I have been to CityGrille (321 E. Colfax) before, only once, with my friend Dylan, who I went with tonight. "Denver's Best Burger". That doesn't mean a whole lot to me, as I don't eat burgers with any regularity, and frankly, all the burgers I eat are good. It does come on ciabatta bun, not even round, at least mine wasn't. It was somewhat ovoid and the burger seemed that shape as well, so, you know, bigger, and hence tastier and more worth it. We went on a Monday, which is Burger Madness Nite. They also have Crab Cake Nite, Spaghetti Nite, some kind of Steak Nite. They're into that kinda thing, "Nites", which my friend Perry rails against as being too gimmicky, too "cliche bar", and perhaps too Denver (especially when it's spelled "Nite").
It's right there in the heart of Capitol Hill Colfax, all walks of life. I ride my bike and am reminded that there are no places to lock up a bike on this block, save the narrow and feeble looking metal poles that support the gargantuan and extraneous awning (it doesn't rain here) advertising the restaurant. So I walk another block and lock up to a parking meter in front of the cathedral. It's windy again.
On the way up we get asked for change and I give my usual response "sorry man I don't have any cash" which as per usual is a lie. The guy kind of follows us up to the entrance under the awning, asks us how our night is, and I get a different kind of feeling from him, like he's more like me or more like my peers in some way, just a guy in his 20's who needs some money for whatever reason. There was more than just a spark of recognition and intelligence, and I felt some guilt when I realized that I am the kind of person who would give money to an intelligent-seeming person before a "typical Captiol Hill bum". But enough about my issues.
Walking up to the awning I see Dylan has arrived and he and Kristin are shooting the shit. Two other people are leaning on the wall smoking, and the guy who needs a little help asks them for a cigarette and one of them gives him his whole pack. He says "really, the whole pack?" and it's cool and he's happy and there's laughter and I think about the irony for a second, the exchange of a cigarette, no, a pack of cigarettes(!), how that makes people happy but it doesn't really help.
Inside is busy, like really busy, really crammed with people. For some reason the second room is closed so there are tables jam-packed with people eating their burgers. I already know I'm here for Burger Madness Nite, which is a burger with choice of side and either PBR, Bud, or Coors Light (why not Bud Lite or Coors?). For god knows what reason I get a Bud. Dylan asks why. Why would I get a Bud over PBR? He thought PBR was the hipster choice, he wonders if things have changed and maybe he should have ordered a Bud. All of those beers are absolutely terrible to me, so it doesn't really matter.
The waitress is Eee-ficient. They have to be. They wear uniforms of black tees and short shorts. We mean nothing to them. The beer comes and I sip and recoil. Worse than expected. I sip Dylan's and I can now attest that PBR is better than Bud. Bud is sweet-ish and grainy and the recollection of recently watching Beer Wars (watch it!) is making it taste even worse.
The burger comes. Medium with cheddar, coleslaw on the side. Yellow mustard, no ketchup. And grilled onions! Oh my. I think onions are a really useful food, but anyone who knows me knows I hate them raw. 86 onions. But sauteed they are sweet and oily and more roasted garlic-like. I get another beer to wash it down (PBR this time) but now my beer experience is ruined and I should've just shelled out for the Fat Tire. But oh well.
This place is frantic. It's not a place to savor food, which is too bad because the ciabatta bun and yellow mustard and grilled onions and burger are so tasty. My main beef with this place?: I'm in a room, maybe 15 x 20, and there are six tvs. This is not, ostensibly, a sports bar. Yet there are six tvs, three of them on the same wall, the wall I am facing. And they are all playing the same thing. Yes it's sports. Yes it's the Nuggets. Three television sets, facing the same way, playing the same thing. It's disconcerting and distracting. I can't figure it out. Why play the same thing? The three other tvs are all playing different things, and I'm kind of jealous of Dylan's seat, because he can't possibly know what it's like to feel what I am feeling.
When we leave I look eastward down Colfax to make sure my bike is still there, a reflex. It's fallen over, or blown over, awkwardly clinging to the pole by it's u-lock.