A good Philly cheesesteak—that iconic pairing of grilled meat, melted cheese, and a squishy bun—will bring some diners to their knees. Let that be a warning to those approaching Denver Ted’s, a tiny cheese- steak shop in Capitol Hill. Before cracking the door, you’ll pick up the tantalizing scent of beef on a hot griddle—and inside a simple menu board lists nine riffs on the holy trinity.

Order a regular and watch as the line cook slaps 10 ounces of USDA Choice Grade A sirloin on the piping-hot, oiled grill. A spatula in each hand, he repeatedly scrambles, chops, and flips the paper-thin slices of beef until they’re deemed sandwich-ready. The basic cheesesteak blends steak with sweated onions and melted white American cheese, but, for die-hards, Cheez Whiz—for that authentic Philly flavor—is always on hand.

To owner Ted De Bruin (who hails from the Midwest, not Pennsylvania), building the perfect cheesesteak is a mission. Five years after he opened the joint, his shop serves 500 sandwiches each week, and even ships in soft Amoroso’s rolls directly from Philadelphia to keep the flavors and textures pure.

It’s the eatery’s vibe that also makes Denver Ted’s stand out from the competition. At lunch, East High students and Capitol staffers crowd the booths and stools, and at night a neighborhood crowd lingers. Customers play Sorry!—the booths’ tabletops have built-in board games—watch ESPN, and sip on $2 PBRs. And while you can take your order to go, opt to eat in before the sandwich cools. Hot off the grill, with melted cheese and an authentic bun, this is one of Denver’s best takes on a Philly original.

1308 Pearl St., 303-830-9089

This article was originally published in 5280 June 2009.
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner is a Denver-based writer and the former Articles Editor for 5280.