Madison Street is no more—long live Tag Burger Bar. Madison Street, the neighborhood joint that opened nearly one year ago to date, reopens today at lunch as Tag Burger Bar. The refocus and rebrand came naturally: 80 percent of the sales at Madison Street were burgers, so Troy Guard, chef and part owner in the operation, decided to give people what they want. In his heart, Guard always wanted to own a burger joint, but he wasn't going to pursue that. Tag Burger Bar, however, made Guard the owner of a burger restaurant through a very fluid process—the guests almost demanded it.
What is different at Tag Burger Bar? First, the space got a makeover without Madison Street ever closing or missing a beat. During the day, when the dining room was not in use, banquettes were reupholstered into a pleasant charcoal black, space dividers between the banquettes were removed allowing for a more open layout, and graffiti got added to an entire wall inside the restaurant and a big wall outside. The graffiti, executed by local graffiti artists, provides both signage and a unique identity to the restaurant. What else changed? Behind the bar, a strip of beer taps was added in a place previously occupied by glass shelving that held some of the liquor. The glass was taken down and an oxidized metal wall was placed behind the shiny new dozen beer taps to serve as a display board for milkshake specials and other special offerings.
Tag Burger added a milkshake bar that includes a variety of toppings from nuts to gummy bears. A complimentary and innovative program to the milkshake bar is the adult milkshake, a cocktail-menu of sorts that includes six booze-spiked shakes. "I am a product of the 80's and I like things like Red Bull and Jagger and I now can have them in my milkshake," Guard said of the Rock'n Roll All Night milkshake, which has vanilla ice-cream as a base. Other boozy milkshakes include the Caucasian, a combination of vodka, Kahlua, and vanilla ice-cream and the Kentucky woman, which features bourbon, sea-salt caramel ice-cream, and strawberry ice-cream.
The bar program also includes wine, mixed drinks and a variety of beer-based cocktails.
The main focus at Tag Burger is on burgers and beers. There are now 20 beers on tap available. Beer pairings are suggested with each of the burgers. The burger menu is a build-your-own: you get to choose your protein, then you choose your style, a formula that gives the meat various toppings and condiments like Congress Park, made of crushed avocado, lettuce, tomato, and buffalo-style mayo or Los Cingones that includes Baja slaw, chicharones, griddled cotija, black bean puree, and Cholula aioli.
The menu also includes bistro specials, larger plates that feature Baja fish tacos and fried chicken, among others, selected because of their popularity on the Madison Street's menu. Other non-burger menu highlights: deep-fried pickles, beef brisket nachos, hand-cut crispy fries that come in four different ways, and the Kung Fu Panda salad.
"Let's have a great time tonight. There will be some mistakes and that is ok. What matters is that you give your energy into the vibe of the restaurant, into its personality, into its food. Who doesn't love burgers and fries and shakes? It is simple- not fussy or pretentious," said Guard at the all staff meeting last night right before hungry guests began to pour in for the soft opening. To motivate and inspire, the staff went outside, held hands in a giant circle and shouted TAG, a sound that the LoDo sister-restaurants could almost hear from across the city.
Tag Burger Bar will be open for both lunch and dinner seven days a week, a happy hour menu will be added, and brunch will continue to be served both Saturday and Sunday.