Remember Madison Street? They sold burgers to the Congress Park neighborhood, were loved by some and were unnoticed by many. Now they have emerged, like a butterfly, as TAG Burger Bar. They got a lot more color (on the walls) and a powerful new menu, but what precipitated this miraculous transformation? Troy Guard, owner of TAG and TAG Raw Bar (of Larimer Square), was an operating partner of Madison Street. Acting on Madison’s Street’s success with burgers and his own desire to start a “burger joint,” Troy rolled up his sleeves helped them rename and refocus the restaurant. He created a menu that takes the burger (starts at $7) to the next level. Actually, there are five “levels” ($2, $3, $4, etc) or upgrades to choose from.

For +$2 you can get something simple, like the “Old School” with American cheese, grilled onions and TAG sauce, or the “Dock of the Bay” with lettuce, tomato and parsley caper remoulade. Pay +$3 and you can get the exotic “One Night in Bangkok” with green papaya slaw, crushed peanuts, mint and lime Sriracha aioli. Shell out +$4 and now you’re really talking. The “Menage a Trois” comes with Gruyere, Grey Poupon and “French onion soup” onions. Go loco with “Los Chingones” with Baja slaw, chicharrones (fried pork belly fat, like bacon but better), griddled coitja, black bean puree and Cholula aioli. I had the “Godzilla,” a pile of shiitake mushrooms and tempura flakes slathered in teriyaki sauce, like its namesake it was huge and nearly unstoppable.

Or, if you really want to test Troy’s chops as a burger-meister, you can order the +$20 “Andrew Jackson,” which includes pork belly, a fried egg, truffle aioli, bone marrow salt and crispy chicken skin. That’s right, just the skin. The preparations for this presidential burger are prohibitive, hence the prodigious price tag. It may be expensive, but you won’t find anything else quite like it in Denver.

I also loved the fries with pico de gallo and Cheez Whiz. They were brought to us on accident, and a good thing too. I would have never ordered anything off the menu that listed Cheez Whiz as an ingredient. But the fries were amazing, and refreshingly different from the usual truffle fries, sweet potato fries and so on. The cheese and the sweet little bits of tomato made for a perfect plate of fries with no ketchup at all. They’ve also got daily specials, baked potatoes, salads, hand-made milkshakes with booze and fried Oreos! Go now, burger lovers, and taste what’s new!

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