Aside from the unmistakably original title — a play on one of owner Ben Runde’s nicknames — much of GinGinBunBun’s exterior can be easy to miss. The sandwich shop — situated on the corner of 38th and Perry — is one of the better-kept secrets in the Berkeley neighborhood, bringing a decidedly different approach than many of its more ritzy neighbors. Featuring a dining counter with only four available seats and a small open kitchen, the place is built to serve meals on the go — Runde having opted to focus primarily on perfecting the menu. Acting as something of an ode the fast eateries of larger urban centers like Chicago and San Francisco, GinGinBunBun has done a good job of restyling the classic model with imaginative takes on sandwiches from across the globe.
Having opened in March 2018, GinGinBunBun has spent nearly two years winning over the neighborhood with its multifaceted menu and legitimate commitment to providing affordable and delicious food. “A business that does good is good for business,” grinned Runde. “When you walk in you’ll smell something cooking,” he continued, regarding his single-handed dedication to producing great fare. The place is warm and inviting, the smell of hot sandwiches always wafting out of the front door.
The menu’s almost bemusing diversity is much of what gives the place its charm. More classic sandwiches are joined by internationally-inspired fare and original concoctions. “I always stop at any sandwich shop I see if I haven’t tried it yet,” mused Runde. While the list has clearly has benefitted from plenty of research, a real love for the craft underpins the whole operation. Even with the wide culinary range, each item is handled gracefully — inviting unexpected pairings. The 38th Ave ($8.25) — one of the house originals with shredded chicken, green chiles, sour cream, shredded taco cheese and red and green pepper atop a hoagie roll — is best when dipped in the African Peanut Soup ($3.50). The Turkey Reuben ($8.95) with deli turkey, Swiss cheese, house-made red cabbage sauerkraut and house-made thousand island dressing does the original justice over freshly griddled rye bread. The Korean Street Sammie ($8.25) sees an egg omelet filled with cabbage, carrot and onion placed on white bread then topped with American cheese, ketchup, mayo and a dash of sugar. The colorful creation is classic Korean street food, masterfully reproduced as one of the menu’s finest selections.
In lesser hands, GinGinBunBun’s general lack of restrictions could give the place a chaotic feel. Instead, the multifarious menu endears it to its forebears’ commitment to allowing the food to speak for itself. As much of the surrounding neighborhood continues to develop towards the chic, GinGinBunBun excels in its modesty, providing a gentle reminder that fun food is often the best food.
GinGinBunBun is located at 4004 West 38th Ave., Denver. It is open Monday – Saturday 11:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
All photography by Adrienne Thomas.