Back off, get your own sandwich! Vancouver's must-try delis

Wonder Bread and PB&Js are relegated to distant childhood memories in the face of the unbelievable sandwich offerings now available in this city. After sampling the two slices of bread and fillings suggested in various configurations below, you’ll forever expect more from your lunchtime staple. This is a good thing. [Image courtesy of Railtown Cafe]

The Dirty Apron Cooking School & Delicatessen

540 Beatty St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2L3

You may know the Dirty Apron as a cooking school, but you won’t be asked to make your own sandwich when you stop in to their deli for lunch. Aside from their mouth-watering daily creations, they have a consistent menu of grilled or baguette sandwiches, many of which could be confused for dinner entrees. Thai beefsteak with tamarind vinaigrette or slow-braised lamb with raita – these combos betray the culinary haute-ness of this Crosstown must-visit.

Cafe Trafiq

4216 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V 3P9

Hip young families, strong coffee and a bright dining room define this cheery Mount Pleasant cafe. But their ample sandwiches are what really make Trafiq destination-worthy. Thick slices of house-made bread are topped with piles of fresh ingredients – their vegetarian is named Dragged Through the Garden and it’s apt. Choose from their specialty menu or build your own – pair it with a delicious daily soup and you won’t need to eat till tomorrow.

Nelson The Seagull

315 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2J4

Straight out of Stockholm in its aesthetic sensibility, this Gastown daytime fave oozes style. Old books, terrariums and a record player fill the large open space. Locals perch on stools at communal tables. More lunch plate than sandwich per se, there are only two options: carnivore or herbivore. Both have a made-at-home feel (in a good way), with wedges of dark country bread that you can top how you wish. Bring your MacBook to fit in.

Meat & Bread

370 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2N3

With a name like this, customers may think they know exactly what they’re getting. But the folks behind this hugely popular lunch counter keep you guessing by changing their offerings daily. Honey mustard turkey with summer squash pickles, arugula and Tabasco mayo? Or Fraser Valley braised beef chuck, with fennel onion jam, thyme aioli, parsnip and celery? You’ll have to drop by or check their site to find out. Even vegetarians are welcome.

Finch's Tea House Ltd

353 Pender St W, Vancouver, BC V6B 1T3

Cradled in brown waxed paper to go, or served on chipped Staffordshire china plates, chewy French baguettes are stuffed with the simplest sandwich fillings to satisfying effect at this English-style vintage teahouse. Blue brie with walnuts and pear or prosciutto with edam, this is lunchtime perfection. And we’re not the only ones who think so. Expect line-ups out the door on weekdays.

Railtown Cafe

397 Railway St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1A4

Proudly smoking their own meats or slow-roasting brisket for 35 hours, the chef and partners behind this welcome café in the increasingly populated Railtown neighbourhood bring real foodie cred to their latest venture. In-house baking, sous-vide cooking and the uncompromisingly fresh ingredients found in the sandwiches all contribute to making this a new favourite lunch stop for the fashion creatives and start-up techies at work just east of Gastown.

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