People have been putting meat and cheese on bread since ancient times, but most food historians will credit the creation of the modern sandwich to an Englishman named John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. The story goes that in 1762, Montagu was in the middle of a 24-hour gambling streak and looking for an easy way to eat his meal. So his cook brought to him a peice of meat between two slices of toast, and at that moment, the sandwich was born. Now each November 3rd, in honour of John Montagu’s birthday, we celebrate National Sandwich Day.
Since that day over 250 years ago, the sandwich has become one of the most popular foods in the world. The U.K. consumes an average of 11.5 billion sandwiches each year, and in the U.S., nearly 50% of the population will eat a sandwich today. But with all those sandwiches floating around, it’s hard to know which ones are worth your while. Thankfully, the sandwich biz has come a long way since Montagu’s time, and big cities like Toronto are flooded with amazing choices for lovers of this classic meal.
We’ve rounded up Toronto’s best sandwiches, to help you celebrate this monumental day, and maybe offer some travel inspo.
Best breakfast sandwich
The most important meal of the day definitely tastes better when eaten between bread. And who says breakfast has to include eggs and bacon anyway? We’re all about thinking outside the box, and the food at El Arepazo is just that. Arepas are flat, round cornbread sandwiches, and a staple of Venezuelan and Columbian cuisine. The folks at El Arepazo use recipes handed down from their grandparents mixed with international flavours, to create the perfect sandwich for anyone looking to venture away from a boring ol’ burger. While they don’t technically open for breakfast, the Veggie Works option has everything you need on a lazy Sunday morning. The perfectly fluffy arepa bread is stuffed with black beans, sweet plantains, avocado, tomato, melted queso fresco and as much hot sauce as you can handle. And if you’re really that stubborn, the menu also includes Venezuelan scrambled eggs.
A classic Montreal inspired bagel
Toronto is not necessarily a city known for it’s bagels, but being so close to both Montreal and New York, it’s no surprise that drool-worthy bagels have made their way to the 6ix. Nu Bügel in Kensington market offers traditional wood-fired bagels and a long list of house-made cream cheese and unique sandwich combos. Keep it simple with lox and plain cream cheese, or if you’re feeling bold, treat yourself to the smoked trout, dressed with arugula, horseradish jelly and mustard.
Most mouthwatering vegan sandy
Whether you’re vegan, veggie, or just looking to cut back on red meat, you can’t go wrong with the Tempeh Reuben at Bloomers. The all-vegan cafe has a pretty impressive list of sandwiches on the menu, including “Negg Salad” and a pulled jackfruit. But the number one spot has to go to their reuben. The sandwich is stacked with sauerkraut, pickles and avocado, and the texture of the tempeh is spot on. All this between two pieces of house made sourdough bread, brushed with a dairy free spread that tastes so good, you won’t believe it’s not butter.
Smokiest smoked meat sandwich
It’s been said that the smoked meat sandwich at Caplansky’s Deli could match up to any NYC hotspot, which makes it one of Toronto’s must-try places. This iconic College St. deli has been serving up Kosher sandwiches since 2007 and has expanded to Yorkville and Pearson Airport. If you’re lucky, you might catch their bright blue food truck rolling through your street at lunch time.
Gold-worthy grilled cheese
No sandwich round-up would be complete without a nod to the classic grilled cheese, and Toronto certainly has no shortage of this childhood fave. If you find yourself in the East-end, it would be crime to not make a stop Maha’s for lunch. This legendary Egyptian brunch spot goes beyond tradition to bring customers some of the best food the city has to offer. And their Date Grilled Cheese is no exception. Yes, you read correctly, dates. The geniuses at Maha’s sautée their dates in butter and then add them to a three cheese blend of gouda, havarti and swiss. The cheese sauce is stacked on egg bread, drizzled with honey and then grilled to perfection. Try it with a classic lentil soup for a meal you’ll dreaming about for weeks.
This November 3rd, instead of grabbing your usual tuna on rye, try giving one (or two or three) of these amazing sandwiches a try. Your tastebuds will thank you.