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From meatball-topped banh mi and piled-high porchetta to fresh-from-the-fryer po’ boys and gooey grilled cheese, get ready to loosen your belt and find your new favourite sandwich in the city
Yes, it’s time to round up the top 10 essential sandwich experiences to be had in Vancouver. From meatball-topped banh mi and piled-high porchetta to fresh-from-the-fryer po’ boys and gooey grilled cheese, get ready to loosen your belt and find your new favourite sandwich in the city.
If heaven exists, then this is surely on its menu. Meat and Bread’s porchetta sandwich is the stuff of legends and dreams and never, ever fails to deliver sandwich nirvana. The porchetta is made from custom-butchered loin and belly pork from Two Rivers Meats, slow roasted and rolled in herbs with a moan-inducingly wonderful crunch of salty crackling, heaped high on a fresh ciabatta bun. The fat is cut with a bright salsa verde and there’s mustard served on the side. Do it right and ask for extra crackling.
370 Cambie Street, Vancouver
Up on Commercial Drive, La Grotta’s deli counter has a steady stream of sandwich fans and their chef Alex Tung knows why: “Our sandwiches are famous because they are made to order with your choice of freshly baked bread from Calabria Bakery and topped with generous amounts of meats, veggies and condiments. Grilled, if so desired, in the sandwich press, you get a full, warm sandwich, made the way you want it. It’s great value and I guess that’s why there’s been a lineup for a La Grotta sandwich every single day for the past 36 years. Our most popular sandwich is a fully loaded (tomato, lettuce, onion, olives, roasted red pepper, eggplant, spicy peppers, artichoke, sun-dried tomato) prosciutto with provolone on foccacia. My personal favourite is on the Italian bun with spicy mortadella, spicy havarti, tomato, red onion, green olives, banana peppers, pesto mayonnaise, oil and vinegar. It’s my go-to sandwich.”
1791 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Whether you head to Hubbub’s store on Robson or Hornby (and there’s another coming soon to Cambie), you’ll be sure of sandwich-based bliss when you get there. The concept is simple: they just sell one sandwich, but you can customise that with a protein of your choice and I recommend their best-selling pulled pork. The crunchy baguette is slathered in the house secret sauce, then topped with romaine lettuce, cilantro, pickled jalapeños and caramelized onions, then pork that’s been marinated for 24 hours and slow-roasted is piled high. Enjoy.
420 Robson Street and 859 Hornby Street, Vancouver
What used to be a Main Street insider’s secret has been blown wide open after a glowing Globe and Mail review… and now this. Sorry, Main Streeters, some things are just too good to keep to yourself, and Dock Lunch’s Banh Mi is a delight that needs to be shared. It’s a once-a-week treat which is only made on a Friday. The traditional French baguette spills over with large juicy pork meatballs, made bright with a Vietnamese-style slaw served up by chef-owner Elizabeth. Friday Dock Lunch sammies make for a great start to everyone’s weekend.
152 East 11th Avenue, Vancouver
For those cursing the bus that hit the Re-Up BBQ food cart last year, taking it off the road for good, help is just a short transit ride away to New Westminster if you’re jonesing for a one of their done-just-right sandwiches. The best-seller at the cute counter restaurant is the brisket, made using the finest 63 Acres AAA pasture-raised beef from the Kootenays. It’s smoked for 16 hours, rested for a few more hours, then sliced thickly and served on a toasted buttered Portuguese roll from one of the neighbouring bakers, and topped with coleslaw and a dollop of their special BBQ sauce spiced and fruity with cumin, chili and raisins.
810 Quayside Drive, New Westminster
Essentially like the best salad in the world, crammed between one of the city’s better baguettes, there’s just something kind of wonderful about Finch’s Pear sandwich. Maybe it’s the juiciness of the pear and the salty tang of prosciutto? Perhaps it’s the delicious juxtaposition of creaminess and pungency of Cambazola ‘blue brie’ cheese? Whatever it is, it all comes together in a perfect mouthful with roasted walnuts, and a judicious splash of oil and vinegar.
353 West Pender Street, Vancouver
Is there anything more joyful than heading up Main to the Fish Counter to shop for seasonally-appropriate 100 per cent Ocean Wise seafood, and then stuffing your face with a cooked-to-order Oyster Po’ Boy at the take-away counter (which has the city’s only gluten-free fryer) as a post-shopping treat? As co-owner Mike McDermid says, when it comes to a “big messy sandwich you can really sink your teeth into” nothing beats the Po’ Boy.
3825 Main Street, Vancouver
A small cafe in Railtown is probably the last place you’d expect to find one of the city’s most talented chefs, and yet this is where you’ll find Dan Olson, Team Canada’s 2013 Bocuse D’Or coach, who’s now creating some of Vancouver’s most delicious casual food. The cafe’s most popular sandwich is the Chicken Club, a warm chicken breast, served with 72-hour bacon and tomatoes, slathered in a green goddess dressing on a focaccia. Dan’s favourite (and mine) is the Pork, made with tender shoulder, jalapeño, cilantro, pickled vegetable aioli served up on a french baguette. Look out for their Tailgate BBQ block parties this summer.
397 Railway St, Vancouver
Is there anything better after a tough day at the office… in fact, anything more comforting and just plain wonderful than a grilled cheese sandwich? Well, yes, it turns out that there is. It’s the smoked Gouda grilled cheese sandwich that you’ll find on the menu at Buckstop on Denman, which comes served with house-smoked bacon and caramelized onions. Utterly gooey and perfect in every way, this cut-price marvel is available on their happy hour menu for just $6.
833 Denman Street, Vancouver
Prepare to be amazed: it’s not just chocolate and patisserie over at Thomas Haas, they do a jolly decent line of sandwiches too – the most popular on the menu is a Moroccan spiced free-range chicken number served with crunchy Fuji apples, toasted almonds, watercress, Havarti cheese and mayonnaise on an organic ciabatta bun. But hey, it’s still Thomas Haas, so just remember to leave room for dessert…
998 Harbourside Drive, North Vancouver