Denver Central Market’s Culture Meat & Cheese makes the best muffuletta

Editor’s Note: This is part of The Know series, Staff Favorites. Each week, we’ll offer our thoughts on the best Colorado has to offer in dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and more. (We’ll also let you in on some hidden gems.)

Growing up, my grandmother hosted dinner parties to celebrate a variety of holidays, including some that didn’t apply to us, like Chinese New Year, to help my family learn about different cultures and cuisines. During Mardi Gras, we devour muffulettas, which is where my love for this unique sandwich originated. (And follow with a slice of king cake.)

A muffuletta (pronounced muh-fuh-leh-tuh) is an Italian sandwich created by Sicilian immigrants in a New Orleans Italian delicatessen called Central Grocery in 1906. It is typically prepared with ham, Genoa salami, mortadella, Swiss and provolone, as well as (the best part) olive tapenade, a salad of chopped, marinated olives, all served on a loaf of round Italian semolina bread.

Shortly after moving to Denver in 2019, I found the perfect muffuletta at Culture Meat & Cheese inside RiNo’s Denver Central Market at 2669 Larimer St.

Justin Brunson opened Culture Meat & Cheese at Denver's Central Market in 2016. (Lily O'Neill, The Denver Post)
Justin Brunson opened Culture Meat & Cheese at Denver’s Central Market in 2016. (Lily O’Neill, The Denver Post)

Culture Meat & Cheese, which opened in 2016 and has another location at Denver International Airport, serves up classic sandwiches like grilled cheese and pastrami, as well as charcuterie boards, soups, and salads.

“I love cheese, I love salami, and I wanted to do something that was a little more European-style in a market where people can come for a breakfast sandwich in the morning, a lunch sandwich, and a board. charcuterie before dinner,” owner Justin Brunson said.

Brunson once owned Masterpiece Delicatessen in LoHi, which closed at the end of 2019. There, he was able to experiment with a more extensive menu of creative sandwiches, such as the popular truffle egg salad sandwich. He also owned butcher-focused restaurant Old Major, which closed in 2020 during the pandemic, and co-owned River Bear American Meats, which he sold in February to focus on a new project he has in the pipeline.

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