Warren White from The Screening Room, one of my dealers from St. Louis, told me they were staying in the Cherry Creek area just around the corner from this little bar called The Cherry Cricket. He said, "You would not believe how good their burgers are. They are the best I've ever had."
I asked if they were better than O'Connell's Pub in St. Louis, a longtime well-known place for burgers in St. Louis. He said, "Oh, they're ten times better."
I took this as a personal challenge. It's been quite some time since I've had a burger at O'Connell's (or as the locals in St. Louis affectionately call it, "Oc's"), but I remember them having a damn fine burger. So I had to try it out for myself.
One night after the show was over and we were through with a hospitality room that we were sponsoring, I took a group of colleagues back to the hotel and decided to go to The Cherry Cricket and get a burger. One of my colleagues from Canada, Ian, had overheard the conversations I was having earlier with other members of The Screnning Room staff and he asked if I was going to go get a burger by myself. I told him that I was. He said, "Well, I can't let you go to that place by yourself."
So, Ian went with me.
The place was kind of cramped, lots of 20-something kids inside (it was about 9:30 on a Friday night). You could tell it had been there for a while. And it had.
The Cherry Cricket was opened in 1950 at it's present site (it had been in business since 1945, first known as Mary Zimmerman's bar). Mary owned the bar until her death in the early 60's. It went through a number of owners until Bernard Duffy, who owned a downtown Denver bar called Duffy's Shamrock Bar, bought it in 1965. No one is sure if the people before Duffy renamed it The Cherry Cricket, or if Duffy did. One thing for sure, Duffy put up the large neon sign that is outside the Cherry Cricket.
Bernard Duffy retired in 1972 and the bar went through a number of other owners before Eli McGuire (a woman - Eli is pronounce Elly) bought it in 1990. The bar had been illkept and a severe update was needed. Eli has now grown the business to what it is today - a nice little neighborhood bar that makes great burgers.
Ian and I both ordered a cheeseburger with smoked cheddar cheese and a side of chopped fresh jalapenos. Ian got some bacon on the top of his burger. We didn't wait very long before they showed up - maybe 7 minutes tops. Served in baskets, we took a bite.
From the first bite it was an epiphany. The second bite was orgasmic. The third bite almost made me faint. Their burgers were everything the guys from The Screening Room said they were and more.
The next day, Ian and I couldn't quit raving about how good the burgers were at this place. It was so convincing that after we left our hospitality room on Saturday night, we took four colleagues with us to The Cherry Cricket. Each of us had a burger. It was unanimous - it may have been the best burger we'd ever had.
The Cherry Cricket uses 85% lean ground round for their burgers (I use 90% for mine - I may have to change). They're charbroiled and you can order them from rare to well done (I got mine medium - it was pink in the middle and juicy as all get out).
Once again, the bun makes the burger. It was lightly toasted and flaky. It soaked up all the juices from the burger and didn't fall apart. It was absolutely fabulous.
The Cherry Cricket burger may have been the best burger I've ever had. Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger in Ann Arbor, MI may have nudged it out as the best ever. Hands down, it's one of the top 3 burgers I've ever eaten.
(Update - Over the years I've eaten at a lot of burger places. But Cherry Creek has absolutely the best burger I've ever had. Period. It continues to be the top-ranked burger on my annual Best Burger list.)