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Aug 15, 2008 12:22 PM

Mike's Subs in Toronto

It's very hard to live here in Toronto without my monthly "co-star" sub from Mike's in Montreal. Can someone please tell me where in the GTA I could find something close to it? I wouldn't pay a loonie for a Subway sub or Quiznos sub, so please don't suggest those places. If you add the meat in four Subway subs and four Quiznos subs together, into one sandwich, it becomes one Mike's Sub. (Plus it tastes better).

Anyone, please help me !!!!

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  1. Very good question, I sure haven't found one. I even once made it at home, fried up some minute steak and pepperoni, toasted it all so the cheese melted, and topped with sliced tomatoes and shredded lettuce doused with a little Kraft Italian dressing. It was frankly a little more effort than what I used to do in Montreal, ie. call one of 100 delivery places.

    1 Reply
    1. re: childofthestorm

      Hey stormy: That's funny!! I also made my own a few years ago - it cost me about $35 for 2 subs, with the buns, steak, pepperoni, lettuce, tomatoes, mozzarella, - then I made a home-made oregano-aioli to drizzle over the tomato slices. It was an ok copy, but it the cost and the 2 hour prep, cooking and cleaning didn't make it worth my while to eat a 5 minute sub. I'll try out embees suggestions below and report back.

    2. There used to be a place at yonge and davenport years ago Chubby Sub the served Mike style Sub but is's gone
      still looking for one

      1 Reply
      1. re: storeman

        Storeman, try the suggestions below and let me know. I also found a sub place in Pickering called Emily's and they were owned by Mikes. They served genuine Mike's subs - however, I was their only patron and they also closed. What a location they chose - Kington Road in Pickering - I think maybe chains that come here from Montreal purposely choose the wrong locations in Ontario. If they opened 15 Mike's locations in Toronto, every 2-for-1, 3-for-1, panzerrotto, pizza Nova, and Pizza Pizza would go bankrupt in 2 months.

      2. My memories of Mike's go back to when it was a tiny family operation on Somerled. During my 30+ years in Toronto, I have NEVER tasted a sub/hero type of sandwich that was anywhere near as good.

        I have not eaten a Mike's sub since they became a glitzy franchise outfit that also runs Baton Rouge and Pizza Delight. Perhaps someone else will have a directly comparable suggestion.

        I'd recommend that you try some of the Toronto style Italian sandwiches at places such as San Francesco's (Clinton St), Vinny's Panini (Dupont St), California Sandwiches (Claremont), or Quattro Ragazze (Danforth). For a fancier version, Hollinger's on Coxwell has a very good cheese steak sandwich.

        16 Replies
        1. re: embee

          Embee, I used to be a regular at California Sandwich at Sheppard and Kodiak in North York - the best spicy chicken parm sandwich I ever had !!!! Actually, that was the first (and only) dish that I found in Toronto that I would crave if I moved back to Montreal. I didn't see any pepperoni/steak subs there, however, I do agree that their sandwiches are awesome. I'm going to try other places that you recommended and let you know. Thanks for the tips.

          By the way :yes you hit on a good point: a really good, authentic Philly Cheesesteak does take away the Mike's craving for me, so if anyone out there has a KILLER Philly recommendation, let me know. (The Philly cheese is very easy to screw up, so it's tough to find).

          I had a Philly Cheesesteak on the Boardwalk in Atlantic city a few years back at a place called Danny's - man it was heaven in a hoagie !!!!! Unbelievable.

          1. re: montrealer70

            An "authentic" Philly cheesesteak has long eluded me in Toronto. Somehow, the simple combination of ingredients never seems to come together as it should. This also seems to me the one valid use of Cheez Whiz.

            You should have no problem finding sandwiches in a similar style here. Though their authenticity may be in doubt, the quality could be higher than at the famous Geno's and Pat's on E. Passyunk . Try Vinny's for a steak sub. (I don't know whether they have peperoni, but it's not a chain, so you should be able to customize.). Hollinger's will serve you a char grilled strip steak, which is hardly a Philly cheesesteak, but it's a very satisfying sandwich for a reasonable price.

            1. re: embee

              There surely must be a viable business opportunity here for a destination cheese steak spot in Toronto, if only for my pre-committed business.

              My grandfather built and ran two diners in NJ and it's one of the things I cravenly miss from home. [I moved from NYC to Toronto in '99.]

              1. re: embee

                I passed by Francesco's yesterday and remembered that I was there two years ago when I literally slammed on my brakes to buy a sandwich there based on the signage. I found it to be a filthy knock-off of California Sanwiches (mostly because California Sandwich is so antiseptically clean). I remember we had two chicken parms and a container of hot olives to go. Not bad, almost as good as Cal-San but not a substitute for Mikes.

                We then went to Hollingers to try their Philly Cheesesteaks. Party of four, the place was empty, we thought it was closed. No-one there except a relative of the owner with a buddy watching t.v. and running and yelling up and down the stairs to use the johnny. The owner brought us to a table, and we weren't in the mood for drinks, but we all felt obliged to give this nice guy some business and all ordered some lagers. We ordered a greek salad, 2 Phillys, a side of fries, and a tossed salad. The bill was $90 with tax and tip. I see why no-one was in there, especially given the area that it's in. The decor, concept and prices don't fit in there - this place should be on Dundas and Bay. To describe the area, we encountered two pan-handlers in front of the resto and a couple in undershirts bbq'ing off the balcony-roof of their building across the street. The Philly was outstanding. Real steak, well seasoned, with fried peppers, onions, mushrooms and melted cheese - right up my alley!!!!! Unfortunately, it was a 6" panini - not a hoagie. The fries were outstanding fresh-cut steak fries, and were a $3 add-on to the $12.00 6-inch Philly panini. We really enjoyed the Philly a lot, however, we wouldn't run back for a $90 Philly too soon. Taste-wise on the Philly, for what I'm looking for, it can't be beat (it may have even been too gourmet for what I'm looking for). This doesn't seem like the place that one would pick-up a bag of 3 Phillys and fries to go - and even still, even though it's a 10/10 on taste, it's not worth $17 for a 6 inch and fries - mainly because I would still be hungry.

                I'm still looking for a $10-15 Philly-cheese hoagie (footlong) with all the trimmings. I'll write back if I find anything.

                In AC, I got a footlong with at least 10 oz. of sliced steak, loaded with onions and peppers and cheese, all for around 8 bucks (only in America). I know T.O. knows how to charge, so I'm willing to pay double, around $15 for something similar. Cheers.

                1. re: montrealer70

                  Hollinger's has been there for decades and slid from being a popular neighbourhood place to a divey sports bar that the former owner of the coffee shop next door once told us to avoid.

                  The new owners did a Restaurant Makeover and have been trying to turn the place around and attract a neighbourhood dinner crowd. I don't think they are doing too well, and I hope they succeed. That neighbourhood needs a place like this.

                  Your assessment of the sandwich is apt. It is definitely not a place for cheap takeout. That sandwich is a bargain for the price, since you are getting a real steak with all the "Philly" trimmings and the quality is high. But, as I noted, it is definitely not an "authentic Philly cheese steak". It is, indeed, too "gourmet".

                  You're wrong about the neighbourhood, though, and that's a big part of their problem. It's a great area that is starting to sprout monster homes. There are three good places along that stretch of Coxwell - Hollinger's, Sweet Indulgences, and Karma Kafe (previously Earth Grounds). However, only Hollinger's is open at night, there is very little pedestrian traffic, and some of the people who live above the shops are not the kind of people you'd likely want for your neighbours. It isn't sketchy and there's no reason to avoid the area.

                  I'm jealous of your capacity. When I was about 22, I'd get a steak sub from (the original) Mike's and follow it up with a smoked meat, fries, and Karnatzel at Schwartz. Now that Hollinger's sandwich and half the fries leaves me stuffed and I weigh 55 pounds more. Sigh.

                  1. re: embee

                    Ok, how's this Embee: If the place was half-full, we would have enjoyed the experience much more. Way more. There's something about being alone in a restaurant that's a turn-off - plus, we weren't expecting an "upscale bar" experience. The restaurant does have a purpose (classy bar with Gourmet bar food) - and when I'm in the mood for it, I will be back. We just both agree that it's not a take-out hoagie place. I am glad that I tried it and the owner does deserve to be successful.

                    As for my appetite, as a middle-ager, their portion is what I SHOULD be eating, so power to them.

                    One last time: Their Gourmet Philly was the best I ever had - including two versions that I had in New Jersey. And as for the quality and care, it definitely is worth the $11.99 as well.

                    1. re: montrealer70

                      I absolutely agree with your assessment. Those aren't really hoagies/grinders/subs and, while they do takeout, it isn't really a takeout place. It's empty much of the time, which is depressing, and it shouldn't be. I just didn't want people to think it was in a sketchy area.

                      1. re: embee

                        Embee, I found a worthy Philly Cheese Steak last night. We went out for a relative's birthday to Dave & Buster's on Highway 7 just East of the 400. I ordered the Philly Cheesesteak and fries - PHENOMENAL !!!! As they describe in the menu: "paper-thin sliced steak, imported from Philadelphia" - so the meat is the real deal, and it tastes like it. It was the same tasting and enormously piled fully tender chopped sliced steak as the Philly I had in New Jersey. The Hoagie was at least 10 inches, was LOADED with seasoned steak, had plenty of fried onions, mushrooms and green pepper, and the whole thing slathered with melted cheese (don't quote me, but to my palate, a perfect blend of tasty mozzarella with a hint of not-too overpowering cheddar). They actually use the word "hoagie" in their description on the menu. Aside from the gourmet Philly at Hollingers, it tied for the best Philly I ever had in my life, alongside the one I had in Atlantic City. D&B is a gaming place and bar on top of being a restaurant, however, they are more than happy to have you pick it up as take-out for $11.99 including fries, or on the menu, an option is to get a $10 game card included with the Philly for $16.99. For take out Philly, in my opinion, this Philly Cannot be beat. I already want to go back for another one !!!

                        1. re: montrealer70

                          i need a little background information on your philly cheesesteak experiences..... have you had a cheesesteak in philadelphia? where did you have one there?

                          after sampling probably about 7 different establishments and then a couple lunch truck versions thrown in on top for lack of lunch.... my fave is jim's. it's supposed to be a hell of a tourist trip but the paper thin slices of tender meat make it feel just right.

                          don't get me wrong... but dave and busters is just a hell of a way to go for a cheesesteak for me.

                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                            I had Philly Cheesesteaks in New Jersey and Atlantic city - cities not too far from Philadelphia. I've never been to Philadelphia, however, I'm not so concerned about how close the Phillys here are to the Phillys in Philadelpia - i.e.) The authentic experience. All I want is a humongous sub bun filled to the brim with tender, deliciously seasoned steak, fried onions and peppers (and if possible mushrooms), and a splashing of cheese just to ensure the elevation of cholestoral upon completing the hoagie. Other than Mike's subs (not really a Philly), I haven't had a Philly as good in Montreal as the one I had at Dave and Busters. I totally agree with you - the place is really out of the way for me too, and I will definitely write in if I find a more central location. I just wanted to inform Torontonians that they make a killer Philly !!!!!

                            I haven't tried Jim's - can you please let us know where it is and a little detail about the hoagie? Thanks for weighing in princess.

                            1. re: montrealer70

                              jim's is in philadelphia downtown...... so unless you really want me to get into it i'm going to assume my post just didn't clarify that it was a non-TO locale/hunt.

                              there's a really grand debate about what an "authentic" cheesesteak would even be on the philly boards that i hesitate to start here potentially. but as far as i can tell... your addition of peppers and mushroom is... well.. blasphemous. i certainly enjoy mushrooms... but there is something about the four ingredient sandwich that is perfection on its own.

                              and embee... if your friends are among the ones that love steve's prince of steaks... heaven help them for loving the thick cut chewy meat. i just won't ever get it.

                              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                Pinstripe, you made me laugh - you say adding peppers to a Philly is blasphemous like I say that machine slicing Smoked Meat is a sin !!! This web-site is outrageous. ok, how about this: Let's take out the word "Philly" from the topic. I just want a delicious tasting "steak hoagie", with fried vegetables and cheese. I started off by saying "I miss my Mike's subs" (grilled steak and pepperoni on a toasted sub roll with lettuce, tomato and cheese). They don't serve that here, so I'll settle for what non-philadelphians mistakenly call a Philly Cheesesteak (steak sub with fried onions and cheese). I'm not debating any authenticity whatsover, I'm not from Philadelphia and I don't really care about duplicating their exact recipe. You should start a new topic, something like "looking for authentic Philly cheesesteaks in Toronto". On that note, if anyone knows of a Toronto place that serves a good tasting, hearty steak sub, please write in.

                          2. re: montrealer70

                            I can't see myself going to a gaming place/bar in Woodbridge for a cheese steak, but I'll keep the info in mind if I'm ever around there.

                            I really don't understand why anyone would import meat from Philadelphia. It hasn't been easy to bring beef into Canada since the mad cow nonsense.

                            The thinly sliced ribeye available at any decent Chinese or, especially, Korean, supermarket would likely be fine for making one's own. I suspect it's just marketing, but I haven't a clue.

                            I've had the cheesesteaks at both Pat's and Geno's. Both tasted good. However, friends in Philly tell me that neither of these famous places makes anywhere near the best in town.

                            1. re: embee

                              Embee, again, you people make me laugh. To some extent, I agree with the marketing ploy telling customers that they import the meat from South Philly. Frankly, I don't care if they do or don't. I tried steak subs all over town and had "bad tasting" or "non-tender meat" or "almost no steak" or "poor quality meat" complaints about the subs. I enjoyed the steak sub at D&B, with no negatives to speak of and I'm just letting people know. I'm the one with the recommendation and I completely agree that it's absurd to have to go to an arcade in the boonies to enjoy a sub, but we are in Toronto, culinarily, a completely bizarre mishmash of dining choices. I'm really trying my best to pull out all of the good dining experiences that I could find here. To be honest, until I recently discovered chowhound, I pretty much gave up completely on food in Toronto. All of you posters have revived my fire to find personal favourites in Toronto that could help me live in this city.

                          3. re: embee

                            I found the menu on the internet at you could see a picture of the Philly Hoagie on the menu if you click on "eat" and click on "menu" and click below on the "main menu" in pdf. Believe it or not, the one I was served looked even better than the picture in the menu. I was blown away.

                            1. re: montrealer70

                              Montrealer, I'm with you. I don't believe there's a set standard to what constitutes a cheese steak, and I think as time goes on there is a greater variety as to toppings that are available. Ok, there's tradition, but I agree with you that because there's an additional topping or two it no longer constitutes a cheese steak. That's just silly... Take a look at Tony Luke's site and see the steak sandwiches he offers, variety abounds!

                              Anyway, this was a temporary menu item this past August at Buster Rhino's in Whitby. They had a brisket cheese steak with peppers, onions and provelone that was awesome. It was complimented with their oh so crispy fries. I have bugged Darryl (the owner) to put it on the menu permanently but he's testing out other specials first....


                              I had a huge but terrible, salty, greasy cheese steak in Buffalo a while back. It cost close to $11 which was a kick in the pants. Jim's Steakout, never again...


              2. Some people swear by Belly Busters on Yonge near Lawarence. It could be up you alley?

                3 Replies
                1. re: food face

                  I was going to suggest that before this turned into an "I ate a cheesesteak in Philly 75 years ago with Rocky Balboa and you're all wrong" debate. Then I saw your post.

                  Belly Buster's aint what it used to be, possibly because I aint what I used to be, but I almost always have one when I'm in the area.

                  Try the turkey bacon sub, or even the signature Belly Buster.

                  The best sub I ever ate was here:

                  1. re: Everythingtarian

                    Yea, I only went to Belly Busters once years ago after my friend droned on and on about it. I just thought it was a notch above Mr. Sub. I think it's the vintage sign and the nostalgia factor more than the food what people like?

                    1. re: food face

                      I think you're absolutely right. There is nothing remarkable about a BB sub, except it's reliability.

                2. The original comment has been removed