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Fried chicken from the Coop Chicken & Beer. Photo by Stephanie Grado

The Denver Pop-Ups You Won’t Want To Miss

Unprecedented times call for savory comfort in the form of fried chicken, over-stuffed sandwiches, and Japanese fare.

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In response to coronavirus-related dining restrictions, many local culinary pros have debuted fresh concepts in recent months to bring in much-needed income and showcase their creative prowess. Here are some of the latest additions we are daydreaming about.

Fried Chicken

The Coop Chicken & Beer at Wynkoop Brewing Company

With myriad pandemic-born iterations available right now—from Noble Riot’s Noble Fry-It to Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery’s Hatched—fried chicken with homestyle sides tastes like the pivot fare of 2020. Wynkoop Brewing Company has even gotten into the fried bird game, opening a pop-up adjacent to its sprawling (temporarily closed) taproom in late July. There, you can order the likes of fried chicken with fresno chile-spiked honey butter; fried green tomatoes accompanied by Olathe sweet corn succotash; and a chicken burger topped with pimento cheese, the aforementioned fried green tomatoes, and candied River Bear American Meats bacon. Rotisserie chicken salads, tostadas, and pizzas are also on the menu; the brewery bought a 14-bird rotisserie for the Coop, according to Breckenridge-Wynkoop director of operations Amanda Young. The poultry-based offerings pair well with the brewery’s Mile High Pale Ale and Colorojo Imperial Red. Available for dine-in, pick-up, or delivery daily, 11 a.m.–8 p.m., 1634 18th St.

Tenders and waffle fries from the Saucy Chicken. Photo courtesy of the Saucy Chix

Saucy Chix at Morning Story

When the team behind Morning Story isn’t cooking green chile chicken hash and biscuits and gravy, they’re making fried chicken tenders. The breakfast and lunch spot launched the Saucy Chix in August, a ghost kitchen concept operating out of its Washington Virginia Vale and Arvada locations. There are a variety of sauces to choose from for dunking your meaty chicken breast tenders; we like the spicy Scorpion Ranch. Or, opt for one of the Mother Clucking sandwiches or Hippie Chix salads. It’s finger fare that’s sure to please every tender-lovin’ kiddo—and adult—in your household. Available for pick-up and delivery daily, 4–10 p.m., 560 S. Holly St. and 8025 Sheridan Blvd., Arvada

Lil Yellow Chick

Elise Wiggins, chef-owner of Cattivella in Central Park, will debut a new venture later this month: a poultry palace on wheels called Lil Yellow Chick. “With cold weather fast approaching and COVID impacting the dine-in scene, I’ve decided to pivot,” says Wiggins. “I am digging into my Southern roots and cooking up crispy buttermilk fried chicken and Louisiana Southern sides.” Lil Yellow Chick will be housed in a 1962 Shasta camper trailer, selling Nice (no heat) and Naughty (spicy or extra hot) varieties of fried bird with chicken liver mousse, buttery biscuits, Cajun beans and rice, deep-fried pies, and other Louisiana-style specialties. Starting in late September, Wiggins hopes to serve lunch and dinner daily in Central Park’s Eastbridge Town Center adjacent to Cattivella. And don’t worry, Wiggins’ Italian restaurant isn’t going anywhere. 10195 E. 29th Dr.

Sandwiches

Jabroni & Sons at Bar Dough 

Bar Dough is slinging stacked East Coast-style sandwiches and hoagies made with house-baked bread every Friday afternoon via its pop-up, Jabroni & Sons. Go for the Sanducci, a hefty beauty loaded with mortadella, gabagool, hot sopressata, sharp provolone, giardiniera, and garlic aïoli that is sure to ruin your allegiance to any other Italian sandwich. Other options include the near-perfect American Wit (shaved rib eye, fried onions, and American cheese) and the Gabanotz (crispy fried eggplant, parmesan, mozzarella, and house red sauce). Upgrade your lunch with a side order of crab chips, which are flash-fried potato chips sprinkled with crab boil seasoning. Available for pick-up Friday, 11 a.m.–2 p.m. (pre-order online), 2227 W. 32nd Ave. 

The Slugburger and hot chicken from Split Lip Chicken. Photo by Patricia Kaowthumrong

Split Lip Chicken at Ultreia 

Every Thursday, on Ultreia’s expanded Union Station patio, executive chef Adam Branz fries crunchy hot chicken that oozes with zesty, sweat-inducing flavor. But the object of our obsession is Branz’s Slugburger. It’s a regional specialty from northwest Mississippi that typically consists of a lard-fried patty made with ground beef, potato flakes, and flour; Branz’s riff on the recipe replaces the potato flakes with breadcrumbs and lard with canola oil, yielding an ultra-moist patty. The burger, which is enhanced with gooey cheddar and thinly sliced pickles, is also available with double patties. If you’re not in the mood for fried chicken and burgers, Ultreia hosts a Ribs & Rosé pop-up (olive oil-braised Moorish spiced ribs with Spanish rosé) every Friday (3–6 p.m.) and cooks breakfast paella (the Spanish classic jazzed up with bacon and eggs) during the Union Station Farmers Market every Saturday (10 a.m.). Split Lip Chicken: Available for dine-in or pick-up Thursday, 2–6 p.m., 1701 Wynkoop St.

The GFY at F. Uzzio Sangweech. Photo courtesy of Marco’s Coal-Fired

Uzzio Sangweech at Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza

Marco’s Coal-Fired chef-owner Mark Dym has married his love for sandwiches and storytelling to bring Denverites the Sangweech—an Italian sub invented by his fictional uncle Frank Antny Uzzionewitz, an Italian ex-hitman (read the full humorous story here). The lunchtime pop-up out of the LoDo pizzeria sports a menu of eight playfully named sandwiches featuring the inventive flavor combinations that Marco’s is known for. Order the GFY (Good For You), a masterpiece of rare roast beef, provolone, spicy horseradish aïoli, lettuce, tomato, and onion on a chewy baguette. Or try the Double Ugly, in which tender porchetta laced with bits of crispy pork skin, mozzarella, red onion, arugula, and lemon vinaigrette meet on fluffy ciabatta. We think Uncle Uzzionewitz would approve. Available for pick-up and delivery Monday–Friday, 11 a.m.–3 p.m., 2129 Larimer St.

Japanese Bites

Happy Go Lucky at Ace Eat Serve

Sassy Tuna bowl at Ace Eat Serve. Photo by Anna Regan

Your local options for sustainably sourced and caught fish are better than ever, thanks to the Uptown area’s Ace Eat Serve. Chef Thach Tran and his crew began serving nourishing poke bowls crowned with fresh fish and veggies during lunchtime this past spring. Now, their three signature bowls are on the regular Ace menu, and come with your choice of Scottish steelhead salmon, Hawaiian tuna, or avocado gussied up with vibrant toppings, from cilantro aïoli and mixed seaweed salad to roasted rice puffs and wasabi peas. (Also, don’t skip dessert: Pastry chef Nadine Donovan’s five spice-sugar bao donut holes with lime leaf anglaise are divine.) Starting on September 13, Tran will also offer his legendary peking duck feast for two nights every week—Thursday and Sunday nights. Call 303-800-7705 to reserve yours in advance. Happy Go Lucky poke bowls are available for dine-in or pick-up daily, in addition to the regular menu, 3–10 p.m., 501 E. 17th Ave.

Kitsune Denver

Kitsune bento boxes. Photo courtesy of Samuel Soell/Kitsune Denver

Chefs Marcus Eng and Samuel Soell’s Kitsune Denver isn’t technically a pop-up, as its been established inside the kitchen at American Bonded for months now, but we couldn’t resist celebrating the latest additions to the duo’s ekiben-style menu, based on the train station boxed meals you can find in Japan. In Denver, that means seasonally inspired bento box lunches filled with combinations such as chicken karaage with pickles and Alabama-style white sauce or heirloom cherry tomato curry with summer squash and shiitakes. “We aim to create something decidedly Japanese, but with American and Coloradan terroir,” says Eng. “We get really bored of cooking the same things over and over again, so we’re always trying to push the envelope when it comes to our featured ingredients.” In the coming weeks and months, look for dishes starring geoduck, abalone, duck, and venison.

Eng and Soell also recently launched a menu of Pan-Asian bites called Kaiju By Kitsune, which is available for on-site dining (and takeout, by request only). The concept revolves around snacks that complement the bar’s libations: grass-fed ribeye bulgogi sliders; tempura made with produce from the Union Station Farmers Market; and Xinjiang (an earthy Chinese spice blend) lamb skewers, which allow the duo to showcase dishes that don’t fit the bento box format.

Kitsune Denver bento boxes are available daily for delivery or pick-up, 12–9 p.m.; the Kaiju By Kitsune menu is available daily at American Bonded, 4–9 p.m., 2706 Larimer St.

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