Sandwiches! 10

These four favorites take the handheld meal beyond ham on white bread

John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, was kind of a jerk. He’s famous for his incompetence and corruption as a politician, as well as for having an affair with an opera singer while his wife’s health deteriorated. But he also invented the sandwich, so all is forgiven.

Alright so he may not have ‘invented’ it, but he did popularize it when he ordered his valet to tuck some meat between two slices of bread so he could satiate his hunger during a poker game without having to meddle with a cumbersome fork and knife. It’s pretty much Britain’s greatest contribution to the food world.

The sandwich is the portable, functional, end-all and be-all of meals. It’s the gastronomic equivalent to the Swiss army knife. It’s satisfying for lunch, yet strong enough to stand up to dinner. It’s the greatest invention since, well, sliced bread.

And while the humble sandwich can be thrown together with just about anything in your pantry and fridge, Denver’s delis boast some serious meat-bread-cheese combinations that elevate this brown bag staple to full on craveable status. Here are some of our favorites:

Salt & Grinder’s 32nd Street Reuben ($14)

Frank Bonanno has conquered pretty much every type of cuisine (French at Mizuna, Italian at Luca, Asian at Bones), so it’s no surprise that his Highlands sandwich joint is pretty darn good. An East Coast native himself, Bonanno missed the thick, meaty sandwiches he got back home. Nothing too fancy – just simple food made with high quality meat and fresh bread. The 32nd Street Reuben – made with pastrami, smoked turkey, slaw, Swiss cheese and thousand island on rye – is a favorite. Wash it down with a boozy cocktail for the perfect summertime meal. 3609 W. 32nd Ave.; SaltandGrinder.com

Olive & Finch’s Nanner’s ($10.25)

Kind of like a fancy ham and cheese with a twist, the Nanner’s consists of prosciutto, poached figs, brie and arugula between two slices of baguette from City Bakery. Although figs aren’t exactly a sandwich staple, their sweetness pairs perfectly with the saltiness of the prosciutto, while the creaminess of the brie plays against the arugula’s tang. It’s just a well-balanced, complex, delicious sandwich. Add a house cocktail (We like the Peachy Keen with whiskey and house-made peach thyme soda) and mini carrot cake and you’re set. 1552 E. 17th Ave.; OliveandFinchEatery.com

So Perfect Eats’ Southwest Turkey ($9.95)

Tucked away on the second floor just off the main Cherry Creek drag, this café is easy to miss but hard to stay away from once you’ve found it. The Southwest Turkey, with smoked turkey, avocado, tomato, cheddar cheese and spicy mayonnaise on a ciabatta roll, is a fresh-tasting, just-spicy-enough treat. (And it doesn’t hurt that the bread is baked right there in So Perfect Eats’ cheerful kitchen.) Billed as a lifestyle café, there’s more than just sandwiches. Shop for home goods and knickknacks while feasting on an array of desserts. Don’t miss the chocolate chip cookie – one of the city’s best. 278 Fillmore St.; SoPerfectEats.com

Masterpiece Delicatessen’s Braised Beef Brisket ($10.50)

Masterpiece Deli raised the bar for sandwiches in the mile high city when it opened seven years ago. As the name implies, sandwiches here are works of art – mouthwatering, extremely filling works of art. One such masterpiece is the 12-hour braised beef brisket with Taleggio fondue, caramelized onions, red wine gastrique and arugula on a fresh baguette. It’s not exactly something you could slap together at home, which is why you’re here in the first place – for the thoughtfully-crafted, expertly-prepared creations. 1575 Central St.; MasterpieceDeli.com