Sort-of Secret: Sandwichito, a one-man Chilean sandwich operation on St. Clair West
Part of our series shining a light on the city’s hidden edible gems
The sort-of secret: Sandwichito, a one-man Chilean-inspired sandwich operation on St. Clair West
You may have heard of it if: You got to know proprietor Sebastian Galvez at one of his other gigs
But you probably haven’t tried it because: It’s a three-month-old business with no dine-in space and minimal signage
It’s hard enough to come up with recipes from scratch—recreating them from memory is a different game entirely. That’s what Sebastian Galvez set out to do when devising the menu for Sandwichito, his new takeout-and-delivery-only sandwich business running out of a St. Clair West commissary kitchen. Galvez worked front-of-house at Lake Inez and Bodega Henriette before starting his sandwich business late last year. The inspiration for his menu? His Chilean roots—specifically, his grandmother Olga’s cooking.
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“I had a love-hate relationship with Chilean food as a kid. All I wanted was KD and chicken nuggets. But, in a way, I feel like the food I grew up eating has been speaking to me in the background for a long time,” he says. “Unfortunately, I didn’t have a strong interest in these recipes while my abuelita was alive. I wish more than anything that I could have just asked her how she made them. But I didn’t, so I had to teach myself.”
And teach himself he did. First on the list was carne mechada, or Chilean braised beef, which Galvez was always most excited for his grandmother to make. Olga would poke holes in the meat—Galvez uses chuck—and stuff it with carrot, celery and garlic. Galvez isn’t sure that stuffing the meat with tiny vegetable pieces before braising makes a noticeable flavour difference, but that’s beside the point. “It’s part of the magic,” he says.
The base—a crusty loaf from nearby Tre Mari Bakery—is layered with slices of braised beef, creamy garlic aioli, and a crunchy, vinegary green cabbage and onion slaw. Served with extra braising jus for dipping, it’s a heavy-hitting bestseller and a worthy homage to Olga. “There’s a certain flavour note I wanted to hit, and when I did, it was exhilarating,” says Galvez. “I read a lot of recipes and watched a lot of videos. Now, my carne mechada tastes like I remember it.”
Roasted pork loin is another menu staple. Think Italian sub, but subbing in for cold cuts is thinly sliced Chilean-spiced pork loin inspired by arrolado de huaso, a porchetta-style rolled pork. The traditional dish is boiled; Galvez took the flavour profile and roasted the meat instead. First, the pork is brined for five days in a bay, garlic and oregano solution. Before a final trip to the oven, it’s marinated with cumin, paprika and vinegar. Vinaigrette, infused with some of the aforementioned flavours, completes the sandwich along with giardiniera, mozzarella, hot sauce, roasted garlic aioli, and the standard sandwich veggie trifecta: shredded lettuce, red onion and tomato.
The vegetarian option—Galvez calls this his “least-Chilean item,” though it’s no less delicious than the others—is the papas fritas. Thinly sliced potatoes are griddled to crispy perfection on the flat top and garnished with mozzarella, pimento aioli, tomato, arugula and pickled red onions. It’s all pressed on the flat top, turning it into a cheesy, potato-y strata. Call it a notched-up grilled cheese with even more satisfying heft.
Also on the menu are two salads, each replete with thoughtful detail. Kale is dressed with charred scallion vinaigrette, crunchy puffed wild rice and golden raisins; a swirly cavatappi pasta salad comes laced with a basil-parsley dressing and peppered with corn, peas and carrots.
For the menu’s sole dessert, oatmeal, banana and chocolate chips join forces for a chewy, crisp-edged knockout of a cookie.
Whether slinging cocktails at Lake Inez or reinventing the dishes of his childhood at Sandwichito, Galvez’s hospitality career has largely centred the joy of meeting his neighbours. “I really love living here,” he says of his St. Clair West neighbourhood. “It feels great to support the bakery from down the street and to get my produce next door. I just want to get to know the neighbourhood and have it get to know me.” But, in lieu of a dining space, you’ll have to enjoy these excellent sandwiches at home or on the go. There’s a pickup window on Robina Avenue, just off St. Clair, and the sandwiches are available for delivery via any of the major apps.