Best of Denver

The Twelve Best New Cheap Eats in Denver in 2018

The Budlong Hot Chicken is sending good sandwiches your way.
The Budlong Hot Chicken is sending good sandwiches your way. Linnea Covington
Not every bite of delicious new food came from high-end eateries and chef's tasting menus this year. We found great food at hole-in-the-wall lunch stops, food trucks, weekend smokehouses and walk-up counters all over town. Here's our list of the best new cheap eats of 2018.

BBQ Supply Co. is equally adept at smoking pork and beef. - COURTESY STONE SOUP COLLECTIVE
BBQ Supply Co. is equally adept at smoking pork and beef.
Courtesy Stone Soup Collective

BBQ Supply Co./The Budlong Hot Chicken

2180 South Delaware Street
720-815-5571

BBQ Supply Co. and Budlong Hot Chicken are actually two separate entities, but they have one thing in common: chef/owner Jared Leonard, who brought his meat-smoking and chicken-frying skills from Chicago to Denver last spring. You'll find Leonard's mouthwatering brisket, ribs, pulled pork and other slow-cooked wonders every Saturday and Sunday in an inconspicuous little joint across the street from the Evans light-rail station. The Budlong is a food truck that provisions itself out of the same location before hitting the streets like a guided missile, delivering a payload of spicy, crunchy fried-chicken sandwiches to a neighborhood near you.  thebudlong.com
click to enlarge The pan-Latin American menu at Chocklo includes Argentinian empanadas. - MARK ANTONATION
The pan-Latin American menu at Chocklo includes Argentinian empanadas.
Mark Antonation

Chocklo

6830 South Yosemite Street, Centennial
720-242-6854

There's nothing fancy about Chocklo, a fast-casual joint in the southern suburbs, but that's exactly the point. Chef/owner Afred Rojas has compiled an edible encyclopedia of street food from Latin America, going from Mexico to Argentina, with stops in Peru, Colombia, Cuba and Venezuela along the way. Sample empanadas from two countries, dig into hefty tortas, Cuban sandwiches or an Argentinian choripan (a grilled sausage sub), or go nuts with a nachos-style plate of salchipapas — a mound of fries loaded with cheese, guacamole, salsas and hot dog slices. You won't have to face off with an expert mixologist or share an overwrought small plate with your ten closest friends here; expect only big, flavorful portions without the typical sticker shock. chocklo.com
click to enlarge This photo isn't distorted; the pizzas at Famous Original J's don't always come out perfectly round. - MARK ANTONATION
This photo isn't distorted; the pizzas at Famous Original J's don't always come out perfectly round.
Mark Antonation

Famous Original J's Pizza

715 East 26th Avenue
720-420-9102

Five Points is one of Denver's best neighborhoods for scouting out something uncommon, whether great soul food or Caribbean cuisine. There's nothing too unusual about pizza, but the setup at Famous Original J's definitely connects modern Denver to Welton Street's past. The pizzeria is nothing more than a walk-up window serving New York-style slices and whole pies, as well as thick-crust, rectangular "grandma" pizza. Joshua Pollack, the founder of Rosenberg's Deli next door, took over the space after it had been vacant for years. The previous tenant was Zona's Tamales, which served tamales and pig ear sandwiches from the corner eatery for more than forty years before shutting down in 2010. Pollack continues the street-food tradition, but if you're looking to take a load off, you can grab a seat on one of the picnic benches on a patio shared with the 715 Club; a floppy slice of pizza and a cold beer make for a cheap night out in Five Points. famousoriginaljs.com
click to enlarge Ginginbunbun's choripan with chimichurri and pico de gallo. - MARK ANTONATION
Ginginbunbun's choripan with chimichurri and pico de gallo.
Mark Antonation

Ginginbunbun Sammies on the Go

4004 West 38th Avenue
720-502-5025

Benjamin Runde, Melanie Hardin and Stephanie Caldwell opened their tiny sandwich shop in March next door to a Buddy Boy dispensary, making a kind of one-two punch of pot and craveable snacks. The goofy name is based on nicknames Runde and his girlfriend used for each other, and while it may be nonsensical, the sandwiches are definitely serious. There are a couple of stools inside, but Gingingbunbun is mostly a takeout operation, covering an international array of grilled street sandwiches, with stops in Mumbai, Argentina, Korea, Cuba and the Caribbean, plus regional American specialties — all under $9. Sides, salads and soups follow a similar globe-trotting theme. ginginbunbun.com
click to enlarge Improper City relies on some of Denver's best food trucks to serve hungry guests. - MARK ANTONATION
Improper City relies on some of Denver's best food trucks to serve hungry guests.
Mark Antonation

Improper City

3201 Walnut Street
970-528-0672
How can a gathering place with no kitchen or food of its own serve some of the best inexpensive grub in town? In the case of Improper City, which has an impressive bar serving beer, wine, cocktails and espresso drinks inside, the solution is an expansive food-truck patio just outside. There you'll find barbecue with an international flair from Gypsy Q, Puerto Rican eats from Areyto, South American fare from La Rola Urban Colombian, and even an occasional Sunday brunch from the Basted Egg. Those are just a few of the mobile kitchens that roll through Improper City, so there will almost always be something new and fun to choose from. impropercity.com
click to enlarge Koshari is Egypt's national dish — and you can now find it at Koshari Time on Havana Street. - MAUREEN WITTEN
Koshari is Egypt's national dish — and you can now find it at Koshari Time on Havana Street.
Maureen Witten

Koshari Time

1155 South Havana Street, Aurora
720-787-4160
Denver’s only Egyptian eatery opened its doors in February. Koshari (pronounced “CUSH-er-y”) is the national dish of Egypt and the star of the brief menu. It's comfort food made with lentils, macaroni noodles, chickpeas and white rice; at Koshari Time, a few spaghetti strands are intertwined in the mix as well. On top of the mountain of carb-heavy goods rests a ladle of garlicky tomato sauce (your choice of spicy or mild) and a tangle of curly fried onions. Order yours plain (and vegan-friendly) or with halal chicken or ground beef. Even if tickets to Cairo are not in your foreseeable future, sampling koshari in Aurora is the next best thing. facebook.com/Koshari-Time
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation