I promised myself I'd eat just one, but one led to two and two led to three, and now I'm in a sausage stupor, thanks to Brad Arguello, the co-owner of Über Sausage, a weeny-size sausage parlor that opened two weeks ago at 2730 East Colfax Avenue in the former Pete's Ice Cream and Coffee location.
Arguello, along with business partners Henry Dematteis and Alex Gschwend, took over the quarters -- now bedecked with an open kitchen, weathered "lab" stools overlooking a burlap-laminated counter, tables overlaid with glass exposing chopped down tree wood below, upside-down whiskey barrels that double as lamp shades, a covered patio and bathrooms with grafittied chalkboards for walls -- in April, just a few months after the threesome had purchased a truck, from which they intended to join Denver's street food fleet.
"We wanted a brick-and-mortar to start with, and we looked at a couple of spaces, but the deals fell through," explains Arguello, "so earlier this year, we bought a Chrysler truck that we drove from Minnesota to Denver, but we never actually got it rolling, because soon after we bought it, we found this space and decided that it was the perfect building for a brick-and-mortar."
Ironically, the three sausage-slingers had looked at that very same building while they were scouting spaces -- but they passed on it the first time around, because, says Arguello, it wasn't near a college campus. "We wanted a gourmet sausage place, and initially we wanted it near drunk college kids, because drunk college kids like sausages, but the more we looked at this space, the more we realized what a great location this really was, and it's a huge plus that we're right across the street from East High School, have our own parking lot and are right in the thick of things on Colfax."
The idea for the restaurant, notes Arguello, started with a Swiss sausage, a popular European street food found in Austria and, obviously, Switzerland. And Arguello, who comes from a family of restaurateurs -- his father was the original owner of Mataam Fez, also on East Colfax -- always wanted to have his own joint. "The three of us -- me, Henry and Alex, whose dad was a chef -- all shared the same vision, so we sat down together and said, 'let's go for it, let's do this,'" says Arguello.
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His menu, which only hustles seven sausage sandwiches, the dogs of which are sourced from Continental Sausage and slapped on toasted French baguettes from City Bakery, includes, among others, a Swiss sausage made with free-range veal and pork topped with sprouts, raw onions, herbs and spices and zigzagged with spicy mustard; a Chicago-style bison hot dog stampeded with neon-green relish, hot sport peppers spurting juice, celery salt, yellow mustard and a dill pickle spear; and a spicy Southwestern buffalo bratwurst crowned with chokecherry chipotle sauce, red and green cabbage and crumbles of queso fresco. I sampled (ha!) all three, and they were all definitely worth a repeat pilgrimage. So, too, is the tart apple coleslaw glistening with apple cider vinegar, and the house-made potato chips, available plain or dusted with one of of seven different seasoned salts.
Despite the fact that the frankfurters come from Continental Sausage, which is where Biker Jim, Denver's high priest of wieners, gets his dogs, Arguello insists that what he and his buddies are doing at Über Sausage is different. "We're definitely not Biker Jim's, Steve's Snappin' Dogs or any other hot dog place," contends Arguello. "I love Biker Jim -- he's a cool, chill, badass dude that started the whole hot dog craze -- but his menu is broad, and we're a bit more focused, and we use a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables," he notes. There's no rattlesnake, wild boar or pheasant on the menu, either -- and no vegetarian dog. And unlike Biker Jim's freestanding restaurant, which has a full bar, Über Sausage, at least for the moment, is limited to pouring sodas, although Arguello says that he'll try to pursue a liquor license.
He also has aspirations to get his truck off the parking-lot pavement and onto the streets of Denver. "It's licensed and ready to go, and we're trying to get into Civic Center Eats, or the Pearl Street Farmers' Market," Arguello tells me. In the meantime, Über Sausage -- the restaurant -- is open for lunch and dinner until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more info, call 303-862-7894.