Denverites go go go all year round, but come summer there's really no stopping us. Good thing we have these 12 superb sandwiches to come along for the ride (or hike, or climb).
Pastrami on rye at Masterpiece Kitchen
First it was the Taylor pork roll and seared ahi at Masterpiece Deli. Then it was the fried chicken at Royal Rooster, Old Major’s lunchtime pop-up. And now Justin Brunson’s making sandwich magic yet again with the best pastrami in the Rockies. “Mouthwatering” doesn’t begin to describe the achingly luscious brisket that he and chef Ben Shapiro brine, rub and smoke over the course of 10 days before piling with Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Thousand Island dressing on toasted rye. It’s essentially the Reuben variant known as a Rachel, but it’s a masterpiece by any name.
84 Rampart Way, 720-324-8873
Beef-bacon sandwich at Bar Dough
Think you’re bored with brunch? Better go to Bar Dough. For this jaw-stretching, multi-napkin marvel, Max MacKissock glazes smoky braised beef belly with caramelized onions, then layers it on a sesame-seed bun with thick-cut bacon and a fried egg. It's all garnished with sweet-pickled onions, sliced red chiles and arugula, then plated alongside fingerling home fries that will forever spoil you for ho-hum hash browns.
2227 W. 32nd Ave.; 720-668-8506
Perfect egg sandwich at Vital Root
We didn’t name it, but we’ll vouch for the description on the breakfast menu at Justin Cucci’s brand-new-but-already-buzzing Berkeley cafe. Cooked in curried ghee for a subtle kick, the main ingredient forms a nifty sort of omelet patty, light and fluffy atop terrific (yet gluten-free!) house-baked sunflower-seed bread, which is covered in chile-walnut oil to deliver another, stronger kick. Feta, tomato and avocado pull it all together in rise-and-shine style.
3915 Tennyson St.; 303-474-4131
The Italian at Brider
We wish we could leave a blank here to indicate just how speechless this monster makes us. (Or a smear to indicate how drippingly juicy it is.) The crew at Acorn’s fast-casual LoHi sibling has been roasting the meanest porchetta around since day one; now they’re showcasing it in one heck of a muffaletta with mortadella-like salame rosa, provolone and olive-giardiniera relish on a crushable sesame roll. Pair it with the crisp, lemony house ginger beer – your palate’s going to require some cleansing.
1644 Platte St.; 303-455-3084
Grilled cheese at Hudson Hill
No kitchen, no chef, no problem: All this suave new Cap Hill haunt needs to make a game-changing grilled cheese are four killer ingredients and a little ingenuity. Owner Jake Soffes halves a Marczyk’s baguette lengthwise and folds it backward so the crust is on the inside – what? – where he overlaps thick-cut slices of sharp, nutty Parmesan and funky Shropshire Blue. Then he slathers more European-style butter on the outside than you probably want to think about and toasts the whole thing in the press for longer than seems necessary. But it will all make sense after just one crunchy-gooey, intensely savory bite.
619 E. 13th Ave.; 303-832-0776
Shrimp toast at Sugarmill
Raising the bar on avocado toast with this open-faced beauty, chef Ryan Witcher sets chimichurri-sautéed shrimp atop guacamole-smeared sourdough, then adds fresh veggies, herbs and a touch of olive oil and sea salt. Voilà: Simple yet dead-sexy lunch is served.
2461 Larimer St. #101; 303-297-3540
Grilled asparagus and chicken-fried steak sandwiches at The Nickel
When The Nickel opened at the Hotel Teatro a couple of years back, we deemed its burger an instant classic. That was no fluke, as these lunchtime gems show. The smoke-tinged, grilled asparagus on 16-grain bread (pictured at top) is a study in bold contrasts, from the peppery arugula to the punchy pimiento cheese spread. And the house-baked pretzel bun can barely contain those fat nuggets of batter-fried steak pictured above, tricked out with aged cheddar, bourbon-honey mustard and pepper jam.
1100 14th St.; 720-889-2128
The Carolina at GQue Championship BBQ
Barbecue isn’t known for its subtlety, but award-winning Westminster pitmaster Jason Ganahl’s unusually light touch may well be what sets him apart on the competition circuit. It certainly distinguishes the fragrant, almost delicate pulled pork and cool coleslaw gracing this staple.
5160 W. 120th Ave., Westminster; 303-379-9205
Mediterranean chicken sandwich at Il Porcellino Salumi
At this stellar Berkeley deli, every sandwich rocks harder than the last; the most recent addition to the menu's proof. On a chewy hoagie roll, harissa-rubbed and roasted chicken thighs come chopped and mixed with not only housemade hummus, tzatziki and lemony tahini dressing but also local feta and arugula – so it’s really jam-packed with sunny, pungent flavors.
4334 W. 41st Ave.; 303-477-3206
Colorado lamb torta at Work & Class
Chef Dana Rodriguez’s rotisserie mastery defines this RiNo shrine to slow-cooked meats, and it shines right through the torta on the current happy-hour menu too. Stuffed into a locally baked bolillo roll, her lamb al pastor is oh-so-juicy and tangy with adobo and pineapple pico de gallo. If you like a little pain with your pleasure, by all means ask for a side of salsa de árbol – but go easy. We guarantee more than a drop or two is going to leave a mark.
2500 Larimer St.; 303-292-0700
The Beast at Glazed & Confuzed
We can’t fathom what made G&C owner Josh Schwab think of combining twice-smoked bison brats, German-style braised cabbage and Cuban-style mango mojo — inside a donut, no less. But that’s why he’s the chef: The whole salty-sweet mess is delicious.
5301 Leetsdale Dr.; 303-524-9637