For a fun group activity, why not try them all? Make it a sandwich feast!
Is there anything more universal in appeal than the sandwich? Across cultures and continents, we can all come together in appreciation of putting something delicious inside bread so you can pick it up and eat it with casual abandon.
A sandwich tour of St. Lawrence Market (92-95 Front St. E.), then, is not simply a fun way to fill up: it’s a cross-cultural odyssey. It’s also a way to sample a few of Toronto’s signature sandwiches, all conveniently located under one expansive roof. Here are some of our favourites.
1. Peameal bacon on a bun
What Americans know as “Canadian bacon” pales in comparison to the back bacon that Canadians actually eat. Firm, salty and leaner than side bacon, peameal bacon happens to be a local invention, and peameal on a bun is a key part of the Toronto experience.
A few thick slabs of peameal anchor the signature sandwich at Carousel Bakery. Ask for spicy honey mustard to be slathered on the big white bun and you end up with a simple and perfect trifecta of sweet, salty and meaty. Also worth considering is the peameal bacon sandwich from the market’s pub, Paddington’s Pump. It comes with more toppings if you want the “breakfast on a bun” edition, for example, which adds an egg and cheese.
2. Sangwich from Uno Mustachio
Another Toronto classic is what we call the “sangwich”—the name is a gentle ribbing of the pronunciation of first-generation Italian immigrants. It starts with a kaiser, includes tomato sauce and optional mozzarella, and you can ask for additional toppings such as mushrooms and peppers. The main filling is usually meatballs or veal/eggplant/chicken parmigiana. The singular genius of Uno Mustachio, on the market’s lower level, is that it allows you to combine multiple fillings—for example, the gigantic “Godfather” contains veal and eggplant. Wash it all down with a Brio, Toronto’s homegrown Italian-style chinotto soda.
3. Bagel sandwich from St. Urbain Bagel
A staple on the Sunday morning tables of Jewish Torontonians, the St. Urbain Bagel is a splendid, chewy experience by itself. To enjoy a bagel sandwich like a local, ask for a poppy seed, sesame or everything bagel and add any combination of lox (cured salmon), cream cheese, onions and capers.
4. Barbecue chicken sandwich from Churrasco St. Lawrence
Elsewhere in the Portuguese-speaking world, “churrasco” may mean any kind of grilled meat. In Toronto, it usually implies Portuguese-style rotisserie chicken. The barbecue chicken sandwich at Churrasco St. Lawrence consists of slightly smoky pieces of roast chicken on a bun with lettuce and tomato. Ask for the deliciously spicy piri-piri sauce to be served on the side so you can add it per your taste.
5. Lobster roll from Buster’s Sea Cove
This fish-and-chippery’s take on the classic lobster roll features a firmer bun than the norm, and more finely chopped lobster filling. Don’t tell the East Coast, but we think those are inspired variations on the theme.
Bonus: Chicken souvlaki from Yianni’s Kitchen
According to our Canadian Oxford Dictionary, a sandwich must have two or more pieces of bread. A souvlaki wrap—with its single, thick pita—is therefore not a sandwich.
Technicalities aside, Yianni’s Kitchen, on the lower level of the market, crafts a superior rendition of a chicken souvlaki wrap by filling it with juicy, char-kissed pieces of breast meat. And if you absolutely must have a literal sandwich, Yianni’s grilled cheese—on rye, with leeks, onions and two kinds of gooey cheddar—is as tasty as anything else on our list.
Getting to St. Lawrence Market
Head to Union Station, exit on Front Street East, and walk east to Market Street