The sandwich is without question humankind's crowning culinary creation. Self-contained for easy eating no matter the situation, built on bread, the cornerstone of civilization, and available in a mind-boggling variety of configurations for every taste, the sandwich is so all-encompassing that it can't even be defined by one name. Call them hoagies, grinders, subs or po'boys, or hop to another locale for tortas or banh mi — the sandwich has the ability to transcend cultural differences. Here's our list of the twelve best sandwiches shops in Denver, in alphabetical order.
1644 Platte Street
Culinary all-stars Steven Redzikowski and Bryan Dayton opened this Platte Street joint in January 2016, and fans of the duo's highly acclaimed full-service ventures (Oak at Fourteenth and Acorn) will recognize elements that run like swoon-worthy motifs across their menus. That means the meatballs we know and love, this time snuggled on ciabatta in the best meatball sandwich you'll ever eat, but it also means a porchetta-and-kimchi sandwich and other stacks built from rotisserie meats. This isn't a poor man's Acorn; it's exquisite (fan)fare for the common man, dished up in a fun, mod fast-casual space where sandwiches are treated with the same respect as plated entrees.
City & Country Deli & Sausage Co.
2393 South Downing Street
Owners Coy and Rachael Webb opened City & Country just two doors down from their popular barbecue joint, Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Cue, in summer 2016. The shop is small and dominated by a deli case stocked with the likes of elk bologna, pastrami, corned beef, slow-roasted eye of round, bacon, molasses ham, pecan-smoked andouille and other fresh sausages — all made in-house. If you're craving an old-school deli sandwich, there's a roster of sandwiches stuffed with pastrami, corned beef, roast turkey or egg salad, each given a working-class name like the Store Clerk, the Plow Hand and the Barnyard Brawl.
Curtis Park Delicatessen
2532 Champa Street
Classic deli sandwiches are the selling point of Curtis Park Deli, but somehow they up the game with the freshest ingredients and loving touches like housemade aiolis and the best cheeses. Vegetarians flock here, too, for meatless masterpieces that satisfy sandwich cravings. Lunches are always busy and sandwiches often sell out, so it's good news that the deli is soon opening a second location on East Sixth Avenue.
5307 Leetsdale Drive
At Las Tortas, the only thing louder than the thumping of the music is the sizzling from the griddle, so you'll need to lean closer to the person across the table and shout just to be heard. But once your sandwiches come, there's no time for talking, much less shouting, because food this good — and this messy — demands to be eaten quickly. Put down your suiza (chicken, ham and cheese) or norteña (steak, Milanesa, cheese) and you risk losing all the other toppings — refried beans, mayonnaise, onions, tomatoes, avocado and chipotle sauce — pressed between the bread. Don't miss the tortas ahogadas, a Guadalajaran specialty with griddle-crisped chunks of carnitas spilling out of baguette-like bolillos. Soften the crust with a smother of spicy, vinegary tomato sauce, and you'll wonder why you ever ate turkey with avocado.
Il Porcellino Salumi
4334 West 41st Avenue
Denver's first full-service salumeria, with everything from pâté to pig-stamped chocolates made in-house, opened in Berkeley in 2016 with a deli case full of pork products and plenty of slow-agers curing in the back. But before you load up with salami, coppa, chorizo, country ham and other expertly made meats to go, hang out for a while with a sandwich so good you may never want to leave. There are several to choose from, and they're all stuffed with Il Porcellino's housemade meats. Perhaps the best is called simply the Bacon, with layers of thin-sliced bacon (cooked soft, not crunchy), tomato, apple butter and a heady fondue made from Italian cacio pecora cheese, all swaddled between slices of jalapeño-cheddar bread. For a more traditional grinder, order the Hoggie, piled thick with coppa cotta, ham and Genoa salami cotta. Go ahead: You have our permission to pig out.
1575 Central Street
You can get a sandwich just about anywhere, but if you want to wrap your muzzle around a monument, then you need to go to the master of sandwich-making. And that's Masterpiece Deli, the spot that Justin Brunson opened ten years ago in Lower Highland, before this part of town was a hot restaurant neighborhood. The come-to-Jesus white-truffled egg salad is the best in the city, but you can say the same for the Italian and the roasted vegetable, the pastrami special and the braised beef brisket on a baguette. This shop sticks to a simple formula: Use the best ingredients you can get your hands on (Brunson's own bacon, for example) — and the result is inevitably a masterpiece.