Food & Drink
There’s a Sandwich Revolution Taking Over the Country
We’ve put together the ultimate guide to the ultimate crowd-pleaser, just in time for your next Canadian getaway.
by : Melodie Karama- Jul 5th, 2021
Don’t get us wrong, we love a good corner store sandwich as much as the next gal. Simple yet satisfying egg salad on pillowy-soft bread? Yes, please! Reliving our high school days with a good old ham & cheese? Say no more. But lately, sandwiches have been putting their best buns forward, quickly becoming one of the most exciting takeaway snacks we can get our hands on. Whether you decide to savour yours on the spot, at the park, or even in your hotel bed, the items on this list are sure to give your summer staycations, road trips, and long weekends some bite.
Yes, there’s a sandwich revolution taking over the country, but this isn’t just a Canadian trend. Time Out’s Morgan Olsen highlighted the “25 most spectacular sandwiches in the world right now”, from Tokyo to L.A. to Lima. And can you guess which Canadian restaurant made the cut? Montreal’s Nopalito, where chef Christian Manuel Ventura Alatorre has created the vegan “Veracruzana” torta. Filled with black beans, mushrooms, plantain, and feta “cheese”, it’s a handheld wonder.
While Montreal’s culinary scene is well-renowned, it’s not just the usual smoked meat treat and lox bagel that reign supreme on everyone’s must-eat lists lately. Creations from a new crop of delis, counters, and shacks have everyone talking… and drooling.
Take, for example, Mitch Deli, Maxime Gagné’s pandemic-born sandwicherie. Nestled inside a record shop, the kitchen has not only been cooking up one of the best fried chicken sandwiches in the city (and that’s saying something), but many other delights too. Just picture one of their recent specials: tuna tartare, roasted squash, ponzu, coriander cream, lettuce, and puffed rice on a shimmery, buttery bun.
Beau Temps is another pandemic baby. Originally intended as a wine bar, it began operating as a gourmet takeout sandwich counter in the heart of Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood last winter. And FYI, their fried fish sandwich, doused in tartar sauce, was a welcome summer throwback. The team’s other venture, Parasol, is a seasonal lobster and crab shack located in a converted garage behind the restaurant. And it’s one of the best places to celebrate summer in the city. Period.
On the topic of shellfish, here’s one of the most amazing bites we had while hunting for the best thing since sliced bread: Bistro Otto’s shrimp burger. We’re trying to find the words to describe this snack without being dramatic. Maybe we should just give you the lowdown: a breaded black tiger shrimp patty topped with lettuce, cilantro, Japanese pickles, yuzu mayo, spicy tomato sauce, and sweet miso on a cloud-like sesame bun. Is your mouth watering yet?
A newcomer to Montreal’s St-Henri area, BarBara has been slinging out all kinds of Italian delights. But for our intents and purposes, it’s the layers of mortadella, provolone, dijon, and caponata on fresh focaccia that caught our eye.
Not too far away, Clarke Café is the place to go for a traditional sangwhich, despite the near-permanent lineup. The menu is as simple as it gets: choose between the likes of salami, prosciutto, or capicollo, and let the team do its thing with the addition of lettuce, tomato, cheese, and your choice of extras. If cold cuts aren’t your thing, the chicken cutlet or grilled vegetable options should do the trick.
But if cold cuts are your thing, look no further than McKiernan, just a little further west. Let us introduce you to their version of the muffuletta: towering layers of homemade mortadella, spicy soppressata, and ham are piled on top of house bread along with plenty of cheese, shredded lettuce, and a pickled vegetable spread. You better gear up for this one.
Capitaine Sandwich and More
There aren’t enough words to cover the breadth (and height!) of incredible sarnies in Montreal, but here are a few more spots to keep you going on this city-wide quest: Salle Climatisée, Tinc Sec, L’Andouille, Capitaine Sandwich, and of course, mainstays Olive & Gourmando, Dépanneur Le Pick Up, and Wilensky’s, which will forever hold their place in our sandwich-loving hearts.
Just outside of Montreal, Danny Smiles, the former chef at Chuck Hughes’ Le Bremner, has been prepping the ultimate picnic baskets at Hudson’s Willow Inn. Along with the (perfect) lobster roll, fans of classic sarnies will want to grab the (equally perfect) tomato sandwich served on homemade challah. It’s worth the drive no matter where you’re coming from.
That brings us to Toronto, where the competition for the best fried chicken sandwich, Japanese sando, and breakfast sammie is hot, hot, hot.
Let’s start with breakfast (as one does). In Kensington, Egg Bae’s Eh Bae Bae – a golden brioche filled with the fluffiest scrambled eggs, house-cured bacon, Muenster, tomato, arugula, pickled shallots, and tangy Bae Sauce – might be the only meal you need that day.
Meanwhile, Egg Club is making the ham & cheese sandwich of our dreams. Between thick slices of Japanese milk bread, you’ll find creamy layers of folded eggs, cheddar, and ham, as well as sweet chili and their house sauce. There are loads more fillings to pick from, like balsamic onion, Swiss cheese, smoked sausage, and guacamole. But that bread, though…
Imanishi Basement Bar
In fact, if you’re as big a fan of shokupan as we are, allow us to introduce you to Imanishi Basement Bar’s Assorted Sando Set. You can try – count them – four sandwiches at once: fried mackerel (aji), fried shrimp (ebi), fried chicken (karaage), and breaded pork (tonkatsu). Crunch to your heart’s delight!
One more Japanese-inspired tip? You don’t have to ask us twice. Godspeed Brewery’s Katsu-Sando, a panko-breaded pork cutlet with tangy-sweet tonkatsu sauce on – you guessed it – the fluffiest milk bread, is up there with the best of the best.
PG Clucks and More
When it comes to fried chicken, Toronto’s culinary scene flies high. Check out Tokyo Hot Fried Chicken, PG Clucks, Chica’s Chicken, and The Heartbreak Chef, to name a few. It almost feels unfair to describe how their offerings stack up. They’re everything you could possibly want in a fried chicken sandwich – crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, perfectly seasoned – and we love them all equally.
Flora’s Deli and More
Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention the city’s Italian grub. One thing you could do is compare and contrast Flora’s Deli’s Norma Gina (eggplant cutlet, whipped ricotta, arugula, and hot honey) with Sugo’s Eggplant Parm (a lightly fried Italian eggplant stacked with mozzarella and the shop’s namesake tomato sauce) and Forna Cultura’s Melanzana (homemade sesame focaccia, thin slices of eggplant and zucchini, so-fresh-you-could-cry fior di latte, emmental, and arugula). Or you could go for a classic meatball sub. The world is your bread basket.
It should be clear by now that we can hardly contain ourselves when it comes to sandwiches. Thankfully, neither can Maha’s (truly) Mind Blowing Chicken sandwich, where the meat is tossed with parsley, onions, and tomatoes, and served on a (comparatively) miniscule egg bun with Egyptian tomeya (garlic sauce), tahini, and homemade mayo. You only have to see it to believe the hype.
Old Salt and More
Finally, it wouldn’t be summer if we didn’t mention Prince Edward County. While we’re on a roll (ahem), we thought we’d share some of the sandwiches that have been making regular appearances in our dreams while we patiently await the next long weekend. There’s Bermuda’s cauliflower shawarma flatbread, with zhoug, toum, a cucumber and tomato salad, feta, and spiced tahini. There’s Flossie’s Sandwich Parlour’s When Porky Met Petunia, a house-made sausage patty wrapped in bacon, topped with a fried egg, house aioli, and aged cheddar cheese. Of course (of course!), there’s Sand and Pearl’s unmissable lobster rolls. And while we’re not here to start another “do hot dogs count as sandwiches” debate, Old Salt’s cocktail and sausage pairings are especially irresistible, and well worth awakening the ire of sandwich purists!
On that note, we’re off to grab yet another bread-alicious snack. We hope you’ll have a great Summer of the Sandwich.
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