Delis are the ideal spot for a quick lunch: An efficient crew assembles sandwiches, salads and sides for those who have only a few minutes to grab a meal, wrapping everything in butcher paper or plastic and handing over a portable package. But while Denver delis are usually quick, they're rarely good; the town has a particular shortage of great Jewish delis. A few specialty-delis rise above the rest, though, and these are the ones worth visiting not just when you need your food pronto, but when you have an entire afternoon to kill.
Here, in no particular order, are the city's five best non-Jewish delis.
Karl's Deli, 6878 South Yosemite Street, Centennial Head cheese, beef tongue and pate are proudly presented alongside an excellent Reuben at Karl's Deli, a decades-old German deli in the Tech Center that I review this week. Karl's also offers daily specials, including a pork-and-kraut-laden sausage plate and Hungarian goulash. A small patio outside channels a Bavarian biergarten, where you can drink Paulaner (free refills on Fridays and Saturdays) at picnic tables. Tuck into a homemade streudel for dessert or pick up imported candies and cookies in the small market in the back. Carbone's Italian Sausage Deli, 1221 West 38th Avenue A stalwart of an era when north Denver was an Italian stronghold, Carbone's looks like it's never been updated: grubby shelves are lined with imported pastas, and faded photos and posters cover every square inch of the walls. But forty years after Nick Lonardo took over this tiny sliver of a shop, lines continue to form and people wait patiently for one of the few employees to look up from behind the meat case and take another order. There are just a handful of heroes offered here, including a couple variations of an Italian and the best meatball sub in town. And you'll have to take your lunch to go: Carbone's has no tables. Masterpiece Delicatessen, 1575 Central Street The take-out sandwich gets sexy at Masterpiece Delicatessen, where Justin Brunson and his crew stretch the definition of an East Coast-style deli and turn out creations like braised beef brisket draped with melted tallegio and caramelized oven, roast beef with piquillo peppers and horseradish, and white truffle egg salad. We like spending lazy weekends morning on the patio, which has a stunning view of the downtown skyline, channeling our inner East Coast while eating a Taylor pork roll breakfast sandwich. Spinelli's Market, 4621 East 23rd Avenue Shimmy to the back of Spinelli's Market, and you'll find a deli that's undoubtedly packed with Park Hill neighbors. Organized chaos rules the day, as patrons jostle each other for a chance to order. It's worth the fight, though: Spinelli's makes good, old-fashioned sandwiches from a well-loved board of Italian staples like meatball and mortadella, rosemary ham, turkey cranberry gouda, and pastrami on rye. Head to the check-out counters to pay and try to grab one of the market's few tables up front; otherwise, you'll have to take lunch to go.
Scrawled across a chalkboard that spans the width of this three-table space are the dozens of sandwiches assembled in the kitchen at Dish. Turkey, avocado and cranberry come together in the Gobbler the Piglet pits ham against Emmental cheese; and vegetarian options like the Tuscan -- white bean spread, avocado, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and gruyere on ciabatta -- are delicious even if you're a carnivore. The soups and the prepared foods -- rotated daily and displayed in a case next to the cash register -- are also worth your attention, especially if you don't have time to wait in the inevitably long lunchtime line.
Have other favorites? Spill them in the comments section below.
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