Some people celebrate the birth of a child with a cigar or a bottle of expensive wine. My family? They celebrated my birth in a different way. They went out to Bender’s Brat Haus and brought back krautburgers for the whole family to enjoy at the hospital. Bender’s has had a special place in my life since.
If you’ve ever been to Bender’s Brat Haus, you can understand. This popular eatery on Buckley Road in Aurora always has a line of eager customers, salivating for this simple but hearty food.
The establishment has been a local icon since 1976, when Chuck Bender decided to quit his job in communications and open up a restaurant. Originally from Sheboygan, Wis., Chuck made the menu his way – simple and fresh. And that has remained the same over the years. Though the menu is small – with less than 10 main items – the restaurant has been going strong for 34 years. They must be doing something right.
Chuck sold the place in early 2000 to Jordan McCarty, who has kept the simple menu that captures patrons old and new, young and old. Everything is made fresh daily, including their famous Sheboygan-style bratwurst sandwich. Bender’s brats contain no mystery meat, no preservatives, no MSG, and use real casings. A mere 8.8 grams of fat later, you’ll feel full and content. If you’re really hungry, you might even go for the double – two bratwursts on one bun.
Bender’s also serves Italian sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs and hot ham and cheese. My favorite, of course, is the krautburger, a flavorful mixture of onion, ground beef and cabbage with salt and pepper. Squeeze on some spicy brown mustard, and you’ve got a real treat.
All items come with potato chips, but you can upgrade to one of the homemade side dishes. My favorite is the warm German potato salad. Prices are reasonable, with a Bratwurst sandwich with potato chips for about $4.40. The krautburger is a bit less at $4.25.
If Bender’s leaves you wanting more, take some home with you. They sell their homemade bratwursts, sausages and sauerkraut fresh to go. Or you can get a cold krautburger to go, and heat it up when you get home.
Bender’s Brat Haus is not a franchise, and that is part of the charm. They’ve grown out of their original hole-in-the-wall location on East Sixth Avenue to the current roomier place on Buckley Road.
Packed as it may be for lunch, it’s always a pleasure to stand in line, waiting to order, seeing, hearing, smelling what I know is going to be a treat for my taste buds. After all, it was the first meal I ever had with my family.
If You Go
Bender’s Brat Haus 700 S. Buckley Road (near Alameda Avenue) Aurora, CO 80017 303-872-3569
Monday–Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursday–Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; closed Sunday
Benjamin Rader is Director of Photography/Producer for Go World Productions.