Best of Denver

The Twelve Best Sandwich Shops in Denver

Olive & Finch is one of Denver's top sandwich destinations.
Olive & Finch is one of Denver's top sandwich destinations. Danielle Lirette

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click to enlarge The Cashman at Olive & Finch comes with roast beef, brie, horseradish aioli, roasted bell peppers and caramelized onions. - MARK ANTONATION
The Cashman at Olive & Finch comes with roast beef, brie, horseradish aioli, roasted bell peppers and caramelized onions.
Mark Antonation
Olive & Finch
1552 East 17th Avenue, 303-832-8663
3390 East First Avenue, 303-955-0455

Olive & Finch is so much more than a sandwich shop, but chef/owner Mary Nguyen builds such amazing meat-and-bread constructions that most sandwich-only spots pale in comparison. Many of the choices are named after Nguyen's friends and family, so choose from the Luca, an Italian stack; the Bennett, a veggie mix with sweet basil pesto; or the Cashman, which combines roast beef and caramelized onion with Brie and horseradish aioli. Our favorite is the Greggers, a messy pile of beef tongue cooked for six hours and then topped with garlic, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers and tarragon aioli. In a stroke of pure sandwich genius, Nguyen puts many of the sauces on top of the meats and veggies instead of underneath, so the bread doesn't get soggy and the flavors come to the forefront. Get to know these creations on a first-name basis.

Rosenberg's Bagels & Deli
725 East 26th Avenue, 720-440-9880
2501 Dallas Street, Aurora, 303-955-0466

When Joshua Pollack moved to Colorado from the East Coast, he lamented the lack of good bagels. Years later, after a short-lived career in the mortgage business and other entrepreneurial ventures, he decided to change that, and opened Rosenberg’s. Pollack is so obsessed with correct bagel-making technique that he reconfigures his water, adjusting the mineral content so that it more closely mimics New York City tap. And the rest of the bagel-making process at Rosenberg’s, from proofing to boiling to baking, is just as exacting. Load those bagels with housemade lox and gravlax — or house-cured pastrami, which Pollack rolled out when the Five Points location reopened after a fire. A word of warning: Prepare for a line, whether you're patronizing that original restaurant or the new outlet in Stanley Marketplace.

click to enlarge Salt & Grinder's roast beef sandwich is a rare beast. - MARK ANTONATION
Salt & Grinder's roast beef sandwich is a rare beast.
Mark Antonation
Salt & Grinder
3609 West 32nd Avenue
303-945-4200

Restaurateur Frank Bonanno has built his reputation on singular dishes — like the lobster macaroni and cheese at his flagship eatery, Mizuna — and fine-dining experiences that strike a balance of fun and elegance. But beneath the chef's coat beats the heart of a New Jersey kid raised on Taylor pork roll and meatball subs. So it's not surprising that when he decided to open his own sandwich shop, Bonanno hit the mark with East Coast classics piled high onto soft rolls. Housemade sausage and rare-cooked roast beef highlight a menu that also features pitch-perfect egg salad, Luca marinara and fresh burrata. While many of the ingredients aren't fancy — grinders are adorned with thin tomato slices and iceberg lettuce — the combination of simplicity and a few key bursts of flavor and originality makes each sandwich an exercise in nostalgia and comfort.

Snarf's sandwich shops are always fun and colorful. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
Snarf's sandwich shops are always fun and colorful.
Danielle Lirette
Snarf's Sandwiches
Multiple Locations

Snarf's Sub Shop, the beloved sandwich spot with a hippie vibe, got its start when Jim Seidel opened his first sub shack in Boulder in 1996. Then, as now, Snarf's knew to do a few things really right: It has a good filling-to-bread ratio, uses high-quality meats and vegetables, and relies on a broiler to give the outside of each sandwich an excellent, toasty crunch. But what really sets Snarf's apart is its housemade giardiniera, a spicy mix of marinated carrots, celery and peppers that can — and should — be added to anything you order. The Colorado-based chain has since crossed state lines, with locations in Chicago and St. Louis, but whether in a shack or a sexy condo complex, Snarf's makes a solid sub.

Sub-Culture
1300 Pennsylvania Street
303-420-3232

The sandwiches at Sub-Culture bring in a lot of pick-up business on their own merit: Everyone knows that when it comes to sandwiches, it's the little things that count, and this shop nails them. The bread is the perfect blend of chewy and crusty; the ingredients are fresh, high-quality and plentiful, with plenty of vegetarian options available. However, it's also an excellent place to sit and pass some time if you're so inclined. There's a patio with a perfect view of the intersection of 13th Avenue and Pennsylvania Street (great for summertime people-watching), and sports fans who don't want to deal with brosephian machismo, terrible food and light beer will enjoy Sub-Culture's indoors with its big television and punk-rock-meets-indie-cinema aesthetic. There are scores of sandwich combos — both hot and cold — to choose from, but you can't go wrong with a hefty meatball sub.

click to enlarge The combo bánh mì at Vinh Xuong Bakery. - LINNEA COVINGTON
The combo bánh mì at Vinh Xuong Bakery.
Linnea Covington
Vinh Xuong Bakery
2370 West Alameda Avenue, 303-922-0999
3501 Wazee Street (inside Zeppelin Station)

If there's one secret to understanding Denver dining, it's that the best food is often hiding out in a nondescript strip mall. Vinh Xuong Bakery II is tucked into one such mall, and the bright and airy coffee shop not only makes some of the best sandwiches around, but it's kind on the wallet, too. At lunch you can grab a grilled pork banh mi on a flaky hunk of French bread, pair it with a Vietnamese iced coffee and a mildly sweet and chewy sesame ball, and come away with change from a ten-dollar bill — even after tipping. From the baguettes to the cured and pressed deli meats, everything is made in-house, so this steal of a meal is consistently good on every single visit. And Vinh Xuong just opened a second sandwich counter at the shiny, new Zeppelin Station, bringing banh mi to a whole new audience.
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