Best of Denver

The Ten Best Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches in Denver

Taste of Philly's classic cheesesteak.
Taste of Philly's classic cheesesteak. Ken Holloway

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click to enlarge Masterpiece Deli's take on a cheesesteak uses brisket instead of rib-eye steak. - KEN HOLLOWAY
Masterpiece Deli's take on a cheesesteak uses brisket instead of rib-eye steak.
Ken Holloway
Masterpiece Delicatessen
1575 Central Street

Great chefs are innovators, and chef/restaurateur Justin Brunson has reinterpreted the cheesesteak sandwich with a braised-beef sandwich at Masterpiece Deli. The sandwich begins with beef brisket, cooked low and slow for twelve hours. The meat is then sliced thin and deftly combined with funky Taleggio cheese fondue, deeply caramelized onions, dressed arugula and a red-wine gastrique (for a hint of tangy and sweet). It's built on a toasted baguette with a crispy crust and great chew (from the Grateful Bread Company). Chef de cuisine Marc Levine says the sandwich is special because of great ingredients, great techniques and, most important, “attention to detail.” He adds that “it’s easy to make things look good on paper, but if you don’t actually serve a fantastic dish, then you’re going to disappoint your patrons.”

click to enlarge Pat's Philly Steak and Subs. - KEN HOLLOWAY
Pat's Philly Steak and Subs.
Ken Holloway
Pat’s Philly Steaks and Subs
7419 East Iliff Avenue

Pat's founder Patrick Neely has Philadephia roots, and his sandwiches live up to the small chain's much-deserved reputation. Even starting with great rib-eye and other fresh ingredients, the right technique is critical for a true Philly cheesesteak, so Neely trains his cooks to be “sandwich artists.” The signatures are lots of gooey cheese, a hot and steamy roll with just the right chew, and properly seasoned steak, onions, mushrooms and peppers. East Coast-style sweet peppers are also a classic touch not often found out west. Neely has been making Philly cheesesteaks since he was thirteen, and although he never dreamed he’d end up making a career out of it, we're glad he did. Pat’s still throws down great sandwiches at its original location (opened in 1998), but  look for more to pop up in the near future.

click to enlarge Steuben's dials in the best of regional American foods. - KEN HOLLOWAY
Steuben's dials in the best of regional American foods.
Ken Holloway
Steuben’s Arvada
7355 Ralston Road, Arvada

With tons of great cooking talent and years of experience turning out regional American specialties, Steuben's doesn't disappoint with its fantastic Philly cheesesteak. The three main ingredients are rib-eye steak, Amoroso’s rolls and a cheesy béchamel. If it's possible to incorporate the best of all three traditional cheeses  —  American, provolone, Whiz — with one delicious recipe, Steuben’s may have figured it out, with a rich and tangy sauce that makes the sandwich cheesy with every bite. You can order it with straight-up steak and cheese or loaded with your favorite veggies — onions, mushrooms, peppers and more. Every cheesesteak is served with a side of crunchy, spicy giardiniera for those who like their sandwich with a kick. A steamy hot and chewy contrasted with  crunchy, sour pickle makes each bite better than the last. This one pairs well with Steuben’s Gold Line beer (an English-style pale ale).

click to enlarge The real deal at Taste of Philly. - KEN HOLLOWAY
The real deal at Taste of Philly.
Ken Holloway
Taste of Philly
1116 Broadway

With sixteen locations along the Front Range, Taste of Philly is Colorado’s largest Philly cheesesteak business (and one of the oldest, going back to 1993). Each location is independently owned and operated, but they all build sandwiches on tried-and-true Amoroso’s bread. According to the manager at the Broadway outpost, Hanson Burkitt, Taste of Philly was the first company in Colorado to bring in bread from the famous Philadelphia bakery. Rather than ordering the rolls pre-sliced, the cooks at Taste of Philly slice each roll by hand, creating a pocket (rather than slicing through the ends). This technique helps keep the generous portions of meat from sliding out the far end of the roll while you're eating. And generous is an understatement. “We’d rather give you too much meat and have you leave happy than not enough meat and have you leave unhappy,” Burkitt says. Even the smaller eight-inch option comes stuffed to the gunwales. Hot off the griddle and rich with the smell of sizzled steak, onions, mushrooms and peppers, this cheesesteak rocks. For the more adventurous, the menu offers a large variety of configurations that come with pepperoni, green chiles, bacon and more.

click to enlarge West End Tap House takes liberties with the original cheesesteak — with excellent results. - KEN HOLLOWAY
West End Tap House takes liberties with the original cheesesteak — with excellent results.
Ken Holloway
West End Tap House
3945 Tennyson Street

Berkeley watering hole West End Tap House sports an enticing array of pub favorites and daily specials. Thanks to executive chef Gary Johnson, the menu includes a Philly cheesesteak sandwich with a Colorado theme. The star of this Philly is wagyu beef from 7X Ranch, which maintains a herd in the Colorado high country. The beef is first roasted rare and then sliced to order, simmered in jus and finished on the griddle along with green chiles, red peppers, pepper Jack cheese and fried onions. This pile of love is then stuffed into a toasted hoagie roll; all put together, the bright chiles, savory peppers, crunchy onions and toasty roll make the sandwich unique. It’s got a great heft, and it pairs well with the variety of cold beers on tap.

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Ken Holloway discovered his passion for food writing in 2010 when he began touring the country for restaurants showcased on the top food television shows. His travels have taken him to all 50 states and more than 300 eateries. He is an avid home cook who enjoys reading and collecting cookbooks and is a hopeful cookbook author working on a compendium of the best American comfort food recipes.