po boy sandwich

The top 10 po' boy sandwiches in Toronto

Po' boy sandwiches in Toronto are becoming less and less rare - Louisiana's favourite twist on a hero sandwich is turning into a hot menu item (literally). Superior (IMO) to your average submarine, a classic po' boy benefits from its hot filling - typically luscious fried seafoods or saucy torn meats - layered into a crusty bun and dressed up with slaw or fresh toppings.

While once a rare commodity on Toronto menus, these sandwiches have been adopted by sandwich shops, taverns and even fish mongers. And, while the name po' boy might be short for "poor boy", don't be fooled - these sandwiches aren't exactly cheap though still worth every penny.

Here, in no particular order, are my picks for the top po' boys in Toronto.

Billy Jack's Po Boy
This Etobicoke eatery offers the largest selection of po' boys in the city. Choices include deep-fried oysters with bacon, shrimp and catfish (fried or blackened), while the seafood-averse can opt for pulled pork, sliced beef, grilled chicken or Andouille sausage. There's also a fried green tomato version and Acadian poutine loaded with fresh-cut fries, curds and a coffee-infused red eye gravy. Order a 6" shorty ($9.95) or 8" behemoth ($11.95).

The Tavern by Trevor
A little more upmarket than your average tavern, this local on Spadina plays up contrasting textures and temperatures when it comes to this hero of a sandwich. The po' boy ($10) is comprised of creamy, cold shrimp salad paired with battered and fried chunks of pickerel on a fluffy bun.

Fish St. Market and Open Kitchen
The midtown fishmonger will let you pick your seafood to be fried up (or grilled) and stacked on a crusty baguette. Hovering around $14 per order are popular picks like calamari, shrimp and cod, while oyster and lobster fluctuate with market price. When in season, you'll even find soft shell crab. Po' boys come overflowing with roasted peppers, mushrooms, corn and slaw and are finished with spicy chipotle mayo and tomato jam.

Market St. Catch
The Buster's Sea Cove spin-off located next to St. Lawrence Market offers two po' boy sandwiches made of lightly breaded, Cajun-seasoned oysters ($10.95) or shrimp ($9.95). Built on house-baked herb focaccia buns, these seafood sandwiches come dressed with tartar sauce, chipotle mayo, lettuce, tomato, red onion and dill pickles. A side of coleslaw comes with each order.

Fresco's Fish and Chips
This Kensington Market chippy offers po' boy sandwiches among its roster of fried fish specialties. The lobster po' boy ($8) is an easy favourite offered at excellent value - it's for that reason that you'll often find it out of stock. Your Plan B: The shrimp ($8) or fish po' boys ($7), which come served on puffy buns slathered with chipotle mayo and dressed with coleslaw.

Brock Sandwich
The sandwich shop on Bloor offers a mighty fine fried shrimp and giant squid po' boy ($10) dressed with spicy slaw, tangy tomatillo sauce and sprigs of fresh cilantro. Sides are extra, including Yukon Gold paprika fries ($3.50), in case you're craving even more spice) and truffled poutine ($6).

John & Son's Fish and Chip Shop
Here, the oyster po' boy starts with a soft French bun and gets slathered with habanero-lime mayo and topped with a spicy poblano slaw. Enjoy the sandwich with a choice of fries or salad for $12 or pony up $2 more at the adjacent restaurant.

The Wren
At this year-old Danforth saloon, where the menu is built around twists on southern and Mexican classics, the oyster po' boy ($18) is built on a crusty bun loaded with crispy fried oysters and dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickled red onions and tangy horseradish mayo. Enjoy fries on the side, or sub in a salad for an extra dollar.

The Local Gest
This Cabbagetown pub, located in the former Ben Wicks, serves a beer-battered, deep fried haddock and shrimp po' boy ($13.95) loaded onto a ciabatta and embellished with cooling lettuce and spicy red salsa to give it a little bite. Fries or salad are included on the side.

Pacific Junction Hotel
The lightly dusted and fried oyster po' boy ($13) at this King East establishment are loaded onto a traditional crusty bun with housemade remoulade, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. Sandwiches come with a choice of homemade chips or lettuce wrap.

Did I miss any? Leave your favourite Toronto spot to grab a po' boy sandwich in the comments.

Photo from The Tavern by Trevor by Jesse Milns

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