Fall weather has us craving a sandwich with some real meat to it — something as beefed up and filling as a French dip. Tradition says this tasty sandwich consists of a crusty French roll, thin shavings of rare beef and a cup of meat drippings, or jus, to go with it. Some accepted variations include horseradish, melted white cheese or even grilled onions. The French dip is a hearty order, for sure, and one that when done right can satisfy on all fronts (except the vegetable front, maybe). Here are ten Denver restaurants that make a classic French dip right, or have come up with their own versions so tasty that you'll forgive any unconventional additions.
1644 Platte Street
Though chef/co-owner Steven Redzikowski's fast-casual Highland eatery is known for its rotisserie chicken, the wagyu French dip has a special place in our hearts, and on our 2018 Best of Denver list. This lovely sandwich carefully marries thinly sliced, tender wagyu beef from Colorado's 7X Ranch with tangy mustard and horseradish aioli, mild and melty Gruyère cheese, spicy arugula and a rich jus to tie it all together. Get this dish for lunch or dinner and consider upgrading your meal to include the daily house salad, a seasonal mélange of fresh greens and vegetables that helps offset the richness of the dip.
The Corner Office Restaurant
1401 Curtis Street
The Corner Office was one of the hippest bars in town when it opened eleven years ago, and has maintained its cool, retro vibe over the years. A new menu that launched just a few weeks ago captures more of that mid-century spirit, including one tasty French dip made the way the French dip was originally invented (in California, not France, surprisingly). We're talking a pliable roll soft enough to easily bite into while firm enough to soak up the luscious beef jus — a salty, savory broth that's more than an afterthought — without falling apart. For the beef, the kitchen uses the same prime rib that it sells as a steak, slicing it to order for each French dip. Each order comes with creamy horseradish and tomato soup, fries or slaw. Just make sure to ask for an extra napkin before you dive in.
Del Fresco's Grille
100 Saint Paul Street
If you can, grab one of the outdoor tables on the rooftop patio of this Cherry Creek temple of beef for a lovely view and dose of fresh air while you nosh on the delectable French dip. The sandwich starts with a fresh, crusty French roll that gets laden with rare, hand-shaved prime steak. It's big enough to share and comes with a side of creamy horseradish to give the mild meat a bite, and a coffee cup filled with a dipping broth so rich, you just might want to drink it straight. Pair the dish with hand-cut Parmesan fries, sweet-potato fries or a fresh green salad. For something lighter, skip the bread and order the beef with a lettuce wrap instead; it might not be traditional, but it's still a good way to indulge in that succulent beef.
303 Josephine Street
Hillstone isn't unique to Cherry Creek, but the company is adept at building comfortable and welcoming restaurants across the country. And as at every other Hillstone, you'll find the Famous French Dip, which is actually the name of the sandwich as well as its status. The dip proves simple, just thin-sliced prime rib piled onto a housemade French roll and served with a bowl of velvety jus. That's it, but one bite and you'll understand why this dish has such a following from coast to coast.
Guard and Grace
1801 California Street
Since opening in 2014, Troy Guard's downtown steakhouse has made one of the best French dips in the city, and it still does. The venue's own steak seasoning adds flavor to thinly shaved piles of low-and-slow-cooked prime rib on a hearty hoagie that's griddled in butter and slathered with a fresh thyme-garlic aioli. "We wanted to keep it minimal and showcase the highest-quality ingredients," says Guard. Dip the creation into the scrumptious drippings (made from steak trimmings) or slather it with creamy horseradish sauce. Either way, it's this steakhouse's staple lunchtime sandwich.
The Pig & the Sprout
1900 Chestnut Place
When you take a classic sandwich like the French dip and give it a Colorado twist, you get the Pig & the Sprout's decidedly American interpretation. Filled with house-smoked beef brisket, sautéed shiitake and crimini mushrooms, minced horseradish, a rich cheese fondue and caramelized onions, it's a mess of tasty ingredients that somehow play nice together. All that gets stuffed into a hearty roll that soon, says owner Andy Ganick, will be made in-house, just like the restaurant's other breads. The dish comes with an umami-rich broth akin to dashi, made by chef Travis Phillips. It's good enough to sip on its own, and makes a great sauce for the crusty fries, too. Even though the brisket dip might not keep to the traditional recipe, these alterations make it a crave-worthy version.
1808 Blake Street
Denver never knew it needed a place dedicated solely to the wonderful dip sandwich until chef Sheamus Feeley unveiled Pony Up downtown. The late-night, laid-back eatery specializes in an array of dips to go with bar manager Suzanne Navarro's equally tasty cocktails. If you want traditional, go with the Alameda Street Classic, made with shaved beef, rosemary, mayonnaise and a lovely jus to soak it in. For guests looking for something a little different, the Frenchie carries layers of thin roast beef, Gruyère, thyme, crispy onions, and for the sauce, a version of French onion soup. Vegetarians can even get in on the magic with the Smoked Mushroom, which swaps in superbly smoky portobello, along with Swiss cheese and an oh-so-velvety porcini broth. Eat these dips in the hip, relaxing bar every day from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
650 Sherman Street
A true French dip is simple and unadorned, and that's exactly the way Racines chef Thomas Wright makes this staple. The soft, buttery Aspen Baking Company roll is gently toasted on the inside before being filled with tender curls of roast beef. A bowl of comforting jus comes on the side, and that's all there is to it. You won't need anything else, but an order comes with a crunchy pickle and your choice of fries, coleslaw or fruit, none of which will distract from the simple perfection of the sandwich. Get if for lunch or dinner and dine inside or out, because, like the dip, the restaurant proves classic and easy-going in the most refined way.
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Ruth's Butchery at Denver Milk Market
1800 Wazee Street
If you're downtown and hungry for roast beef, wander toward the Milk Market in the newly launched Dairy Block development. Among a conglomeration of fifteen tempting food counters all put together by chef/restaurateur Frank Bonanno, you'll find Ruth's Butchery. Pass over the burgers (though they're worth trying, too) and go for the hefty, two-handed French dip, a sandwich laden with herb-roasted beef piled on a toasted, mayonnaise-smeared baguette. Smear your dip with some horseradish and make sure to plunk it in the beefy broth at least once, using a fork if needed. At $20 a pop, it's one of the more expensive versions around, but it's so big you can easily split it with a friend with whom you don't mind getting a little messy.
445 South Teller Street, Lakewood
Lakewood is where you'll find a seriously good French dip, a sandwich Tstreet takes so seriously that the restaurant brings in famed Amoroso rolls from Philadelphia. On top of those soft and crusty rolls comes a pile of shaved-to-order prime rib, served pink and cool, just as it should be. Add a dollop of creamy onion horseradish directly to your sandwich for a little kick, or swirl it into the jus as if it were a bowl of wasabi and soy sauce. Dubbed the Prime Dip, this construction comes with giant housemade, ranch-laced potato chips, apple-chipotle slaw, fries or a very lemony Parmesan kale salad.