Famous Pizza
Mark Antonation
Famous Pizza was an institution in this town thirty years ago, and this outpost is still a must-stop for anyone in need of a quick lunch. For five bucks, you can get two slices of whatever's in the box -- which is bound to start with a classic New York thin crust, no matter what's on top -- and a Coke and be fed and out in about ten minutes, depending on how fast you can shovel in the food. For those with more time on their hands, well, you're on Broadway, baby. Use your imagination.
Ba Le Sandwich
Mark Antonation
Banh mi -- Vietnamese sandwiches with a distinctively French twist -- are the plats du jour here, every jour of the week. There are a dozen or so varieties available at the counter, from classic pork pt with pork and more pork to spicy pork and barbecued pork and even all-vegetable offerings, all mounted on dwarf baguettes that have the distinctive delicacy of masterful baking. No matter what's on your sandwich, it costs just $2.50, which should leave plenty of change for an iced Vietnamese coffee or lychee soda.
Pat's Philly Steaks and Subs
The best way to judge a sandwich joint is how you order there. At a decent sandwich joint, you'll order lunch. At a good one, you'll order lunch and maybe a little something extra for dinner. But at the best sandwich joint, you'll empty bank accounts and max out credit cards in order to buy enough food to feed you and ten of your closest friends for a week -- even if you don't have ten friends who need feeding or a fridge big enough to hold the leftovers. At Pat's, ordering everything on the board -- and then some -- is a very real danger. Salami sandwiches dressed in oil, salt and pepper; Italian grinders; hot meatball sandwiches that are the bane of every car's upholstery; the Gobbler (turkey, stuffing and cranberry mayo, served cold like perfect Thanksgiving leftovers every day of the year) -- we just can't stop. Which is how we know that this particular Pat's outlet is not just the best of the bunch, but the best sandwich joint in town -- truly deserving of its #1.
Jerry? The guy who owns this franchise-but-not-a-franchise of the South Philly Cheesesteak Company that's located in a Conoco? Yeah, he's nuts, and he'll talk your ear clean off if you let him. But he's also some kind of sandwich-making genius -- a savant, or just one of those guys with a direct line to God. Jerry's menu is long, and his little shop inside the Conoco is always busy. People come here from across the state. And Jerry never stops talking -- about sandwiches, about his customers, about conservative politics, about Philly and the East Coast, about (and occasionally to) his ingredients. But the sandwiches he makes from those ingredients! Forget the cheese-steak and go straight for the ham and provolone hoagie with razor-thin white onions and herbed oil, or the Italian with ham, capicola and real Genoa salami. Right on his menu, Jerry says that this is the best hoagie you can buy in Colorado, and he's not lying.
Buenos Aires Pizzeria
The best Cuban sandwich in town -- a miracle of pork, pork and pork, Swiss cheese, sharp mustard and pickles on lardy grilled and pressed bread -- just happens to be made at Buenos Aires Pizzeria, an Argentine joint best known for its pizza, empanadas and gnocchi. Weird? Maybe in any other city, but in Denver, it's just another example of the small culinary miracles you can discover when willing to go the distance to find something done right.
Cowbobas moved to 940 South Federal Boulevard in early 2016.
Corn dogs, gravy fries, grilled cheese sandwiches, T-bone steaks and boba tea. Of all the freaky fusions created by Denver's odd patchwork of ethnic neighborhoods, Cowbobas -- a Vietnamese cowboy steakhouse built, stocked and staffed without a hint of retro irony -- may feature the best. You can feel the Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese and American cultures rubbing up against each other every time you sit down here, order a steak -- choice, the preferred grade of backyard grillers everywhere, tasting of blood and gristle and char -- and baked potato and salad with a side of fries, then get your vacuum-sealed plastic cup of iced Vietnamese coffee with a Day-Glo panda on it. Amenities are limited to your choice of sauces and smiles from the waitresses, but no one who claims to truly love and understand Denver could possibly resist the charms of Cowbobas.
P.B. Loco speaks directly to those soft and gushy, sacked-out-in-front-of-the-TV-watching-Transformers memories of a particularly peanut-butter-obsessed slice of the Denver dining demographic. If you don't like peanut butter...no, if you don't love peanut butter, don't come here, because peanut butter is all this place serves, in myriad varieties, in sandwiches that run from the common (chunky peanut butter and marshmallow) to the completely fucking bizarre (curried peanut butter with pickles, coconut and potato chips) and cover every inch in between. The Elvis tribute of peanut butter, honey and bananas sprinkled with bacon bits on grilled white bread with a side of animal crackers could be the most deliciously decadent taste of anyone's childhood, ever.

Best Taste of Someone Else's Childhood

Steuben's

Steuben's Uptown
Cassandra Kotnik
Steuben's, brought to us this past year by the same people who brought us Vesta Dipping Grill ten years ago, opened huge with a full board of American classics from around the country. Over the following months, it only got huger -- and today it shows no signs of slowing down. But Steuben's does have one problem: In attempting to re-create all these fiercely regional and beloved tastes of home, it's managed to piss off just about everyone from everywhere, because everyone knows that their hometown favorite hot dog/cheeseburger/barbecue sandwich/what-have-you is the best in the world and can never be copied. Still, as long as you stay away from your home turf, the Steuben's menu serves as a magical gateway to everyone else's memories of such childhood favorites as lobster rolls, spaghetti with meatballs, gravy fries and cupcakes.
The Cherry Cricket
Courtesy of the Cherry Cricket
We love green-chile cheeseburgers. We've eaten a lot of them in this city, and although none has been the green-chile cheeseburger of our dreams -- that exists only at the Owl in New Mexico -- the Cherry Cricket's green chile cheeseburger is darn good. Part of that can be attributed to the atmosphere in which it's served: aggressively anti-Creek. More can be attributed to the fact that the burger comes properly charred, and covered with those hot, sweet chiles. And perhaps most of it can be attributed to the Cricket serving the ultimate liquid sidecar for a green-chile cheeseburger: two bottles of Genny Cream Ale and a Bushmills back.
Bud's Cafe & Bar
Lori Midson
Bud's Bar served the best bar burger last year, and ten years before that. Odds are pretty good that this small, insanely popular, biker-friendly roadhouse will serve the best bar burgers ten years from now, too. For decades, it has served nothing but burgers, and that single-minded focus has paid off with a two-fisted American classic that puts Bud's ahead of all the rest.

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