Best Chicken Sandwich 2022 | Lunchboxx | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Molly Martin

The first new spot at Denver Central Market since its debut five years ago, Lunchboxx opened in August 2021 with a slew of (mostly) healthy options that are ideal for lunch breaks. Among the offerings from chef Zach Spott (who also runs GreenSeed at the market and was formerly chef at now-closed LoDo cocktail bar Brass Tacks) is a must-eat sandwich with craggy, crunchy buttermilk fried chicken glazed with gochujang honey. It's served on a sesame brioche bun and gets a hit of brightness from cherry pepper slaw and chile lime mayo for a balanced yet flavor-packed experience.

Kevin Kirshner

Sure, hot chicken is everywhere right now. But back in 2016, when the original Music City Hot Chicken opened in Fort Collins, there were no other restaurants specializing in this regional dish from Nashville. Even though the competition has heated up, MCHC's big, juicy sandwiches, crispy tenders, vegan versions, stellar sides and varying heat levels (including a green chile-spiked option) make this the hottest ticket in town — especially since it opened a Denver outpost inside TRVE Brewing in 2021.

Molly Martin

This small, family-owned spot has been specializing in wings for two decades, and the experience shows. The wings are on the smaller side, but with tender meat, a nice, crisp bite and a whopping 46 killer sauce and dry-rub options, size really doesn't matter. Not sure where to start? The garlic parmesan is a customer favorite, while the hot honey mustard offers a sweet and tangy experience with a kick. Orders are placed at the counter, and you can go half-and-half on flavors when getting wings by the pound — an essential move if you're looking for variety. Wing Hut also has a lineup of Cajun items, including po'boys, gumbo and fried okra, but our favorite wing side remains the classic curly fries.

Linnea Covington

The slow-cooked, grilled wings at King of Wings definitely live up to the name of the place, but the business itself has had a rough go. Two friends with no prior restaurant experience started it as a food truck before opening a brick-and-mortar location in June 2020, in the midst of pandemic uncertainty. Then, as it was gaining momentum, a December kitchen fire forced King of Wings to close. The restaurant is planning a comeback, but in the meantime, owners Eddie Renshaw and Evan Pierce have let other small businesses hold pop-ups in the space.

Molly Martin

This soul-food spot is a hidden gem tucked a block off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The outside may not look particularly welcoming, with its caged-in windows and barred door, but you'll find a comforting vibe (and a bar) inside, along with a menu full of comfort-food classics including — as the name suggests — chicken. And, oh, what glorious chicken it is, fried to order and seasoned to perfection, with a thin but crispy coating giving way to moist meat underneath. Pair it with sides like mac and cheese or slow-cooked collards with shreds of ham hock for a home-style Southern feast with plenty of friendly hospitality thrown in.

Chef Merlin Verrier has experience in Michelin-star fine dining, but when it came time to open his own concept, he opted to create a funky, vibrant spot that specializes in the world's street food. Street Feud got its start at Avanti and later moved into Number Thirty Eight in RiNo, but in late 2021, Verrier finally found the right spot to open his own place, covering the walls in DIY collages and street art. Like a mixtape, the menu is loaded with hits, but the French fries stand out thanks to an extra coating of potato starch that makes them extra crispy (while remaining gluten-free) — even when you opt for toppings like braised lamb and curry aioli or crispy pork belly, kimchi and cheese sauce.

Molly Martin

There are a lot of reasons to visit Ginger Pig. With no background in the food industry (and prior careers in both sportscasting and law), Natascha Hess started the business as a food truck with the guidance of mentor and Top Chef alum Carrie Baird. In 2020, Hess debuted her brick-and-mortar location, where she cooks food inspired by her time living in China, including menu hits like arancini-like Bangkok Balls, sous-vide char siu and the Korean cornflake dog — real street food-style snacking. A Nathan's all-beef frank (the top dog of hot dog brands) is coated in a yeasty dough, crispy panko breadcrumbs and cornflakes. Served on a stick with a drizzle of ketchup and mustard plus sesame seeds and scallions, it may not be traditional, but it sure is fun to eat.

Molly Martin

How many pickles is too many pickles? At Split Lip, which has found a home inside Number Thirty Eight in RiNo, the limit does not exist. This venture started as a series of pandemic pop-ups from longtime hospitality pros who've now turned to creating a menu of crave-worthy, hyper-regional dishes full-time. While Split Lip offers several burger options, the Mississippi Slug Burger was the OG fan favorite from its pop-up days and remains a lesson in cheeseburger perfection, dressed simply with American cheese, "sawse" and, yes, a fuck-ton of housemade pickles on a soft sesame seed bun.

Molly Martin

Owner Michelle "Meesh" McGlone and her business partner, Nate Collis, are both from Minnesota (the birthplace of the molten-cheese-stuffed Juicy Lucy), and both have a background in touring — McGlone as an aerialist and Collis as the longtime guitar player for hip-hop group Atmosphere. Now they're putting their energy into this small burger joint that opened in August 2021. Here the cheese spills out in a satisfying river of orange American mixed with beefy juice from the cooked-to-a-perfect-medium-well patty. Red ketchup bottles and baskets of yellow mustard packets are readily available for those who want to add a condiment — but try it without first, in order to get the full impact of the simple yet supremely tasty combination of flavors. Just remember to take one bite, then put it down and nosh on some fries or sip your drink while the hot interior cools to a palatable temperature.

A great veggie burger doesn't have to pretend to be meat (we're looking at you, Impossible and Beyond patties). At So Radish, a plant-based eatery with an '80s video-game theme, the house burger is a quarter-pound housemade black-bean patty served on a wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, red onion, dairy-free American cheese and barbecue sauce. It's tasty enough on its own without any mock-meat gimmicks. So Radish also has a rotating "burger" of the month, so even if you visit often, you can expect fresh flavor options.

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