I consider myself a tuna melt connoisseur. I blame my mother; she makes the best around: open-face on an English muffin, topped with cheddar, broiled. Most restaurants’ versions are grilled, doused in butter, and overly cheesy, so I’m always pleasantly surprised when I find one that measures up. This is how I ended up inside Gallop Café, a cozy Highland spot on the corner of Zuni Street and 32nd Avenue.

Gallop’s tuna melt arrived grilled, but not bathed in butter—and with a surprise: A pile of crispy, jalapeño-cured bacon that turned out to be the ideal accompaniment to creamy tuna and gooey cheese.

The kitchen’s ingenuity encouraged me to branch out. I visited again (and again) and tried lunchtime fare such as the Café Cubano with apple-and-herb-cured pork and the cafe’s version of the bahn mi (a Vietnamese pork sandwich). The flavors—imagine a bowl of pho, minus the noodles, and plus the bread—were lively and balanced. All of the sandwiches come with pasta salad, potato salad, or coleslaw and are sharable, which offsets the $10 price tag.

Dinner—served Thursday through Saturday—is equally satisfying. The mac and cheese arrives piled high with rigatoni and hunks of sausage, all slathered in cheddar, Jack, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, then topped with dollops of creamy chevrè and caramelized shallots. Healthier options include salads like the Moroccan chicken, a curried mix of dried figs, dried apricots, and golden raisins offset by crunchy almonds and fresh grapes. The bonus is the smoky saffron aïoli for dipping the accompanying pita points. Still, I always seem to return to that heavenly tuna melt. 2401 W. 32nd Avenue, 303-455-5650, gallopcafe.com