Specializing in smoked meat and Jewish delicacies like latkes and matzoh ball soup, Caplansky’s is an iconic Toronto sandwich joint in the heart of the city. Credited with reviving the delicatessen scene, owner Zane Caplansky has been a pioneer in the culinary scene in Toronto since the opening of its first location on College Street. What started as a pop-up restaurant, is now a popular sandwich spot with three locations loved by locals — and there’s even a food truck (the first in Toronto, in fact). The smoked meat is the obvious choice for first timers, and don’t forget to get it ‘fresser’ style, where you get double meat. Because why not?
Completo began as a food stand in Kensington Market, serving up classic Chilean sandwiches, featuring grilled steak called churrasco and boxed fries topped with steak and eggs. About a year later, Completo moved to Leslieville for a more permanent and quaint location. Started by two friends, this tiny joint is a special place with an open kitchen that cranks out sandwiches that pack a punch of flavor. Go for the ‘Churrasco,’ a classic street food dish found in Chile, served with grilled steak (pork or chorizo sausage are also available), tomato, avocado, roasted red pepper sauce, mayo and house-made hot sauce piled high on a toasted bun from Silverstein’s Bakery. There’s also vegan chili, house-made chips and dip and a loaded grilled cheese for those meatless Mondays.
Porchetta & Co.
Home to one of the best porchetta sandwiches in Toronto, Porchetta & Co. stands out as one of the superiors, reigning over the area of sandwiches with their slow-roasted pork with a crispy skin and tender meat. First timer? Go for the house special: roasted pork shoulder, crispy skin cracklings, truffle sauce, parmesan, mustard and hot sauce. Be sure to also get a side of the rapini, cooked in garlic and chili, and the newly added poutine, topped with crispy cracklings and pork-based gravy. Not into pork? Opt for the chicken sandwich, a ridiculous combination of buttermilk fried chicken, pickles, lettuce, hot sauce and ranch dressing (only available at the King W location). Don’t think, just do. You’ll thank us later.
Black Camel, a go-to spot for sandwiches since 2004, has mastered the craft. It offers five types of meat that can be personalized with the addition of house-made sauces, and two classic sandwiches — the BLT and the BLT plus chicken (otherwise known as the famous ‘Club’ sandwich). The beef brisket is their specialty, a five-day process of marinating, roasting and resting, that produces beautifully tender meat perfectly paired with house-made BBQ on a soft bun. There’s also pulled pork, grilled steak, roasted chicken, and the veggie option: tomato, red pepper, arugula and eggplant sandwich. The BBQ sauce is a must, but if you’re into splurging (another 50 cents or so), be sure to get an additional sauce. The ‘Charamoula’ mayo is a fan favorite, featuring garlic, lemon, cilantro and smoked paprika. Also add the caramelized onions, fontina cheese and sautéed cremini mushrooms. Try to get there early, as these usually sell out quick; or, check their Twitter feed for updates on sandwich availability.
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Brock Sandwich is all about sandwiches: from the deep-fried chicken piri piri with charred onion to the shrimp and squid po’boy with spicy coleslaw and tomatillo sauce, this spot will never let you down. Vegans can rejoice in the two vegetarian options (the crispy fennel sandwich and the BBQ smoked jack fruit are both delicious combinations). There’s even an option for a gluten-free bun — and don’t forget the paprika fries or the truffled poutine, a perfect Quebecois creation.
Started by the owners of popular Italian spot, Terroni, Sud Forno is their take on an Italian bakery. Located on Queen Street West just a few doors down from the original Terroni location, this beautifully designed spot will transport you to back to Italy, but with a modern twist like white marble counters, a chalkboard menu and custom tiled floors. Loaves of bread line the walls, and with this as their specialty, it’s no wonder the sandwiches here are a sought-after lunch bite. The baker, Fabio Pappa, came straight from Naples to bring some of the best bread to Toronto, using only high-quality grains and flours imported from the Marche region and prepared using traditional methods. The sandwiches are simple, but the ingredients and freshly baked bread pack all of the flavor. Go for the ‘panino toscano’ featuring salame, artichoke spread, truffled Pecorino cheese and fresh arugula or the ‘panino classico’: prosciutto di parma, fior di latte, tomato and basil. Be sure to finish the meal with a fresh pastry, all made in house.
A new guy on the scene and started by a former executive chef from Marben, Carver has already made a name for themselves. Based on the premise of serving only slow-roasted meats, all sandwiches here are flavor-packed, beautifully crafted, and served on soft focaccia. Go for the porchetta sandwich featuring pork roasted with pork belly, lemon and herbs, and served on top of an apricot mostarda, pickled red onions and crackling. Or, opt for the chicken sandwich — locally sourced, organic and herb roasted chicken with basil, tomato chutney and a charred lemon aioli. Be sure to add the loaded baked potato (you won’t be disappointed).
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A spinoff of Barberian’s Steak House, TLP (short for three little pigs) has a nice selection of sandwiches (all of which are superb), but the Barberian’s steak sandwich is where it’s at, unsurprisingly. Garlic butter, mushrooms, Cuban peppers, caramelized onions and ground steak — need we say more? For non-steak lovers, the fried calamari sandwich is one of the best in town, with lemon mayo, lettuce, tomato and cucumber on a bun. Don’t forget the sauces.
Boar Sandwiches, a Yonge and Davisville hot spot brought to you by the owners of the Black Camel, is serving up classic Italian sandwiches, all providing that homestyle feel and flavor. Choose from veal, chicken, meatball, sausage or portobello and customize the sandwich yourself with the addition of house-made sauces like tomato, arugula pesto and lemon garlic aioli and toppings like caramelized onions, roasted hot banana peppers, mushrooms, cheese, arugula and roasted bell peppers. If you’re feeling fancy, go for the mozzarella di Bufala for a cheesy, melt-in-your-mouth creation. If you’re into keeping it simple without sacrificing flavor, this is the spot for you. Go for their specialty, the veal, or opt for the meatball sandwich — the perfect ode to nonna’s meatballs.
This deli-butcher shop has made a name for itself, bringing the best cuts of meat and delicious sandwiches, soups and salads to Kensington Market. Sanagan’s Meat Locker took over the famous European Meats location and locals had high expectations — and boy, did Sanagan’s deliver. It’s now an artisanal deli with house-cured meats galore and charcuterie, locally sourced groceries and dairy products, and showcases the best Ontario has to offer in both meat and poultry. If you’re looking for a solid sandwich, this is the spot; try the Korean fried chicken sandwich, a fan favorite, topped with house-made kimchi, pickles and stuffed inside a warm bun. There’s also other fab options like the roast chicken with crispy skin and remoulade, ‘the big jerk’ with jerk pulled pork, lime aioli and jicama slaw, pulled pork with BBQ sauce and roast beef with cheddar, mushrooms and gravy. Keep your eyes peeled for the daily sandwich special, which is always a hit.
Tortería San Cosme, a newer addition to the Toronto food scene, is all about the Mexican torta. Brought to you by the owners of Mexican restaurant, Milagro, San Cosme takes sandwiches to a whole other level. The ‘Cubana’ is a must-try — smoked Sanagan’s ham, abobo-roasted pork, double-smoked bacon, melted Gouda cheese, chipotle chiles, tomato, avocado and spicy Caplansky mustard — but you can’t go wrong with the ‘cochinita’ (shredded pork) or ‘pollo con mole’ (chicken with a sweet’n’spicy sauce), all served on bread from Blackbird Baking Co.
Sky Blue Sky
Sky Blue Sky Sandwich Company specializes in sandwiches, most of which are grilled panini-style, and that’s what they do best. With 35 sandwiches to choose from — all with creative names — and 10 vegetarian options, this sandwich haven should be on your list. Favorites include ‘say you miss me’ with beef brisket, BBQ sauce, swiss cheese, mushrooms and sautéed onion (don’t forget to add the avocado, tomato and bacon); and ‘one wing’ with sliced turkey, cream cheese, cranberry sauce and stuffing on cranberry and cream cheese bread. The sandwiches called ‘one sunday morning’ with pork tenderloin, apples, Dijon mustard and brie cheese on three cheese bread; the ‘king pin’, ‘at least that’s what you said’ and ‘I’m trying to break your heart’ are also other excellent choices. With 35 to choose from, this spot requires multiple visits — decisions, decisions.
OM Grilled Cheese
OM Grilled Cheese, a Kensington Market stop for cheese lovers, is cranking out 13 different grilled cheeses, nachos and grilled French toast (with specialty toppings that amount to a foodie’s dream). You can build your own sandwich, but we advise going with the ‘lord cheesus’ if you’re a cheese fan, loaded with five types of cheese — brie, havarti, cheddar, brick and mozzarella. Other good picks are the ‘wine country’, which features serrano ham, grapes, pickled onions, guava jam, and layers of cheese, pressed into melty goodness; or, the ‘king of swine’: pulled pork, provolone, brie, crispy onions, arugula and BBQ sauce. We advise getting your grilled cheese with a side of the OM tomato soup for dipping… because it’s delicious.
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