I love sandwiches, I know sandwiches, I eat sandwiches. But so does almost everyone else. So, when putting together a list of Montreal’s best sandwiches I knew I shouldn’t try to serve up some hubris on wry without consulting outside sources. I therefore took to Facebook for a little groupthink on the subject…
The tips came in like wildfire. There were heated arguments and passionate pleas. There was input from David McGimpsey, the only sandwich columnist I’ve ever heard of. As noted sandwich aficionado Socalled, a local musician, proclaimed: “Is there anything more innately human than a sandwich? Montreal is sandwich city.” He went on to suggest that this city needs to construct a statue of the Earl of Sandwich and I’m inclined to agree. Here’s a pretty tasty list of some of the city’s best, unranked due to fear of having my apartment pelted by sub-par sammys by outraged members of the community
Olive + Gourmando’s Cubain: One the most-cited sandwiches in my highly scientific survey, The Cubain is a hot-pressed panini with ham, braised pork, gruyere and a next-level mayonnaise. Often served with a side of celebrity sightings.
Romados’ Chicken Sandwich: There are a lot of Portuguese chicken spots in Montreal and most of them make a variation of this chicken-lettuce-tomato-mayo-and/or-hotsauce-on-a-Portuguese-bun affair. But since Romados makes the best chicken of all of them, by a couple country miles, and this is really a chicken-showcasing vehicle, this gets the nod.
The Wilensky Special: Someone confidently called this the “greatest sandwich in the universe”. It’s unlike anything else on this list and once you have it your taste buds will remember it forever. At the very least, it’s a hand-sized piece of Montreal history. Unchanged since 1932, it is fried bologna and salami in a bun, pressed nearly flat on the grill. Perhaps the best part about is that it always comes with mustard and it is never cut in two. If you can’t handle that, don’t go.
Milani’s Bánh mì: I’ve long been obsessed the Vietnamese sub, which, at Milani, is a baguette stuffed with strips of marinated and shredded chicken with onion, coriander, cucumber and carrot. Is this the best one in the city? Not sure, but it is the closest one to my house and that’s good enough for me.
Santropol: Santropol is a bit of a polarizing figure in the sandwich community. People swear by the Killer Tomato, the Pepper Island and the wonderfully named Sisters of Jeanne-Meance (taken “plus ham”). It is routinely voted one of the best sammy sources in the city. My issue is that, instead of artfully curating your sandwich, it often feels like they just crammed a salad between two huge pieces of bread and added half a foot of cream cheese. Asking for less cream cheese just seems to anger them.
Aux Vivres’ Chana Sandwich: Those looking for a veggie-friendly spot should consider skipping Santropol in favor of Aux Vivres. If you do, look no further than the Chana: chickpea curry, chutney and coriander served in chapati, which is an unleavened flatbread.
Momesso’s Sausage Sub: Though it will take a bit of a trip to get to, this joint is worth it. Sergio Momesso is an ex-Hab, a mid-level player whose post-hockey culinary career has been Hall of Fame-worthy. Though I favour the heartattack-inducing meatball sub, most people swear by the sausage sub as one of Montreal’s best.
Schwartz’ Smoked Meat Sandwich: Not only is this Montreal’s most famous sandwich, it’s one of Montreal’s most famous things, period. I’d like to point out that I personally feel that Lesters on Bernard is almost as good and the wait-time is negligible in comparison. And a shout-out to this great deal on the smoked meat served at Brisket Montréal.
Caffe Italia’s paninis. One of Little Italy’s finest panini purveyors, I’ve tried their roast pork and hot pepper affair and it’s pretty perfect. But the afore-mentioned McGimpsey mentioned a peanut butter sandwich that I’d never even noticed before and given his expertise, I’m willing to give it a plug, sight unseen.
Barros Lucos’ Barros Lucos: Though this is ostensibly an empanada place, I know several people (I include myself here) who visit solely for the namesake sandwich in which steak, avocado and cheese play starring roles.
Chez Nick’ Reuben: The Reuben is one of the hot sandwich world’s most decadent offerings (I view the Monte Cristo as belonging to its own category). It is corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and dressing (usually Thousand Island) all up in each other’s business and you’d be hard pressed to find a better version than the one served in Westmount’s longtime favorite diner.
Magnan’s Roast Beef : The only other place that can boast being around as long as Wilensky’s and Schwartz’ and Nick’s (clearly a testament the enduring qualities of sandwiches and ’s), the sprawling “Magnan Complex” is a shrine to roast beef. As such, the Double-decker roast beef sandwich is what you’ll want to order.
Le Pickup’s Pulled pork: Their Pulled Pork is one of the most buzzed-about sams in the city, often because it is such a cool and hip little spot. But sam-lovers don’t care about that and should be aware that it’s an entirely worthy version of the famed BBQ classic. They apparently offer a veggie version, which I’ve never been even close to trying.
(Due to a lack of space, I’ve omitted burgers, gyros, souvlakis, falafels, not to mention a handful of other spots that deserve recognition. Let me encase that apology in a thick slice of advice: any butcher shop that makes sandwiches to order is automatically included in this list. And please feel free to add any egregious omissions in the comment section)