Olive & Finch Eatery & Bakery
Danielle Lirette

Olive & Finch is so much more than a sandwich shop, but chef/owner Mary Nguyen builds such amazing meat-and-bread constructions that most sandwich-only spots pale in comparison. Many of the choices are named after Nguyen's friends and family, so choose from the Luca, an Italian stack; the Bennett, a veggie mix with sweet basil pesto; or the Cashman, which combines roast beef and caramelized onion with Brie and horseradish aioli. Our favorite is the Greggers, a messy pile of beef tongue cooked for six hours and then topped with garlic, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers and tarragon aioli. In a stroke of pure sandwich genius, Nguyen puts many of the sauces on top of the meats and veggies instead of underneath, so the bread doesn't get soggy and the flavors come to the forefront. Get to know these creations on a first-name basis.

Readers' Choice: Stack Subs

Best Sandwich Shop to Rage Against the Machine

Parsley

Parsley
Photo by Johnny Molfetta

Just thinking about the mostly vegetarian grub at Jason Bailey's Golden Triangle lunch spot gets our mouths watering and our feet headed for Parsley. We're big fans of the texture tuna and hummus sandwich, as well as the scratch-made soups. But what really turns us on is the management's dogged distaste for corporate fascism. That temperament starts with lovely green touches: on-site recycling and composting, for example, along with a rooftop garden and mostly organic menu items. Rebel morale slinks out of the kitchen and onto the walls, which are pasted with civil-penalty notices — check out the Museum of the Late Fees — and art for non-conformists. And just so you don't forget your core values when you leave his store, Bailey also hawks a fantastic line of "Feminist as F*ck" T-shirts. Thanks for fighting the good fight, Parsley.

East Side Kosher Deli
Courtesy East Side Kosher Deli Facebook

During his two-year tenure as owner of the venerable East Side Kosher Deli, Joshua Horowitz has been carefully revamping the deli counter and grocery store. And earlier this year, he took things to the next level, gutting the establishment and reopening with a fresh cultural aesthetic and a mouthwatering menu that incorporates a healthy ration of smoked meats — brisket, turkey — along with something unexpected: sushi. An on-site sushi chef rolls out 100 percent kosher sushi, relying on clever alternatives for no-nos such as shellfish. He didn't reinvent the wheel entirely, though: Diners who wander in for the classics will still be greeted with matzoh-ball soup and one heck of a pastrami sandwich.

Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Que
Danielle Lirette

Coy Webb may be Texan by birth, but he embraced Colorado as the inspiration for the menu at his busy south Denver barbecue joint. Webb and his wife, Rachael, keep the neighborhood — and a small army of barbecue tourists — fed with slow-smoked lamb and bison as well as more traditional beef brisket and pork shoulder and ribs. Housemade bison green-chile sausage (elk sometimes shows up, too) adds Rocky Mountain appeal, as do sides that are just different enough to raise an eyebrow while keeping with tradition. The coleslaw is spiked with lime and cilantro, the cheddar mac is studded with poblano chiles, and even the potato salad gets a little Southwestern flair. Head over for weekly specials like brisket tacos, burnt ends or smoked lemon-pepper trout, but head over early, because Roaming Buffalo nearly always runs out of food before dinner.

Readers' Choice: Moe's Original Bar-B-Que

Blue Pan Pizza
Paul Joyner

Choices, choices. We first fell in love with Blue Pan Pizza because of chef Jeff "Smoke" Smokevitch's rectangular Detroit-style pies, crunchy on the edges where the cheese caramelizes onto the pan, light and airy in the middle and topped with high-quality ingredients like prosciutto di Parma, San Marzano tomatoes and Tender Belly bacon. But then we tried the floppy New York-style slices and fell in love all over again. And the decisions got even more difficult when we branched out with the Chicago cracker-thin crust and a chewier classic Italian, and found we loved those, too. While a table can be tough to score on a busy weekend night, the pies travel well, so takeout is always an option. But it's fun to be part of the action in this pizzeria's lively, bustling dining room, where wine flows by the bottle (some pretty good ones, too, for a tiny pizza joint) and the pizza keeps coming out of the kitchen in all the shapes and toppings we crave.

Readers' Choice: Racca's Pizzeria Napolitana

Vero
Laura Shunk

According to proprietor Andrea Frizzi, Vero was born when Central Market developer Ken Wolf asked the Italian chef if he knew anyone who could do pizza. "I said, 'Dude. The fuck?'" recalls Frizzi. And he signed the lease for a market stall the next day. Vero offers Milanese-style pizza, which is thinner and crispier than its Napolitano cousin, and topped considerably more creatively. (Frizzi says Milanese pizzas in Italy can be topped with oddities like hot dogs and french fries.) Vero's crust is cracker-crisp, with a nice yeasty complexity; we like ours simply adorned with tangy tomato sauce, bubbling mozzarella and biting fresh basil, though pies here come topped with everything from ricotta and egg to tuna and olives.

Readers' Choice: Racca's Pizzeria Napolitana

Crush Pizza + Tap
Mark Antonation

Chicago-style pizza isn't everyone's bag, and some folks get all red in the face while proclaiming that it's not even pizza. We say: Relax. What's not to like about a buttery, flaky crust, a good, garlicky tomato sauce and a blizzard of mozzarella cheese that forms molten banks against the high edges of the pan? We like Chicago-style even more when it's served at Denver Deep Dish, which nails the basics while bringing a little Southwest to the game with a green-chile-topped pie. What's even better? Deep-dish pizza for brunch, with scrambled eggs topped with all manner of breakfasty goodies, including Denver's own Tender Belly bacon and Polidori sausage. Enough with the Windy City hate; it's time to get with Denver's own Chicago-style pie.

Readers' Choice: Blue Pan Pizza

Ohana Island Kitchen
Laura Shunk

Ohana Island Kitchen's tiny storefront space is perpetually warm and sunny, fitting for a restaurant that takes its inspiration from the Hawaiian islands. While Denver is suddenly swimming in poke, this lunch-only joint's version rises to the top. Raw tuna is the anchor of Ohana's short counter-service menu, supplemented by other Hawaiian treats like Spam musubi (a bit like a Spam sushi roll) and Hawaiian king sliders (slow-cooked pork on Hawaiian sweet rolls). But we can't get enough of the spicy poke, whose crowning touch is the textured pop of tobiko roe mixed into spicy mayo. This simple menu begs to be replicated, and we'd be happy if we saw an Ohana in every neighborhood. As it is, though, Ohana is such a catch for LoHi that it often runs out of poke altogether.

Readers' Choice: Illegal Pete's

McCoy's Restaurant
Mark Antonation

Watch daybreak over Denver or sunset over the Rockies from this all-hours eatery's perch above I-70 on Federal Boulevard. Slide into a vinyl booth or swivel on a stool at the counter while you wait for your chicken-fried steak or smothered burrito. The lonely lives of truckers, the frantic conversations of angst-ridden teens jolted with java, the slow shuffle of guests in their golden years: These are the sights and sounds of McCoy's every night of the week — sights and sounds that come with a free mini-loaf of bread and whipped butter. Pull an all-nighter with no-nonsense waitresses in this classic diner that hasn't changed in decades, then greet a new dawn with a Tequila Sunrise.

Readers' Choice: Denver Diner/Pete's Kitchen (tie)

Snarf's

With development on a tear in Denver, we're lucky that any mature building manages to survive this growth spurt. And we're lucky that Snarf's is doing its bit. Whether the Boulder-born sub chain acquires an old-school brick storefront in the University of Denver neighborhood or a dreamy Googie relic on West 38th Avenue, Snarf's knows how to treat vintage Denver right. Next up? Snarf's will turn a vacant Sinclair gas station into a sweet neighborhood hangout on South Broadway.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of