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Nov 10, 2008 09:52 AM

Is there anything like Pret a Manger in TO?

I've been living in the UK for the past few years and really enjoyed pret. The food isn't earth shattering but, it was good and reliable. I love the idea of grab and go and using as local as possible, pret seem to be doing it right. Is there anything in TO like that?

Thanks guys

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  1. Not familiar with Pret, as when I lived in the UK, grab and go usually meant fish and chips.

    Wanda's in the Kithen with Dinah on Mount Pleasant at Sheldrake does excellent prepared foods that you can reheat.

    Grilltime on Laird will either fully grill your food for you, or partially grill it so you can finish it at home, or simply sell you excellent meat and seafood at very good prices that you can cook yourself.

    Gilead Cafe sells different pre-marinated meats that you can cook yourself, as well as salads and desserts, and truly amazing breads.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Snarf

      I would second the suggestion of Gilead.

      Another similar company is Petit Fours. It is not a chain, like Pret in London. Nor are their prices as low (I remember surviving on Pret between lavish Indian dinners when I was there - that and Marks & Spencer). However, their sandwiches are not bad and they are conveniently packed 'to go'. Their fare is a bit higher-end when compared to Pret. I would liken Pret more to a 'grocery store'/'convenience store' experience, whereas PF is more of a 'grab and go bakery'. Just another option to check out if you are in the area. It is certainly not a destination place:

      Pret Photos:
      Marks & Spencer:

      I have heard good things about Sandwich Box, but have not tried it yet:
      Another one I have wandered into, but not tried is a sandwich place on Bay near Eaton Centre - Fast Fresh Foods: This would be the closest I have found to the Pret Format. However, when in Toronto, I would rather spend $7 on ethnic food. In London, penny-pinching was more important for me.


    2. I don't think there's anything really like Pret in Toronto. A few years ago, a place called Urban Appetite opened in Metro Hall - it was modeled after Pret (in fact, one of the owners had worked at Pret). The closest thing might be a place like Le Gourmand (few locations - Spadina and Adelaide, Yonge and Bloor and opening soon near Yonge and Eglinton) or some of the coffee shops around the city, selling coffee, pastries, maybe a granola yoghurt parfait and pre-wrapped sandwiches. I do think a place like Pret, if it could maintain the quality and get the locations right, would do quite well here. It's done pretty well in New York, I think (and there are certainly lots of other places like Pret in New York as well).

      2 Replies
      1. re: peppermint pate

        Urban is a copy of Pret A Manger, at least similar to the ones I frequented in Hong Kong. They have prepared sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads just like PAM. Their coffee is OK, but their espresso drinks are pretty bad. I'd only suggest their sandwiches. I like the portobello and goat's cheese on bagette.

        1. re: foxymoron

          Thanks for your reply and mini review...will definitely hit it up

      2. excel, I am familiar with the Pret concept and bought a few things from a Pret shop in Manhattan a couple of years ago. As far as I know, there's nothing quite like Pret a Manger in Toronto, where you can run in, pick up a freshly made, already wrapped/packaged sandwich or salad (using flavourful, all-natural, preservative-free ingredients, to boot) and be on your way in no time.

        For those of you who've never heard of Pret a Manger, here's a link to their website in the U.S.:

        1. Thanks for your replies guys. Snarf, I guess pret is more of a London thing not a UK thing. Although I'm pretty sure leeds and Manchester both had a Pret and EAT. EAT is just like a pret but a bit more modern, in terms of atmosphere.

          I'm really surprised that there isn't anything like pret in TO. It seems like a concept that would be perfect for this city, everyone here is on the go and seem to value a health meal. Any reasons why you guys think the prior attempt didn't work or why the concept wouldn't work here?

          I'm actually surprised there isn't more pret in the US either, I guess somethings just don't translate when you cross the "pond", although I can't imagine why?

          I'm going to take a peek at the suggestion posted here and see how they compare.

          1 Reply
          1. re: excel

            Having seen the link, there are a few places that seem to be trying to fill the space. MB co has a more limited menu and less of an emphasis on the yogurt granola offerings. They've been reviewed on these boards, generally with the perception that their price points don't work here. From the catering end of it, I would put Hannah's Kitchen (Yonge south of Eglinton) way ahead.

            Wanda's Pie in the Sky on Augusta focusses on desserts, but also had some interesting meals on display the last time I was in.

          2. There's nothing like Pret in Toronto sadly... the sheer quantity of healthy 'grab and go' outlets seems to be unique to London. Which Toronto has Sandwich Box (and the many a-likes that are springing up), it's frustrating to have to wait so long to eat...

            I think it would do well here and if it's made it's way to New York, it stands a better chance of coming here eventually..

            6 Replies
            1. re: JamesJT

              Thanks for your reply!

              Snarf, thanks for the info and continue recommendations....

              It's sad that there's nothing like pret here. BOOOOO. Ya, I've heard of sandwich box and places like that. The offer great stuff but the wait can be really long. I don't know about you guys but I just rather spend my lunch doing something I want instead of waiting in line. Not to mention, a pret would be great for those times I'm running around the city and need a quick lunch on the go.

              I just wonder why the shop, urban appetite, couldn't make the idea work - I know I would visit. Maybe it wasn't the best location or perhaps Canada just like having their sandwiches made in front of them?

              1. re: excel

                I'm not entirely sure that Urban Appetite didn't work - does anyone know for sure if it's closed or maybe it's still around? I can't say I've ever seen them mentioned on this board or heard anyone else talk about them. If they didn't succeed, I would presume it had to do with location or maybe lack of marketing. The couple of times I went there, the service was decent and it definitely had the Pret vibe.

                1. re: peppermint pate

                  I was going to mention Urban Appetite as well as that's the only place I know that is very similiar to Pret.

                  I just talked to my husband who works close to Metro Hall and he confirmed that it is still open. I tried a sandwich from there about 4 years ago so I don't recall how good their sandwiches are.

                  1. re: sasgirl

                    Just had lunch at Urban Appetite by Metro Hall. Not impressed. All the sandwiches were refridgerated, only adding to the boring flavour of my processed turkey and brie sandwich. The soup seemed to be partially from a frozen source with some poorly cut up vegetables in it. Service was blase, at best. Sorry, pret looks amazing.

                    1. re: Mila

                      Mila, the sandwiches at Pret are pre-made, wrapped, and refrigerated, too. But they are made daily (if not a few times a day), using fresh, premium, local ingredients and the available choices are innovative, flavourful, and anything but boring.

                      1. re: Tatai

                        Fingers crossed they do open here. When I lived in London there were some amazing sandwich (bap) shops that seem to be of a similar concept. I just wonder why anyone would put a nice fresh bagette and ripe brie in the fridge. I'd take a pass on Urban Appetite.
                        Thanks for the info.