100 Favorite Dishes

100 Favorite Dishes: Meatloaf Sandwich at City Bakery Cafe

No. 35: Meatloaf Sandwich at City Bakery Cafe
Last January, Denver bread master Michael Bortz expanded his City Bakery concept to include a full breakfast and lunch cafe on Lincoln Street. The City Bakery Cafe has been serving breakfast pastries, egg sandwiches, soups, and hot and cold deli sandwiches since then to an ever-growing customer base. Daily and weekly lunch specials are a big part of the draw; a recent sandwich on the specials board caught our attention with its homey charm and hearty appeal. The cafe's meatloaf sandwich looks simple enough, but Bortz's attention to detail lifts the humble ingredients to crave-worthy heights. "I come up with the bread first and then build around it," he explains.

Because of the recent cool, wet weather, he was contemplating baked potatoes and came up with an idea to capture their roasty flavor in a loaf of bread. Starting with a base of City Bakery's sourbread dough, Bortz bakes potatoes with a coating of olive oil and salt and throws them whole into the mixer with the dough. "You can see flecks of potato skin in the bread," he notes.

The meatloaf itself is an old, East Coast recipe made with ground beef from Marzcyk Fine Foods. The meatloaf is placed between layers of Tillamook smoked cheddar and then the whole sandwich is grilled until crispy, buttery and golden on the outside. Just the right amount of fat from the tender meatloaf mingles with the cheese to extend the gooiness, making each bite a delectable mingling of beef and tangy cheddar. If that's not enough, the sandwich comes with a side of thick mushroom gravy for dipping and a garnish of sour cream and chives.

Somewhere between a meaty grilled cheese sandwich and a patty melt with an extra boost of flavor, City Bakery's meatloaf sandwich is perfect for cool, rainy weather, but is good enough to be worth a trip to the cafe even on warmer days. This week was only the second time the special has run, but the cafe sold out of meatloaf —  ten pounds of it — by closing time. Bortz says he will probably add the sandwich to his list of rotating weekly specials due to its popularity; in the meantime, call ahead to see it's on the board. And if it's not, Bortz is always cooking up something delightful. For example, he just whipped up a batch of sourdough enhanced with roasted garlic and rosemary that will serve as a base for a grilled chicken sandwich with basil pesto mayo.

Although the Best of Denver 2015 edition is out, we'll keep counting down the contenders for the best dishes in the city in advance of Westword's Dish event on September 20, where many of our Best of Denver winners — along with other favorites — will congregate to serve up small plates. If there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section, or shoot us an e-mail at [email protected]

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our countdown are linked below.

No. 100: Chile Relleno at La Fiesta
No. 99: Gurage Kitfo at Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant
No. 98: Cochinita Pibil at Work & Class
No. 97: The Greggers Tongue Sandwich at Olive & Finch 
No. 96: Baum Cakes at Glaze by Sasa
No. 95: Goat hot pot from Viet's
No.94: Head cheese from Beast + Bottle
No. 93: Kettle Chips from Amerigo Delicatus
No. 92: Pork Belly Confit at Solera Restaurant and Wine Bar
No. 91: Tacos Campechanos from La Calle Taqueria
No. 90: Biscuits from Denver Biscuit Co.
No. 89: Clams and Chorizo at Gozo
No. 88: Aburi Sushi at Sushi Den and Izakaya Den
No. 87: Kimchi and Sausage Torta at City, O' City
No. 86: Mar y Tierra Molcajete at Paxia
No. 85: Crispy Pork Spare Ribs at Table Top
No. 84: Chips and Dip at Euclid Hall
No. 83: Chile Relleno Burrito at El Taco de Mexico
No. 82: Scallop Crudo at Stoic & Genuine
No. 81: Ceylon Curry Dosa at Khazana
No. 80: The Lambada Torta at La Torteria
No. 79: Pork Bulgogi at Dae Gee
No. 78: the Pulled Pork Pig Pen Sandwich at Boney's
No. 77: IPA Mac & Cheese at Hops & Pie
No. 76: Chiles en Nogada at Chili Verde
No. 75: Udon Noodle Bowl at Bones
No. 74: Cinnamon Rolls at the Duffeyroll Cafe
No. 73: Smoked Turkey Croque-Madame at Acorn
No. 72: Pickled Lake Michigan Perch at Trillium
No. 71: Oysters at Jax Fish House Glendale
No. 70: Venezuelan Tostadas at Empanada Express Grill
No. 69: Tahini Cauliflower from Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs
No. 68: The Ham and Cheese Tartita from Maria Empanada
No. 67: Ronnie's Favorite from Rosenberg's Bagels and Deli
No. 66: Shoo-fly Pie from the Long i Pie Shop
No. 65: Czech Potato Pancakes at Sobo 151
No. 64: Fried Chicken at the Post Brewing Co.
No. 63: Braised Brisket Sandwich at Masterpiece Delicatessen
No. 62: The Scotch Egg from Argyll Whisky Beer
No. 61: Butternut Squash Ravioli at DiFranco's
No. 60: Sesame Balls at Vinh Xuong Bakery
No. 59: Curry Puffs at Suvipa Thai Food
No. 58: Diavola Pizza at Pizzeria Locale
No. 57: Chorizo Breakfast Stew at DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe
No. 56: The Rare Beast Sandwich at Salt & Grinder
No. 55: 48-Hour Short Ribs at Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery
No. 54: Marrow Bone Brulee at Mercantile Dining & Provision
No. 53: Prawns and Pork Belly at Blackbelly Market
No. 52: Belgian Waffles from Waffle Up
No. 51: Nashville Hot Chicken at Lou's Food Bar
No. 50: Breakfast Burrito from Chickee's Lil Kitchen 
No. 49: Monkfish and Romanesco at TAG
No. 48: Cabeza Tacos at Taqueria El Trompito
No. 47: Pupusas Revueltas at Pupuseria San Salvador
No. 46: Sesame Pockets at Golden Plate II
No. 45: Tuna Mousse at Cart-Driver
No. 44: Tavern Tots at the Highland Tavern  
No. 43: Carne Asada Fries at North County
No. 42: Pho at Wonderbowl
No. 41: Shredded Bison at Tocabe
No. 40: Nachos al Pastor from Tony Guacamole
No. 39: Prosciutto Pop Tart from Bakin' Bakery
No. 38: Ham and Egg Congee at Onefold
No 37: Lao Sausage at the Asian Cajun
No 36: Pan Bagnat from Fuel Cafe