After more than a month’s worth of pitched battles — during which smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and garlic salt flew in all directions — we have finally crowned a winner in The Denver Post’s annual food bracket challenge. This year, we pitted 32 of the best hot chicken sandwich purveyors against one another and, as always, we threw it open to readers to decide.
Just like the NCAA’s real March Madness tournament, there were plenty of surprises and upsets along the way, but the last sando standing is from the owner of the Scratch food truck, who runs a permanent location inside 300 Suns Brewing in Longmont. The collaboration beat out Dave’s Hot Chicken, a fast-growing L.A.-based hot chicken chain with two locations in Denver.
Nate Say, who partnered with 300 Suns Brewing owners Dan and Jean Ditslear to open the kitchen in 2019, said the brewpub, at 335 First Ave. in Longmont, sold more than 2,000 Nashville hot chicken sandwiches and tenders last weekend as a result of the competition.
Say’s chicken is hand battered, soaked in buttermilk overnight, seasoned with a flour mixture, fried to order, and brushed with hot chili oil.
“It’s been great to just be nominated, be in the running, and go up against all these awesome local businesses,” Say said. “I’m honored we got to be the one to take home first place, and I’m just overall glad it got to be somebody that’s a local, Colorado-owned business.”
To get to the championship, 300 Suns and Scratch had to knock off some mighty competition, including Blazing Bird, which beat out top contender Music City Hot Chicken, as well as Lea Jane’s Hot Chicken, Republik of Chicken and Colorado Plus Brew Pub.
Dave’s, which has a huge following and more than 100 locations around the country, was recently named as the fastest-growing chain in the U.S. It was originally founded by friends Dave Kopushyan (who trained at the three Michelin-star restaurant The French Laundry), Arman Oganesyan and Tommy and Gary Rubenyan as a small stand in East Hollywood.
“It’s a true David and Goliath story … only Goliath is Dave so that’s confusing but, hey, we wanna say thank you to all the customers, friends, new customers, fellow businesses and their staff, teams, organizations, and our team for voting, and Chef Nate for bringing what we think is Colorado’s best spicy chicken to our brewery,” 300 Suns recently wrote on its Facebook page.
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