At 11:30 am, I can look up Albert Street in the business district and barely a soul will stumble across my line of vision. Fast forward to noon, and the streets around my tiny downtown pad are bustling with suits, skirts and briefcases. Where are all of these people going you may ask? Well, they are all on a quest for the best sandwich to fill their tummies in a short but sweet lunch break. I decided that, in fact, I had no idea about the various sandwich-eries that are so close to my own abode and that it is about time I figure out a spot that can be my own go-to for a good ol’ sammy ( samdoozle, adam sandler, call it what you will. . . ). Here are 4 of the best known sandwich places in the downtown core, what I thought of each and which one takes the cake for Ottawa’s best sandwich.
First on the docket: Nicastro’s Botega
Nicastro’s is a thriving specialty store with a few locations scattered throughout Ottawa; however, their location on George Street in the Byward Market is definitely the most happening. Filled to the brim with traditional Italian fare, Nicastro’s sandwich counter hides at the back of the store amongst the deli counter and vast cheese selection. In a subway style, create-your-own-sandwich, Nicastro’s has taken the simple sandwich you build for yourself at Subway and made the most delicious Italian version with a variety of breads, meats, cheeses and toppings. One catch: their selections of sauce is limited to dijon, mustard or mayonnaise. So for those of you who care for a little ancho-chipotle or sweet onion atop your sandy. . . forget it.
Top this: Provolone cheese, Hungarian salami, Cappicola, lettuce, tomato, spicy eggplant and mayo – $4.87
An unlikely shop to find a sandwich, Planet Coffee is best known for their house blend rather than their paninis. But, truth be told, they also grill up a tasty sandwich along with soups, salads and baked goods. So I popped in to try their panini of the day. The selling point? They grill all of their sandwiches and on a cold day, a hot panini can go a mile.
Top this: Turkey, gouda, spinach and red pepper jelly – $5.25
Next up, and wildly close to home, is The Green Rebel. I had high hopes for this spot, but to my disappointment, it turned out to be a little less than revolutionary. Aside from the sandwich (which was fine), the interior of The Green Rebel is incredibly sterile. Furthermore, the prices are radical. But, the sandwich was good, so next time, I’ll take it to go.
Top this: “BLAT”, bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato with garlic aioli – $8.49
And delice doesn’t begin to describe how yummy this sandwich is. Soft bread, mouth-watering toppings, Cafe Delice does the sandwich right. But, this tiny nook is literally a nook and hardly ever has enough seating for the amount of patrons streaming through the doors. I guess this is another “to-go” sandwich spot.
Top this: Art-is-in-bread with spicy eggplant,hot peppers, havarti and cappicola – $5.79
Can I say that in these stops I found the best sandwich in Ottawa? I certainly hope not, because all three of these places could use a tweak here or a topping there. So, nuts, I leave you with this: the quest is not over. Drop us a line with your favourite sandwich spot in the city and I’ll check it out for Part 2 of the quest for the best.