Molly Martin

Spinelli's opened in Park Hill in 1994, and is a friendly neighborhood market stocked with essentials as well as some gourmet finds. For a varied assortment of hot and cold sandwiches, head directly to the deli counter in the back, and don't forget to grab a pickle once your order's up. In a nice twist, Jake Riederer, owner of the now-closed sandwich concept Open, is working at the market these days and has brought back its popular spin on a French dip, the Lee, which comes with a spicy Sichuan peppercorn dipping sauce. More Open throwbacks could make an appearance on the menu board in the future.

Kristin Pazulski

Tucked into a back patio at the end of a thin walkway and pinched between a couple of old Five Points buildings sits Duke's Good Sandwiches. Flanking the walk-up order window are old photos of famous Dukes of history, from jazz musicians to actresses, but the real stars are on the menu: a streamlined four-sandwich list of Italian sausage, meatball, Caprese and the main attraction, the Chopped Cheese. That last option is an old-school New York City delight consisting of griddle-cooked ground beef and white cheddar cheese melted into gooey harmony and folded into a soft hoagie roll. Here, though, it also comes topped with fresh onions and crunchy pepperoncini. "Good" is a massive understatement.

Linnea Covington

Denver is lucky to have a lot of great French dip sandwiches available, but for a stellar classic version, head downtown to Frank Bonanno's French 75. First, there's the hoagie roll itself, which comes from the restaurateur's nearby bakery, LoDough. On top of that soft, chewy bread sits a heap of shaved, mid-rare rotisserie-roasted sirloin. The final kicker is the umami-rich jus to dip it in, not to mention the pile of crispy fries. Bonus: The $21 sandwich is huge, and it could, if you have the willpower, last for two meals.

Kevin Kirshner

When the original Music City Hot Chicken opened in Fort Collins, there were no other restaurants in Colorado specializing in the regional dish from Nashville that's exploded in popularity since. Now hot chicken is everywhere, and Music City brought its version to Denver in 2021 with an outpost inside TRVE Brewing. These hefty sandwiches are available in varying spice levels, from heat-free classic Southern and a mildly hot green chile seasoning to "flammable solid." As a bonus, you can score one (plus a bag of chips) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays for just $6, with the option to add a 10-ounce beer from TRVE for $3 to cool your tastebuds.

Linnea Covington

There's a reason we were salivating for Eddie Renshaw and Evan Pierce's King of Wings to open up again after a December 2021 kitchen fire and permitting delays forced it to pivot to smashburger pop-ups to stay afloat. But while Snipeburger was a hit (and one the owners plan to bring back), the chicken wings are simply the best around. Each order gets grilled — adding a deep, smoky essence and a charred caramelization to the skin — before being doused in one of ten sauces, including Thai BBQ, bourbon Buffalo or tangy gold. Visit the now-reopened Wheat Ridge location, which doubles as a taphouse, and watch for a second location to open in Golden soon.

Noble Riot

Noble Riot in RiNo is one of Denver’s best wine bars, especially if you’re into sipping — and talking about — fun, funky fermented grapes with a bunch of equally enthusiastic vino lovers. That may not sound like the kind of place you’d also hit up for fried chicken, but Noble Riot serves up a seriously good take on the classic, with a thick, crackly crust that also happens to be gluten-free and pairs perfectly with a glass of sparkling Le Monde Ribolla or a light and airy Grüner Veltliner.

Courtesy The Post Chicken & Beer

Back when Big Red F had Lola, it introduced an unusual brunch entree for a Mexican coastal seafood spot: a great chicken-fried steak smothered in chorizo gravy. Today the space that was once home to Lola is one of the Big Red F's Post Chicken & Beer, but Lola's great chicken-fried steak remains a hallmark of the brunch menu. The gravy is now the more traditional, but still tasty, country kind that comes with all the actual chicken dishes, but here it accompanies Texas toast, brunch potatoes, an over-easy egg and collards.

Molly Martin

The fast-casual Gaia Masala & Burger offers straight-up Indian dishes, a smattering of Mediterranean entrees like falafel and shawarma, and a handful of burgers. But dig deeper into the menu and you'll find the really exciting stuff: neon-orange tikka masala cheesesteaks; a burger topped with mint, cucumber and tikka masala sauce; and (our fave) cheesy masala fries served plain or piled with a choice of chicken, lamb or cheesesteak. The best part? You can dig into these loaded fries until 2 a.m., as Gaia is one of the few Denver eateries open 'til the wee hours.

Molly Martin

Atomic Cowboy, Fat Sully's and the Denver Biscuit Company make up a three-in-one concept that has grown to seven locations and is known mainly for towering biscuit sandwiches and giant slices of pizza. It also serves up an unexpected item known as the Lights Out Burger. And it's perfect: Two smashburger-style patties, aged American cheese, housemade pickles, a layer of minced onions and a tangy burger sauce are all loaded onto a garlic butter-toasted brioche bun. The resulting burger is greasy in all the right ways and completely impossible to put down until every drippy bite is gone. It also rings in at just $8.95, and is an even better deal during happy hour, when the price drops to six bucks.

Steuben's

The green chile cheeseburger at Steuben's has been on the menu since Josh Wolkon opened the restaurant in 2006, and there's no plan to ever change that. The original inspiration came from a manager at the now-closed Vesta Dipping Grill, who tapped into his New Mexican roots to bring a taste of his childhood to the Denver spot, adding chopped Hatch green chiles and American cheese to the beef patty. The whole thing comes on a soft brioche bun, and you can add any combo of tomato, onion, mayo, lettuce and mustard. But even without the accoutrements, the balance of smoky chiles, melty cheese and fatty beef make this burger a winner.

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