Hamburger America: Bud's Bar in Sedalia, Colorado
Burgermeisters! Here's another excerpt from George Motz's book Hamburger America. George and his publisher were kind enough to allow us to run them here, along with George's beautiful photos. We'll be running one every other week. Eat up! —The Mgmt.
Bud's Bar is one of only a few businesses in the small downtown of Sedalia, Colorado. The 60-year-old bar sits between two busy railroad rights-of-way that are only a few hundred feet apart. It's not uncommon to be stuck at either crossing for longer than 20 minutes waiting for a long coal or cattle train to pass. "Some guys walk out, see the train, and say 'oh well!' and head back inside for another beer," Mike Steerman told me. Mike should know. He owns the place.
The burger at Bud's is a classic, griddled, quarter-pounder with American cheese on a white squishy bun. It's absolutely amazing and transcends the standard notion of bar food. The burger bursts with flavor and is one of the juiciest griddled burgers I have ever eaten.
People go to Bud's for two reasons – because they know everyone in the bar and for the burgers. Outside of drinks at the bar, Bud's has served only burgers since the beginning. "It's simple," Mike explained, "We don't offer lettuce, we don't offer tomato, and we only use one kind of cheese." Fries? Nope. Chips will have to do. But trust me, you'll be focusing on this burger and nothing else.
The burgers start as 80/20 chuck hand pressed in a single patty maker. They are cooked on a smallish flattop griddle in a bright, clean kitchen next to the bar. As a burger nears doneness, both halves of a bun are placed on the burger and covered with a lid to steam the bun to softness. Your order is served with a bag of chips and a slice of onion in a plastic mesh basket lined with wax paper. "That's it," Mike told me, proud of the simplicity of his product. Locals in the know request jalapeno slices that Mike has stashed in a small jar in the kitchen.
Bud's interior is cozy and simple. The small, square box has a bar on one side lined with vintage stools, booths on the other side, and a few tables in the middle. An original jukebox sits just inside the front door and one wall displays a unique item – the branding board. Of course, being from New York I was very intrigued by the branding board, something that probably seems mundane to a ranching community. The idea is simple – It's a long piece of wood attached to one wall of the bar that displays actual cattle brands of the local ranchers. Brands are of fairly intricate design and obviously each one unique, which makes the branding board a viable piece of 'bar art'. Also, one glance at the board and you are reminded of just how close you are to fresh beef.
5453 Manhart Street, Sedalia CO 80135
Hours: Mon.–Sat., 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Hamburger America is available at Amazon and comes with a DVD of George's movie of the same title.