The Reuben sandwich is said to have been invented just over a hundred years ago, in either Omaha, Nebraska, or New York City (depending on whose story you believe). The hot sandwich is an imposing stack of corned beef (or, less frequently, pastrami), sauerkraut, Russian dressing, melted Swiss cheese and grilled rye bread. To be great, a Reuben must start with great ingredients and be well-composed, well-balanced in flavor and texture, and cooked expertly. Here in Denver, master sandwich crafters from all over the country — East Coast, West Coast, Midwest and even the heart of Texas — and from right here in Colorado are making exceptional Reubens in delis, sandwich shops, diners and taverns; some are pure classics, and others are inspired interpretations. Here are the ten best Reuben sandwiches in Denver.
The Bagel Deli & Restaurant
6439 East Hampden Avenue
When you order the classic Reuben at the Bagel Deli, the first thing you’re going to notice is how massive the sandwich is. The expression “piled high” falls short of the mark here; "the Mount Everest of Reubens" is more accurate. It takes two hands to pick up half the sandwich, and then you have to wonder if you can open your mouth far enough to take a good bite. This Reuben comes with potato salad, a dill pickle spear, Thousand Island dressing (instead of Russian), and roasted-beet horseradish sauce (which you can mix in with the dressing). The Bagel Deli is celebrating fifty years in business, and the family-owned and -operated deli has mastered the art of corned beef. The meat is hand-trimmed, succulent and moist (without being fatty), and the flavor is spot on. The richness of the beef is contrasted with a generous amount of sauerkraut, and complemented with melted Swiss cheese and griddled marble rye. You can also order it with half corned beef and half pastrami.
City & Country Deli & Sausage Co.
2393 South Downing Street
City & Country is located just two doors down from Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Que, and both are owned and operated by chef/pit master Coy Webb and his wife, Rachael. Webb brought his Texas influence to Denver with Roaming Buffalo, and then the couple followed with their city deli with a country feel. The deli's Reuben is dubbed the Assembly Worker and is made with slow-cooked and thick-cut corned beef. Along with that tender, pink beef, you'll find melted Havarti cheese and tangy housemade Thousand Island dressing. What makes this Reuben unique is smoked cabbage, which gives the sandwich a tantalizing smoky kick that revs up your tastebuds. The rustic sandwich is served on toasted marble rye and comes with delicious pickle chips — also made in-house.
1530 Blake Street
If you find yourself in LoDo, you’re not far from Reuben heaven. Freshcraft was born in 2009 when Lucas Forgy and his brothers Jason and Aaron got together to offer great beers and killer sandwiches with a twist. The Reuben appears on the menu as the B.A.R. 2.0 — which obviously stands for Bad Ass Reuben, right? As it turns out, the initials stand for Bacon Apple Reuben, which, though not as cool, certainly sounds more appealing. And quite frankly, the Bacon Apple Reuben is badass. The sandwich begins with house-braised corned beef, cut thick and stacked high. The beef is tender, juicy and warm with earthy spices. The flavors are further enhanced with Russian dressing and a Bavarian-style sauerkraut with caraway seeds. The Forgy brothers don't mess around when it comes to developing flavors; the house Russian dressing is enhanced with a sauté of caramelized onions and Granny Smith apples deglazed with white wine and folded into the base along with other spices. And let’s not forget the applewood-smoked bacon, the only way the recipe could be made any better. It’s all wrapped up in creamy melted Swiss cheese and grilled marble rye for a symphony of sweet, savory and tangy, creamy and crunchy. Like all good symphonies, it tantalizes and delights, builds to a crescendo, then finishes in a satisfying resolution. Pair with your favorite beer and enjoy with crunchy pickles (the Forgy mom’s secret family recipe).
Marion Street Tavern
1223 East 13th Avenue
“It’s not fine dining, but it’s great bar food,” is the motto at the Marion Street Tavern. If ever there was a sandwich that screams to be paired with a cold beer, you’re going to find it here. The Reuben begins with thick-cut corned beef that is lovingly braised low and slow, according to kitchen manager Tim Pelts. It’s cut thick enough for a chew while still remaining moist and tender. The richness of the corned beef is set off by the housemade Thousand Island dressing and gooey Swiss cheese. But the real kicker on this sandwich is a slaw that has been enhanced with sautéed apples and sweet onions, making for a well-balanced stack served hot on grilled marble rye.
1575 Central Street
Getting ready to celebrate ten years in business, Masterpiece Deli is the place to go for “fine dining between bread.” According to founder Justin Brunson (who knows a little about fine dining beyond the bread, too), there were always places around town where you could get a great sandwich, but there wasn’t a place where you could find many different great sandwiches under one roof — so he created Masterpiece Deli to be that place. The Reuben here is what you get when you combine the best ingredients, a great recipe, and masterful execution. The corned beef is sliced super-thin and nearly melts in your mouth. The rich flavor is juxtaposed with tangy sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. The whole thing is robed in Emmenthaler cheese and held together with perfectly grilled thick-cut rye from the Grateful Bread company. If a sandwich could be called a work of art, this is it. “Every sandwich on the menu is a 10,” Brunson claims. Based on the Reuben alone, we find it hard to disagree.
New York Deli News
7105 East Hampden Avenue
The hustle and bustle of this deli-cum-diner could be right at home in the Bronx, which is where the New York Deli News sources its corned beef and rye bread. Some foods that are made in New York just cannot be duplicated anywhere else, and the crew strives to present all its deli favorites classically done. The most popular way to order the Reuben here is half corned beef and half pastrami. But whether you go full corned beef or fifty-fifty, the sandwich is built with twice-baked rye bread, Russian dressing and piles of succulent meat topped with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese melted under a char-broiler. The entire mound is served open-faced, so you have the option to stack the two halves together or eat them separately (fork and knife required). If that's not enough, there's just enough room on the plate for a side of crunchy coleslaw and some silky sweet dressing.
Olive & Finch Eatery and Bakery
1552 East 17th Avenue, 303-832-8663
3390 East First Avenue, 303-955-0455
Olive & Finch chef/owner Mary Nguyen knows how to make people happy with sandwiches — the Reuben high among them. Mouth-watering pastrami is smoked in-house, hand trimmed and sliced thin; it's luscious and finishes with a peppery bite. Adding to the flavor festival is a bright and tangy sauerkraut, Russian dressing (a house recipe) and Swiss cheese. All of this is built on thick slices of rye bread baked by Olive & Finch and expertly grilled to a golden-brown crunch. Lunch is rounded out with potato chips and a pickle spear for a fantastic meal.
Salt & Grinder
3609 West 32nd Avenue
Located in Highlands Square, Salt & Grinder is owner Frank Bonanno’s take on a traditional New Jersey Italian deli. Bonanno is passionate about crafting great food, and this was clearly evident in the Reuben. General manager Jessica O’Brian explains that S & G's version of the sandwich is built as a triple-decker, with thin-sliced rye bread from the Grateful Bread Company. Both corned beef and pastrami are sliced to order and shaved fine. The rich and juicy meats are perfectly balanced by the tang of the sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. The Reuben is beautifully composed, deftly grilled and sided with a refreshing dill pickle spear and a choice of several side dishes. In a word, this Reuben is sublime; O’Brian says the secret ingredient is “good ol' classic East Coast deli love.”
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7355 Ralston Road, Arvada, 303-830-0096
523 East 17th Avenue, 303-830-1001
Mark Friday as Reuben day on your calendar, because that’s the only day you can wrap your hands around the sandwich at Steuben's. The star of this signature sandwich is the house-smoked pastrami, which lives up to the high standards that people have come to expect from Josh Wolkon's restaurants. On its way to becoming pastrami, the brisket is meticulously seasoned and then hickory-smoked low and slow for hours. The sandwich is built with a fifty-fifty blend of pastrami and corned beef, sliced thin and piled together, giving the sandwich a rich and smoky combination of flavors. Just as impressive is the housemade Russian dressing, which is luxuriously creamy and heady with hints of Dijon mustard and horseradish. The sandwich is rounded out with melted Swiss, marbled rye, and just enough sauerkraut to give the whole thing a little tang.
121 Adams Street
Opened in 1992 in Cherry Creek, Zaidy’s Deli is the creation of Gerard Rudofsky, who claims to have suffered a “midlife correction” back then. Now along with his son Jason Rudofsky and his loyal staff (like thirteen-year veteran server Adele Engels), the owner is delighting Cherry Creek food lovers with breakfast all day, nostalgia-inducing sandwiches, deli favorites and a pastry chef rocking out amazing desserts. You can order a classic Reuben with all corned beef here, but many people order it with half corned beef and half pastrami or turkey. This is the quintessential Jewish deli Reuben, loaded with a double helping of thinly sliced corned beef, straight-up sauerkraut, melted Swiss cheese and housemade Russian dressing, all lusciously ensconced in perfectly grilled Jewish rye bread. If you can’t get enough corned beef, the kitchen also cooks up Reuben omelets and corned beef hash with eggs. And for a truly daunting platter, Zaidy’s Deli (which translates to Grandfather’s Deli in Yiddish) builds a Reuben on twin latkes instead of bread.