual service that morphs into full service.
A galvanized aluminum arrow, a throwback from the 1940s, beams with white marquee lights and points diners in the right direction, namely along the parameter of the bar, which doubles as a single line for drinks and food. Order a beer, glass of wine or Moscow mule, pay your tab and then move on down the queue until you reach another counter, where you place your food requests. You’ll get a number, and a host will guide you to your table. Once you’ve settled in, there’s no reason to leave your perch. Servers deliver your food, and if you decide that you’re craving another beer or a repeat platter of nachos, just let them know — they come equipped with an iPad — and they’ll take care of your every whim. In a nutshell, the streamlined service model is designed to eliminate the inconveniences of having to get up every time the mood hits.
5. Hurray for a patio and easy parking.
An urbanized patio, furbished with umbrella-shaded tables and lime-green chairs, offers a citified oasis for dining under cobalt-blue skies, and in a neighborhood where wheel space is at a premium, the 30-car parking lot eases the burden of hoofing it.
Sunnyside Burger Bar is located at 3759 Lipan St.; hours are daily from 11 AM.
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