Best Burger: Back Door Grill
When they opened Back Door Grill in June 2014 — initially operating out of the “back door” of Ghost Ranch — co-owners David and Brandi Eliason’s vision was simple, direct and clear: offer Steamboat residents great burgers at reasonable prices.
Based on the opinions of those same residents — readers recently voted the homey Oak Street eatery as Best of the Boat’s Best Burger, ending the four-year reign of Big House Burgers — they’ve reached that goal and then some.
The secret, they say, lies in quality ingredients, a “fun and funky” atmosphere and a commitment to offering great food at reasonable prices.
“We built it for locals, not to make a bunch of money,” David says. “We wanted good burgers for our family … and we’re proud to serve our guests the same thing.”
Brandi is quick to agree.
“I grew up in Southern California, where everything was funky and fun,” she says. “We just wanted a place to give our kids the things we grew up with.”
After four months operating at Ghost Ranch, the Eliasons seized the opportunity to relocate to their current location — a two-story, woodframe building at 825 Oak St., in November 2014. The ground floor serves as the restaurant, while the upper level houses The Bar at Back Door, offering a juke box, a video arcade and one of the best selections of beers and liquors in town.
As a bonus, the same food is available both upstairs and down.
Boasting a burger menu that features such colorfully named offerings as the “Afterburner,” “John Wayne,” “Dirty Harry” (appropriately, served on a glazed donut) and “Triple Lindy,” Back Door has something to suit nearly every palate.
David says the phrase “fun and funky” sums up their winning philosophy, from their atmosphere to putting things like peanut butter, donuts and corndogs on burgers.
“We’re serious about the quality of the food we serve,” he says. “But it’s a burger joint … we’re not gonna wine and dine you. We’re gonna get you a burger and a beer, and that’s what we want people to expect. We also like playing around with different recipes.”
Despite their philosophy of making things fun — both for themselves and for the locals to whom they primarily cater — the Eliasons add that quality and value is serious business. “That’s the most important thing — the food,” Brandi says, adding that all their burgers are made with never frozen, 100-percent Colorado beef. “Then the atmosphere is just family,” Brandi says.
This combination has struck a chord with Steamboat locals.
“There are always people here, and that’s a good thing,” David says. “I never expected to do as much business as we’re doing.”
Spurred by this success, the Eliasons are now looking to expand. They’re putting the finishing touches on their newest venture — O’Neil Tavern and Grill — which is slated to open on Lincoln Avenue in late November, and are looking at other mountain town locations for additional Back Door Grills.
“We want to grow Back Door Grill throughout the Rockies,” David says. “We’re both from the beach and love the mountains.”
From the look of things, the mountains love them back.
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The 20th anniversary season of Opera Steamboat will kick off this month with a new series, the “Variations Piano Series,” bringing world-class pianists from across the country to Steamboat Springs.