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Downtown's Bingo Burger is a gamble worth taking

One day, you find yourself starving and downtown, so you're sitting at Bingo Burger. You've just used your credit card to pay for an hour of parking near Acacia Park, waited through a pretty short line while admiring the bingo motif on the walls, and now you're sitting at a tall, long center table with number O68. The table's made of reclaimed basketball court, and the stools are pretty comfortable.

Looking around the sparkling dining room, you see a soda fountain full of cane-sugar soda from Boylan Bottling, an organic-ketchup dispenser, and six beer taps bearing the markings of Red Leg, Bristol and Pikes Peak brewing companies. Over 20 other bottles of Colorado beer are also for sale, and you can even get some of that Infinite Monkey Theorem canned wine. But mostly, you're excited about your burger.

First food on scene, though, is your reward for being a free American: a coffee-ice-cream shake loaded with Baileys Irish Cream ($8.50). The ice cream's made by Colorado City Creamery and it's thick — almost too thick to suck through a straw — but you persevere for obvious reasons.

Then comes the pièce de résistance, a double-pattied monstrosity called The Steel City ($12.25). Six inches tall, it's held together by a perfectly round brioche bun from Ivywild School's Old School Bakery, which you can also get gluten-free. In between glistening patties ooze thick layers of cheddar over fat slices of bacon. After managing a bite, you find its rich wallop is offset by some crunchy organic vegetables grown in Colorado, in much the same way that the sinking of the Titanic was offset by some lifeboats made in Ireland.

But, and here's where it starts to break down, it's hard to take a second bite because half the burger has fallen out the back. Or your burger might be full of aioli, and now your fingers are encased in it. The bun doesn't always hold together well, either, meaning it's time to grab a fork and get down on some bread-burger salad. And after you've grabbed a bite of patty and recombined it with some of that thick, smoky bacon and maybe a bite of avocado, the whole thing has devolved into a sloppy mess.

This might only be the case if you order one of the restaurant's Legendary Burgers, which are appropriately mind-blowing to behold if equally frustrating to eat, but for us it was the case almost every time. The Steel City is epic, and fantastically gratifying, but it's a bitch to get a bite of.

The Tejon ($10.50) deliciously combines ground Colorado lamb with goat cheese, mushrooms and lemon-rosemary aioli, and it's the latter that I ended up wearing. The ground chicken on the Blackout burger ($9.75) tasted drier than typical breast meat, though the rest was great as long as I could get the bacon, Swiss, nine-grain bun and guacamole into a single bite.

The St. Mary's — beef laced with Pueblo chilies, Pepper Jack cheese, a fried egg and bacon — actually held together well. But the egg was cooked all the way through, robbing us of the main sexy yolk action. Which is another problem: inconsistent food. The fries ($2.50 to $4.75), made with San Luis Valley potatoes, might be steaming hot and crisply killer one day, but soggily disappointing the next. Despite preferences being checked at the register, our burger temps also varied, with a brownish medium being the standard, but varying overall from pink to overdone.

These are not necessarily deal-breakers. (In fact, the same problem of over-stacking has hardly kept people away from Bingo Burger's five-year-old Pueblo location.) But the prices add up fast: One order of two burgers, a large fry, an alcoholic shake and a beer came to $51 after tip. So you'd better believe the fries should be poppin' hot and perfect every single time.

There's so much to love about the restaurant, though. Beyond anything else, you just feel cool sitting there with your craft beer and craft burger — which, incidentally, is more manageable to eat as a simple build-your-own ($6 to $8.75). The sourcing is about as impeccable as it gets, and the restaurant's commitment to sustainability includes recycling plate-ware, and building with those up-cycled materials, like the church-booths-turned-benches. The open kitchen keeps things lively; the music, by The Great and Wonderful Johnny Cash one day, is kicking; and staff does an excellent job of checking on you. And let's not forget that the fries, both regular and sweet potato, come with badass house sauces like smoked rémoulade and cranberry barbecue.

So, basically buyer beware. But, you know, do buy.

  • Downtown's Bingo Burger is a gamble worth taking

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