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When he’s high (or, honestly, even when he’s sober), Kip Wilson loves nothing more than biting into a big, meaty sandwich. If he’s really got the munchies, he’ll eat the whole sub in one go, but he also likes to eat half for lunch and save the other half for later.
Wilson—who hosts the popular Stoned Appétit, a podcast featuring self-professed stoners interviewing guests about food, booze, weed, and more—has eaten his fair share of sandwiches from Denver restaurants and eateries, so we asked him to share a few of his favorites. For him, a great sandwich meets three main criteria: It’s affordable (relatively speaking), the bread is sturdy and has integrity, and it’s piled high with meat.
When it comes to ordering, he likes to first evaluate a restaurant’s Italian sandwich. Then, if he’s impressed, he may come back and order something else on the menu. “I’ve tried just about every damn Italian sandwich in the city,” says Wilson, 34, who started the podcast in 2018.
Wilson always orders sides with his sandwiches. His favorites? Spicy chips and Italian pasta salad. And to drink, Wilson tends to grab a soda or a Gatorade. “It’s not necessarily a beer dish,” he says. “And while I may drink a lot, there’s no reason to be cracking an IPA for the sake of it when you’re eating this heavy, bread sandwich.”
Looking for your next 4/20 snack (or, you know, just lunch)? Here are the best sandwiches in Denver, according to Wilson.
#1: The Lee
Where to get it: Open, 2706 Larimer St.
What’s on it: Sichuan braised beef, provolone, red wine sesame mayo, and white onion served atop a Marczyk baguette and paired with a Sichuan dipping broth with scallions and cilantro.
Why: “It doesn’t break the bank, they offer delivery, but the key is that the meat and bread are fantastic,” Wilson says. “You don’t even need that consomme; the sandwich itself stands on its own. When you add the dipping sauce, it just elevates it to an even higher level. It’s a perfect stoner snack. It’ll hold you over, but it’s not too terribly heavy. It’s not a two-meal sandwich—but only because you want to eat both halves then and there.”
#2: Fried Shrimp Po’Boy
Where to get it: Pirate Alley Po’Boys inside Stir Cooking School, 3215 Zuni St.
What’s on it: Fried shrimp, remoulade, lettuce, and pickled green tomatoes served with Cajun-spiced chickpeas.
Why: “They’re only open on Thursdays and Fridays and they just do takeout; you pick them up in the alley, so it’s almost like a speakeasy sandwich,” Wilson says. “It’s made with the perfect bread for a po’boy. It wraps perfectly around it. The fried shrimp is not too dredged, it’s not cornmeal-y. It’s that perfect batch right in the middle. It’s not over-filled, it’s not under-filled. This po’boy is the bee’s knees from the bread down to the filling.”
#3: Piada Torta
Where to get it: Brutø, located inside Free Market at Dairy Block, 1801 Blake St.
What’s on it: Cochinita pibil, xnipec, and salsa aguacate.
Why: “I can’t harp on how clever it was to use the piada bread,” Wilson says. “When I had that sandwich, it was stuffed all the way to the bottom and then cut in half. And it was re-vo-lu-tionary. This piada bread keeps everything held inside the vessel.”
#4: Italian Job
Where to get it: Gates Deli & Grog, 1875 S. Pearl St.
What’s on it: Pepperoni, genoa salami, ham, Italian prosciutto, shredded lettuce, Italian vinaigrette, tomatoes, sunflower seed basil pesto, and fresh mozzarella served on ciabatta.
Why: “The Italian sandwich has to be done properly for you to have a fighting chance in the sandwich industry,” Wilson says. “The reason I love this sandwich is they have a sunflower pesto that’s fantastic. It’s got fresh cheese, it’s piled high with meats, you get those premium, nice, cured salty meats. And then, heavens, that pesto. I dream about it, I’m not kidding.”
#5: Banh Mi
Where to get it: Vinh Xuong Bakery, 2370 W. Alameda Ave.
What’s on it: Choose between grilled pork, BBQ pork, spicy avocado, ham, meatball, roast chicken, tofu, or combination pork with various toppings.
Why: “It’s the best banh mi you can get in Denver,” Wilson says. “Not only do you get an unbelievably great bang for your buck (it’s less than $10), but they have great bread.”
#6: Thanksgiving Dip
Where to get it: Pony Up, 1808 Blake St.
What’s on it: Turkey sausage stuffing and cranberry mayo with a side of turkey gravy (only available during the Thanksgiving season).
Why: “Pony Up’s bread is possibly the best sandwich bread in Denver,” Wilson says. “They cook it properly, put a little butter on it so there’s a crunch on the outside but it’s so soft on the inside that it doesn’t cut the roof of your mouth—the purists out there who love some good sammies, they know what I’m talking about. This sandwich is just unreal. It’s nap-inducing. It’s the perfect get-me-to-the-couch-afterward sandwich.”
#7: Severino Grande or Roman Fiesta
Where to get it: Lou’s Italian Specialties, 3357 N. Downing St.
What’s on it: The Severino Grande has hot soppressata, Italian prosciutto, hot coppa, mortadella, provolone, lettuce, and giardiniera, while the Roman Fiesta features Genoa salami, pepperoni, ham, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, mixed greens, olive oil, and balsamic.
Why: “While these might be a higher price point out the door, these are definitely two-fers,” Wilson says. “You eat half when you can and then you eat the second half after you smoke, so it’s perfect. It covers your bases for munchies. It’s not cheap ($13–$15) and it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a big undertaking if you’re going to call that your lunch, but it’s delicious.”
#8: Corned Beef and Pastrami Combo
Where to get it: The Bagel Deli and Restaurant, 6439 E. Hampden Ave.
What’s on it: Hot corned beef, pastrami, and Swiss cheese (Wilson likes to doctor his up with a little yellow or brown mustard).
Why: “The meat is piled high and it’s like having two sandwiches—that’s what hits, but it’s also a nostalgic sandwich,” he says. “There’s a hustle and bustle there, and the customer service is second to none. You just get this corned beef piled high to your face. You have to lean over it to see your partner on the other side of the table. Everybody in this day and age is trying to make some upscale, fancy version of stuff—just church stuff up—but something like the corned beef and pastrami, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Don’t [insert expletive] with what works.”
#9: The Hoggie
Where to get it: Il Porcellino Salumi, 4324 W. 41st Ave.
What’s on it: Capicola, soppressata, Berkeley ham, aioli, pickled peppers, local greens, and red wine vinaigrette served on a ciabatta roll.
Why: “It’s just loaded to the gills with meat,” he says. “When you go into a place and see meat hanging everywhere, you know the sandwich is going to hit so hard. It’s just piled high with cured salty, artisanal meats. The meat is delicious. It’s a real solid location.”
#10: A Hot Dog
Where to get it: Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs, 3525 E. Colfax Ave.
What’s on it: Various toppings, depending on your order.
Why: “Because a hot dog is a sandwich,” says Wilson. “They have a wide variety of hot dogs, a cool patio and their hot dogs are like $5, so in the day and age of a $17 sandwich, why not go get a California dog for $5? Or just go get Steve’s chili con carne dog. There are so many options. There’s something about just going and eating a churched-up dog.”
Wilson’s Honorable Mentions:
- Tessa Delicatessen, 5724 E. Colfax Ave.
- Chicken Rebel, 3618 Tejon St.
- Grateful Gnome Sandwich Shoppe & Brewery, 4369 Stuart St.
- Hops & Pie, 3920 Tennyson St. (Wilson says: “I know it’s a pizza place, I know it’s a donut spot, but give their sandwiches a try. They have a different sandwich every week and they’re so creative.”)