Best Sandwich Shop Without a Sandwich Shop

Pirate Alley Po'Boys

Best Sandwich Shop Without a Sandwich Shop
Mark Antonation

Pirate Alley is one of Denver's best-kept sandwich secrets. There's no dining room, no order counter, no sign other than a sidewalk chalkboard. Chef Kyle Foster closed his Southern eatery, Julep, late last year, but he moved the sandwich side of the business into the kitchen of Stir Cooking School, owned by his wife, Katy. The stars are a fried shrimp po'boy and a roast beef debris po'boy, both dressed and messy in classic New Orleans fashion. You can also go Surf & Turf with shrimp and beef, or keep an eye out for seasonal specials like a killer soft-shell crab sandwich. Order online and then pick up the goods at the door in the actual alley behind the cooking school. But don't keep it a secret — tell all your friends, and their friends, too!

3215 Zuni Street (at Stir Cooking School)
Best Sandwich Shop for Bagels
From the Hip Photo

When it comes to bagels, Rosenberg's owner Joshua Pollack has everyone else in town beat. So when he builds a sandwich on those stellar bagels, they're bound to be good. Add cured meats and smoked fish all made in-house, as well as top-notch local products like ham, bacon and sausage on the breakfast sandwiches and other quality ingredients rounding out lunchtime offerings, and it's no wonder there's always a line. While Rosenberg's has been operating as a takeout-only deli at its two locations since March 2020, the bagel sandwiches are just as good, and will disappear almost as soon as they're in your hands.

Best Hamburger
Mark Antonation

A restaurant's name is an unlikely place to find the word "scrap," given that it generally refers to the stuff chefs throw away. But Sullivan Scrap Kitchen chef/owner Terence Rogers is dedicated to using as much of everything in his kitchen as possible. The no-waste approach makes a kitchen crew think about each ingredient, utilizing everything to its full potential rather than relying on standard preparations that add up to less than the sum of their parts. As a result, the burgers, made with Colorado grass-fed beef or lamb, stand out for their pure, meaty flavor in combination with local products like River Bear bacon and housemade pickles. Even if you didn't know the casual eatery's mission, you'd still recognize a great burger from the first bite.

Best Bar Burger
Mark Antonation

First, a great bar burger must be cooked up in a great bar — and the Castle definitely qualifies. Inside the cheesy, Castle-like exterior is a massive sunken bar, surrounded by captain's chairs where regulars can make themselves comfortable, enjoying cheap drinks while they wait for their juicy, half-pound, hand-pattied bar burgers, topped with everything from barbecue sauce to a respectable housemade green chile. Come in on Tuesday for the burger deal...but be prepared to wait.

Best Chicken Sandwich
Courtesy of Chicken Rebel

There's so much crunch to Lydie Lovett's fried chicken sandwiches at Chicken Rebel that you'll likely be wearing a little of your meal after you eat it. Under that shattering crust you'll find the juicy, flavorful chicken requisite for any sandwich worth its sauce. Get yours with buttermilk ranch, bacon and avocado, or go with the Firebird for a brisk slap of heat. There's even a breakfast version with bacon and an egg, so you'll never have to wonder which came first — because the chicken and the egg hit your mouth at the same time.

Best Chicken Wings
Courtesy of King of Wings

Eddie Renshaw and Evan Pierce played it safe when they swapped out their King of Wings food truck for a brick-and-mortar eatery and bar: They built the kitchen on the outside of the restaurant when they opened last year. Not only did the shipping-container kitchen work to their strength — flame-grilled chicken wings — but it helped them build a business during the pandemic. The smell of cooking chicken and the reputation of the food spread in equal measure through the neighborhood, resulting in a growing fan base of loyal wing eaters drawn to not just the wings, but the ten saucy flavors offered, everything from Buffalo to spicy Thai. Add beer and sports on TV, and you've got everything you need to feather your nest.

Best Wings of a Different Feather
Mark Antonation

Josh and Jen Wolkon's Asian eatery and ping-pong hall is tough to pin down from a culinary standpoint, since it serves great food from a number of Asian countries. Chef Thach Tran does everything with equal style and skill, so you can't go wrong with anything on the menu. But you shouldn't leave Ace Eat Serve without an order of Tran's wings, which come as sweet, salty and tangy Tiger wings, or as Korean fried wings in spicy gochujang sauce (though you can get them naked, too). Either choice leads to plump, juicy wings and sticky good fun.

Best Fried Chicken
Courtesy of The Post Brewing Co.

At four locations and growing (including a Fort Collins ghost kitchen and new restaurants in the works there and in Estes Park), Dave Query's flock of chicken shacks (two with their own breweries) consistently fries up the best bird on the Front Range. Chef Brett Smith came up with a mouthwatering recipe for the dredge back in 2014, when the first Post opened in Lafayette — and it's gluten-free, in large part to achieve the loudest crunch for the buck, but also to ensure that as many folks as possible can enjoy the delicious bird. Whether you prefer fried chicken on the bone or in a sandwich, every meal at the Post feels like a family picnic, with great chicken, stellar sides and plenty of cold beers, including Top Rope lager and several other great brews made by the Post Brewing Company.

2200 S. Broadway 1258 S. Hover Rd., Longmont
Best French Fries
Mark Antonation

Last year was a bad one for the humble French fry. Hot and crispy don't hold up well in takeout packaging, and as a result, many otherwise great fries were left limp and lifeless after being taken to go. So why not put those fries in a spot where potato power makes a big difference but crunch doesn't? That's what Tacos Tequila Whiskey owner Kevin Morrison did last spring when he launched his Burro Rito pop-up — first in the temporarily closed Fish N Beer (his RiNo seafood joint that has since reopened) and then at his taquerias. The full Burro Rito menu was retired this year, but a couple of favorite burritos remain — in particular, the SoCal Rito, a two-fister wrapped in foil and loaded down with carne asada, French fries, guacamole, pico de gallo, Monterey Jack and sour cream. Fry problem solved — with delicious results both in-house and for the road.

Best Nachos
Mark Antonation

Does using Doritos for nachos automatically score the win, or is it just a cheap trick? We say the answer is both. Doritos really aren't that tasty on their own, but they look appealing, especially when piled with spicy ground beef, pickled jalepeños, pico de gallo and a healthy ladle of queso dip. And, okay, all that fake cheese dust does boost the flavor of nachos and helps the other toppings cling to each perfect triangle. As a result, these nachos are trashy-good, which is probably just the way Cochino Taco wants it.

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