The first thing I did upon learning I would be moving to Colorado Springs was research the food. Well, that and how much sales tax would be (2.9% in case anybody is wondering). In my first barrage of asking friends, relatives, random people at running events, and good ol' Google I came across a little burger joint know as Crave Real Burger. A few minutes later I was searching for a website and what I found filled me with a warm feeling inside both my heart and my gut. Images of large messy, and quite creative burgers. It may sound strange but at that moment I knew that after moving to Colorado everything would be all right.
My wife and I finally managed to make it to Crave a few days after landing in Colorado Springs. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon when we parked at the strip mall that Crave was located. Walking in we were met by a pleasant server that quickly directed us to our seat. After sitting down I took a look around. The place had a nice feel to it, not upscale but also not fast food. It leaned more the towards the diner experience. Clean booths lined the walls, menus stacked against the wall at each booth, a la Islands. We could see the kitchen off in the distance and hear the rattle and shake of cooks flipping burgers and preparing food. The sound was actually quite soothing.
Our server appeared quickly and greeted us with a smile. We ordered our drinks and took a long look at the menu. The beauty of Crave is in the creation of the burgers. Of course you can design your own burger, but I find the creations on the menu to be so alluring that it makes you want to try them. For example there is one burger called the Popper, which I cam very close to getting. It has beer battered cream cheese and jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, onion, chipotle may and avocado. Something about the combination pushes beyond the whole novelty factor of "let's see what we can get people to eat" and enters the territory of a well thought out burger. That is probably what attracted me to Crave in the first place, the burgers aren't aimed at the hipster, new sensation, experimental crowd but you can't call them the "average" burger. They are not burgers a person dares to eat, they are burgers a person actually wants to eat.
After much consideration my wife settled on an Italian themed burger named the Wise Guy with a side order of Garlic Parmesan Fries (with roasted garlic mayo), and I ordered the Love Stinks with a side of Das Fries (beer cheese, cheddar, bacon and jalapenos). Then we sat back and passed the time examining the list of milkshakes. Some had a few interesting ingredients, such as cheesecake, and Reese's Pieces, but all of them sounded pretty good. Then there was another section of "Adult Shakes" with various alcoholic additions, such as Kahlua and Vodka just to name a few. These too sounded pretty tasty but today I was there for the burger.
Less than twenty minutes later our burgers showed up. I looked down with glee upon the Love Stinks. It contained pretty much everything I loved to put on a burger (garlic cream cheese, crispy onion strings, candied bacon, roasted red pepper, onion, garlic mayo and red pepper aioli). To say the least it was delicious. The flavors really melded well together, and the burger was cooked perfectly. The only drawback was that it didn't feel, for lack of better words, "Stinky." It felt like a burger with bunch of ingredients that were designed to give bad breath. I've had burgers before where you felt the onion and garlic as you ate it and you knew that your breath would fairly reek afterwards. It just didn't get that feeling from this burger. Not a bad burger at all, but not the intense flavor I was expecting. The Das Fries on the other hand were exactly what I was expecting. The beer cheese had tons of flavor and the bacon and jalapenos added just the right kick to the fries. It was so good that I ended up stealing a few fries from my wife so that I could sop up some of the beer cheese sauce.
My wife did let me steal a few bites from her burger. Now when my wife asked our server about the burger the server told her that it tasted very Italian. In the first bite I knew exactly what she meant. My wife's burger had crispy mozzarella (a flat chunk of it that managed to be both crispy and gooey), prosciutto, fresh basil, tomato and onion drizzled with balsamic, olive oil and pesto. It was exquisitely Italian. You could taste every ingredient in it and they all just worked together perfectly. I've had Italian themed burgers before, usually brought about by adding deep fried mozzarella sticks and a heaping amount of red sauce, this was nothing like that. This is what an Italian burger should taste like. I also tried the Garlic Parmesan Fries. At first I thought they were not bad, but then I dipped one into the roasted garlic mayo, and then the flavor hit me. It was a great addition to the Italian burger.
Would I go back to Crave Real Burgers? I'm already planning on going back there this weekend. Not only that, I am aiming to try every burger they have on the menu, and not just because they give you a free T-Shirt when you have had one of each. Everything on the menu looks delicious. There is pretty much nothing I would not eat there. A burger, maybe with an "Adult Shake", and I'm a happy man.
|Big Bad Wolf Challange, Winners Board|
Crave Real Burger
7465 N. Academy Blvd.
Colorado Springs, CO 80920