Need something to do this weekend? In honour of our 20th annual Golden Plates issue, we're talkin' food: here are five places to find a tasty and impeccably constructed sandwich.
Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck, often at Howe and Robson streets
With grilled cheese, it’s all about the ooze, a quality that’s in plentiful supply at this retro-stylish turquoise-and-silver wagon by the Vancouver Art Gallery. We’re talking melty pepper jack, provolone, Swiss, vegan, havarti, or good old-fashioned cheddar—whichever suits your fancy.
But grilled cheese is also about the bread, and that’s where these sammies really take things up a notch: multigrain, white, sourdough, and marble-rye versions are baked up daily, and it shows in the fresh, chewy, butter-toasty slabs that hold these babies together. (There are gluten-free options, to boot.) You can go for a fancier combo like Mister Marley, a tasty mix of chicken, chutney, pepper jack, Havarti, and potato bread, but we stick to Mom’s Classic for a true comfort-food fix.
Note that you pretty much can’t pass up the big sliced pickle on the side. The whole thing, about $7 to $11, is served up in a cute red-and-white checkered wrap that might have pleased Ozzie and Harriet.
Viet Sub, 520 Robson Street
The first clue that you are about to sink your teeth into sandwich heaven here is the fresh-from-the-oven, crusty baguette. From there, this killer bánh mi’s textures and flavours will have your taste buds doing back flips.
Crisp cilantro plays off a mountain of pickly daikon, cuke, carrot, and onion, sweet-hot chili mayo, and tangy, Asian-spiced meat. Go for the carnivore lover’s BBQ-meat version (ham, meatballs, and cold cuts) or the tender chicken. And grab one of the squeeze bottles on the counter to pile on the extra hoisin and spicy sriracha mayo. Just don’t expect to eat all this delicately.
You’ll find the lunch lineups pack out this extra-tiny, family-run hole in the wall, but the service is fast, efficient, and genuinely friendly. Did we mention it costs under five bucks?
Pâtisserie Lebeau, 1728 West 2nd Avenue
Normally, we’ve got a hard-and-fast lunch rule: we’re not paying more than $5 for something that we could easily make at home. So we’ll happily spend $9 on a clubhouse, yellow curry, or butter chicken. But forget forking that over for a simple ham-and-cheese on sliced bread, or tuna on a bagel.
Sometimes, though, rules are made to be broken. Taken component by component, Pâtisserie Lebeau’s sinfully delicious brie sandwich ($9.85, with tax) is something one could easily throw together after a quick trip to Granville Island. A fresh mini-baguette, a wedge of top-shelf brie, crisp lettuce, ripe tomato, and away you go, right?
Except that somehow homemade never tastes as delicious as Pâtisserie Lebeau’s brie sandwich, which is basically eight inches of creamy, buttery goodness. Trust us, we’ve tried to re-create the magic. Simplicity is the key—who needs mango-infused mayo or other condiments when all they do is mask the flavour of a classic cheese?
Lebeau’s baguettes are baked right on the premises, ensuring they’re Paris-perfect, right down to the crispy crust and essential sour-tang notes. Yes, you’ll feel like you’re clogging your arteries one spectacular bite at a time, but, luckily, taking off the bad years isn’t something we worry about. Mostly because, once we’ve broken the no-more-than-five-bucks-for-a-simple-sandwich rule, there’s no point sweating the small stuff.
Harvest Deli, 2963 West Broadway
This quaint West Broadway lunch spot knows the ins and outs of a good deli sandwich. Using healthy, whole ingredients and fresh-baked breads, the folks behind the counter at Harvest Deli are more invested in making you a good lunch than the teenager down the street who follows up every order with, "Do you want chips with that?"
With more than 20 different customizable options to choose from, no palate will go unsatisfied. Vegetarians can take solace in the fact that they aren’t relegated to one option: a total of six delicious sammies are made with non-meat-eaters in mind, including our personal favourite, the Born Today, served with alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes, pesto, red onions, bocconcini, and black-bean hummus on rye.
Options for omnivores range from the Well ’n’ Hot, where roast beef is complimented by dijon mustard, horseradish, sauerkraut, and extra old cheddar, to the Metisse, served with corned beef, pastrami, black olive tapenade, and scallion cream cheese. Did we mention that Harvest’s dressings are all made in-house?
Liquids + Solids, 901 East Hastings Street and 1550 West Broadway
Sure, the name sounds like something more often dealt with by hospital orderlies than a tasty lunch joint—but don’t let that put you off. Liquids + Solids is a self-described “food-development and production company” that specializes in fine soups, stews, chilis, and, of course, sandwiches.
Making every item from scratch, the company ensures that as many ingredients as possible are locally sourced and organic—a decision that makes a real difference to the taste. Regularly maligned as being unimaginative, the sandwich often gets a bad rap for its limited choice of fillings. Liquids + Solids, however, offers such complex delicacies as the Blue Moo (composed of free-range beef, sugar-cured smoked bacon, and tomato and blue cheese aioli, all served on marble rye) and the Grateful Veg (made of tomato, artichokes, bocconcini cheese, fresh basil and spinach, and house pesto aioli, on grilled focaccia bread).
With two centrally located café locations—one on West Broadway and another on East Hastings—it’s a convenient spot to take five from your upcoming afternoon of pencil-pushing.