The sheer nose-to-tail bravado of these new sandwiches will knock your socks off (and maybe your hat too, in true head-to-foot fashion). Here are our favorite recent hits from around town.
Braised Short-Rib Sandwich at Honor Society Handcrafted Eatery
Though this fast-casual LoDo spot is barely a month old, culinary Energizer Bunny Justin Brunson’s already mixing things up with an even heartier variation on the steak sandwich from his inaugural menu. Now meltingly braised short rib leads an ensemble of roasted red onions and poblanos on a flax-seeded, house-baked sourdough roll spread with ancho romesco and sprinkled with arugula in lemon vinaigrette.
1900 16th St., Unit 150; 720-420-0614
Knuckle Sandwich at Blue Island Oyster Bar
This $8 happy-hour-only slider packs a punch in a the best way possible — especially if you’re a homesick New Englander. The term “knuckle” applies to lobster meat attached to the claw, and the crew at Cherry Creek’s sparkling new seafooder puts it to good use, mixing it with just a touch of mayo, lemon juice and chopped celery as well as celery seed to showcase its delicate, juicy sweetness.
2625 E. Second St.; 303-333-2462
Lil’ Kim at Carbon Beverage Cafe
What are Korean-style barbecued pork, kimchi and Japanese chile powder doing on a glazed donut? Basically being par for the wacky course at this anything-goes, all-day hangout at the edge of LoHi. Throw in an equally out-there iced espresso spiked with tonic water and lemon-verbena syrup, and you’ve got yourself a complete (or rather completely oddball-yet-addictive) meal.
1553 Platte St.; 720-428-8565
Pig-Face Panino at Sugarmill
Far prettier and more elegant than it sounds, this recent debut at Troy Guard’s beloved RiNo bakery-cafe (pictured at page top) has layer after luscious layer of porchetta di testa, apricot mustard and caramelized onions on grill-pressed ciabatta.
2461 Larimer St.; 303-297-3540
Pollo y Pollo at Poco Torteria
No one would ever accuse the man who made his name on sweet-and-sour pork-belly tacos of being a traditionalist, and Kevin Morrison’s living up to the bad-boy gourmet reputation he continues to cultivate at Pinche with his follow-up venture in LoHi’s smash-hit dining hall Avanti Food & Beverage. Though grilled chicken and salsa verde might not raise an eyebrow at your average tortería, the addition of housemade liver mousse and arugula to this weekend special would certainly make the eyes beneath them pop.
3200 Pecos St.; 720-885-5069
Mussel Slider at Wild Standard
Bradford Heap’s just-opened Pearl Street Mall magnet is already drawing seafood devotees in droves with its enchanting mix of raw-bar standards and small plates that are updated daily and presented on carts and trays by the ever-circulating, smiling floor staff. But there are a few surefire signatures in the works, and one of them is this stellar sandwich: it starts with mussels cooked in butter, white wine, onions and thyme, which are then combined with grouper meat, shallots and orange zest into patties served burger-style on a bun slathered in saffron-mussel aïoli. Consider it Exhibit A in what’s looking like an airtight case for one of year’s biggest hits.
1043 Pearl St., Boulder; 720-638-4800
Spanish-Style Chicken Sandwich at Beast + Bottle
Buddhists will tell you that freedom from aversion to change is a step on the path to nirvana. At his Uptown temple to microseasonal modern cuisine, Paul Reilly makes it his mission to test that theory by updating the menu often enough to make his more anxious fans sweat with every blissed-out bite: what if the dish they most adore today is gone tomorrow? Take this brunchtime beauty: though the combination of roast chicken, hickory-smoked ham and aged Italian sheep’s cheese on saffron-aïoli-slathered, house-baked focaccia is brand new to the menu now, it won’t be there forever. By accepting that and savoring it in the present moment anyway, congratulations — you’ve achieved gastronomic enlightenment.
719 E. 17th Ave.; 303-623-3223
Speck Ficelle at Bar Fausto
Word to the hot-date-wise: sexy though the streamlined-yet-rough-edged setting of this nightcrawlers’ darling in RiNo may be, the jaw workouts that pass for sandwiches here — stuffed to overflowing on crusty-chewy Grateful Bread ficelle — are anything but. Gnawing through the arugula-tangled mess of salty-slick ham, drippingly creamy burrata and thick-sliced pear, you’re just not going to look your most fetching. But do it anyway: romantic reveries fade fast, but the memory of a satisfying snack is forever.
3126 Larimer St.; 720-445-9691
Very Serious Grilled Cheese at Punch Bowl Social
Speaking of pears: by poaching them and placing them on ciabatta grilled with Gruyère, goat cheese and quince paste, the kitchen at this Baker guilty-pleasure palace has created a monster: thoughts of devouring its salty, savory cousin of a jelly donut will eventually start to devour you.
65 Broadway; 303-765-2695