The muffuletta sandwich at Culture Meat & Cheese hits home


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

Growing up, my grandmother would host dinner parties to celebrate a variety of holidays — even ones that didn’t apply to us, like Chinese New Year — to help my family learn about different cultures and cuisines. During Mardi Gras, we’d scarf down muffulettas, which is where my love for this singular sandwich originated. (And follow it up 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 deli called Central Grocery in 1906. It is typically made with ham, Genoa salami, mortadella, swiss and provolone, as well as (the best part) olive tapenade, a marinated, chopped olive salad — all served up on a round Italian semolina bread loaf.

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

Justin Brunson opened Culture Meat & Cheese in the Denver 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 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 marketplace where people can come grab a breakfast sandwich in the morning, a sandwich for lunch and a charcuterie board before dinner,” owner Justin Brunson said.

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

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