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The Flat-Out Best Reuben Sandwiches in Denver

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The moment you’ve been waiting for is here: the everything-food-and-drink list to end all lists. We’re undertaking a rather ambitious project—a year-long endeavor that lays out our flat-out best picks of the most exceptional culinary experiences in Denver and Boulder.

We’ll cover the usual suspects: tacos and ramen, for example. Pizza and burgers, too. But think of this as the Herculean version of Denver and Boulder’s gastronomic universe. Over the next 52 weeks (give or take), we’ll post 104 different lists, wherein we’ll give you the lowdown on the very best neighborhood restaurants, bottle shops and butchers, food festivals, pop-up dinners, industry nights, cooking classes and kitchen stores, chef counters, spice shops and cake shops, Cuban sandwiches, Chinese hot pots, and even the best food from truck stops. Who knows? We might be compelled to feature a fantasy-filled list of strip club grub that goes beyond thighs and breasts.

While you’re contemplating that, you may also want to consider the Reuben, which has nothing whatsoever in common with thighs or breasts, unless, of course, we’re discussing size, in which case, the word “stacked” very much applies here. The Reuben, a staple at Jewish delis, is, in may ways, the arbiter of sandwiches: voluptuous, messy, savory, meaty, cheesy, soulful, irresistibly satisfying, and prestigious in stature. And these five Reubens, some orthodox, others a little dissident, rise above the rest.

1. The Bagel Deli {6439 East Hampden Avenue, Denver; 303.756.6667}

Bagel Deli Reuben

Long before Guy Fieri (you know, that guy) waltzed into this longstanding deli in southeast Denver, the joint’s buxom Reuben had already made headlines. It’s a beast, mounted a mile high with shingles of salt-licked corned beef, slices of oozy Swiss cheese and tangy sauerkraut squished between slices of lightly bronzed rye. The fact that the sauerkraut is layered between the enormous stockpiles of meat ensures that the bread doesn’t succumb to liquid-logged shambles, and while wrapping your jaws around the thing is no easy feat, no one can fault you for trying. While I prefer the traditional Reuben, turkey and pastrami versions are available, too.

2. Olive and Finch {1552 East 17th Avenue, Denver; 303.832.8663}

Olive Finch Reuben

On a recent Saturday at Olive and Finch, smack-dab in the chaos of brunch/lunch, a small posse of curiosity seekers strode by the community table to admire my sandwich, half of which I ended up sharing with the couple sitting across from me, mostly because they couldn’t stop ogling and I was in a generous mood. That sandwich was the Reuben — a glorious, balanced synergy of majestically marbled fragments of housemade, pepper-rimmed pastrami tangling with melted Swiss cheese, tart sauerkraut, and a swipe of Russian dressing on buttered and griddled rye bread flecked with caraway seeds. In a word: superb.

3. Masterpiece Deli {1575 Central Street, Denver; 303.561.3354; 1710 Sherman Street, Denver; 303.832.6732}

Masterpiece Deli Reuben

If you want to worship at the alter of sandwiches, then you should probably bow at the door of Masterpiece Deli, Justin Brunson’s duo of sandwich shrines. Do they live up to the superlative in their name? Absolutely. Order the Reuben, and you’ll be handsomely compensated with a virtuous two-fister that brings to light all things holy: assertively seasoned, house-braised corn beef that’s flecked with fat; krout with a distinctively sour twang and noticeable bite of crunch; a cap of Swiss cheese; and a generous swat of Thousand Island dressing smeared across slices of buttered rye hued the color of honey.

4. Marion Street Tavern {1223 East 13th Avenue, Denver; 720.638.2461}

Marion Street ReubenWhen Marion Street Tavern opened a few months ago, I expected the burgers to steal the spotlight. After all, proprietor Sam Roots also presides over Providence Tavern, a watering hole in Edgewater that produces some of Denver’s most consistently good mountains of meat parked between a bun. Turns out that Roots and his kitchen cohorts have another secret weapon: the Reuben. Packaged between butter-brushed wedges of marbled rye, the brisket, roasted in house, parades pockets of marbling that yield juicy slices of beef smooched with shredded krout, plenty of bubbly Swiss, and a judicious lick of Thousand Island. It’s a perfectly behaved sandwich that doesn’t slip and slide around, and the ingredient ratios are spot-on.

5. Acorn {3350 Brighton Boulevard, Denver; 720.542.3721}

Acorn Reuben

Housemade pastrami, scented with profound smokiness, is the hallmark of Acorn’s Reuben. The pepper-studded meat, in all its crimson glory, is scaled with vinegary sauerkraut that retains its texture, a blanket of Gruyère, and a gentle thrust of Thousand Island dressing. The excellent bundle huddles between black-etched slices of rye from City Bakery, and while it doesn’t reach the kind of height that requires Superman to leap over tall buildings, the sum of its parts is nothing short of super.

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