There is a learning curve for every new restaurant, one in which the staff learns how to make all of the pieces – the kitchen, the bar, the wait staff, the bussers, and the like – come together seamlessly. Right now, Burger Theory, Durango’s newest burger spot, is in the midst of that curve.
Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, mind you. It is what it is. Nothing is perfect, especially not in the beginning, and that’s pretty much what I’d say to summarize our recent visit to this little spot, located at the Holiday Inn on 160 West, well off the main drag in Durango.
We stopped by Burger Theory on a Saturday afternoon at an off time, hoping that we’d miss any rush and therefore avoid kinks in the burger food chain. It can be tough for new servers to navigate the floor the first week in, especially when they’re double or triple sat, which weighed heavily on our minds when planning when to stop by.
It was about 2 p.m. when we arrived at the Holiday Inn/Burger Theory spot, and despite the copious amount of cars in the parking lot, we were the only people in the restaurant. To be fair, it was the day before Cinco de Drinko, so that may have had something to do with the empty restaurant. Perhaps people were pregaming it elsewhere. We grabbed a table by the bar and took in the scenery.
Burger Theory does a couple of things right, and one of them is the decor. I was impressed to see how modern and clean the new Burger Theory looks. There are high top tables throughout the restaurant, and the bar and adjacent wall are covered in TVs, which were tuned into a soccer game, MTV Classics, and a news channel respectively. The bar appeared well-stocked, and there was even a list of drink specials displayed on the counter ... but with no bartender in sight. (This will come into play soon. Please stand by.)
We were greeted quickly by our waitress, who gave us our menus and took our drink order. A quick glance revealed a concise menu – it’s your typical burger-hot dog-chicken fare – but offers, according to their Facebook page, 4,320 burger possibilities and a fun selection of Colorado craft beers for create-your-own burgers, in addition to a handful of specialty burgers. We ordered three beers from what looked like a decent beer list – there are options from Oskar Blues and other Colorado breweries, which is nice – and a Sprite.
First issue? The bartender. Apparently you can’t get a beer without a bartender at Burger Theory, but he wouldn’t be able to grace us with his presence for 10 minutes, according to our waitress. No biggie. Waiting a few minutes for beers isn’t a huge deal. We do it at bars all the time.
We put in our food order – a classic burger with American cheese and all the typical fixings, a breakfast burger with a fried egg, and a farm fresh burger with roasted red peppers, grilled onions, and Boursin cheese on a lettuce wrap. Still no beers.
It took about 15 minutes longer for a bartender to arrive, and when he did, we were told they only had two of the three beers we ordered, which was surprising considering the burger joint had only been open a week. Mine, of course, was the one out of stock. I ordered a Coke instead. It arrived shortly thereafter and was completely flat. No carbonation to be found. Water it was.
It wasn’t much longer after that when our food arrived. To be fair to Burger Theory, our food was pretty good. Everything came out correctly, including that mess of a farm fresh burger on lettuce, and the bartender, who had at some point taken over waiting on our table, was attentive. My burger, the classic, was cooked to the right temperature, and the fries, while lukewarm, were seasoned perfectly. Both of my dining partners agreed that their food was “pretty good.” Overall, a positive review on that.
I’ll be interested to see what becomes of Burger Theory once they’ve gotten over that gnarly learning hump. I think this place has potential, but it’s in a tough spot, and things are still a little prickly. The food is good, though – we’ll likely be repeat customers, even with the beer and flat soda debacle – and I’d imagine if it can get better with time, these guys will have some staying power. A good burger spot always does.
Angelica LeichtBurger Theory is located at the Holiday Inn at 21636 Highway 160 West in Durango.