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California sandwiches

What’s for Dinner? California Sandwiches – Toronto

by Mary Chong
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I’ve eaten at California Sandwiches for probably 30 years.

My husband introduced the mom and pop restaurant to me back when we were dating and at that time we used to go to the original restaurant on Claremont Street in the Little Italy area of Toronto.

Started in 1967, this family-owned restaurant chain started as a corner grocery store on a little residential street where they would make hot sandwiches. They soon realized that they had more customers coming for the sandwiches than for the groceries and quickly switched gears to capitalize on the growing demand. There are now 11 California Sandwiches locations across the Greater Toronto Area.

I remember that every time we would go to the original shop, the streets would be lined with police cars and taxi cabs on their lunch/dinner breaks. This is a strong indicator of good eats to come because if the Police and the cab drivers eat there – it must be good!

Take out was the thing to do because there was no way that you’d be able to get a table! So, with our sandwiches in hand, we would go to the park for a picnic.

The sandwiches haven’t changed much in those 30 years; they are still made to order using only fresh ingredients and home-made tomato sauce. The only change is the price – On their website, they show a copy of their original menu. Sandwiches were only 50 cents back in 1967!

They serve the usual: Steak, meatball, veal, chicken cutlet, sausage

Here’s my typical order

Veal sandwich with sautéed mushrooms/onions and extra sauce – a steal at $7.99 Cdn.

California sandwiches
I should have taken a photo of my hands holding the sandwich so that you could see the massive size of the sandwich. There is no way that I could ever eat the entire thing in one sitting but that just means that I have awesome leftovers tomorrow. (wink)

As you can see, the portions are huge! It’s super saucy, messy and filling. You have to eat quickly since the extra sauce starts to soak into the bread.

Be warned – this is not first date food!

Don’t forget to grab a stack of napkins – trust me you’ll need them.

For more Toronto articles, check out:
Exploring the Village of Yorkville Toronto
Caplansky’s Deli Toronto

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Sharon M August 6, 2013 - 6:59 pm

OMG I love these sandwiches. I’m glad I live far away from here! LOL.

Jennifer July 30, 2013 - 3:24 pm

Yum! I’d like to try the steak or meatball!

Mary Chong July 30, 2013 - 3:52 pm

Both great choices! Both ooey and gooey goodness…

Angela August 9, 2013 - 11:36 am

Will need to make this my mission to try these sandwiches. Thanks for the suggestion Mary :)

Mary Chong August 12, 2013 - 1:44 am

Would love to hear what a real Italian thinks about these Italian Sandwiches!

Martin July 29, 2013 - 7:25 pm

Those sandwiches are to die for. I used to go to the one on Queensway for lunch occasionally. Mmm…veal sandwich with grilled green peppers and cheese. Sooo filling.

noel July 29, 2013 - 3:16 pm

wow, those sandwiches are huge, can I have a bite?

Mary Chong July 29, 2013 - 5:03 pm

You’re going to have to come to Ontario for them….

Alouise July 28, 2013 - 7:15 pm

There was a California Sandwich not too far from where I was staying with my family in Richmond Hill, but I didn’t go. Looking at that picture of the veal sandwich I wish I would have. Next time I’m around the GTA I’ll have to check this restaurant out.

Chris Christensen (Amateur Traveler) July 28, 2013 - 1:01 pm

What makes them California sandwiches?

Mary Chong July 28, 2013 - 2:42 pm

Great question Chris….I don’t have an answer for you. The website doesn’t explain the history of the name and there is no explanation on display at the restaurants. Interesting too is that there are competing restaurants that serve similar sandwiches that go by the name San Francisco Sandwiches!


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