There’s a new sandwich shop in town… and this one’s got an impressive track record!
The (original) North York location has been around since 1974 (virtually unchanged) – that’s 40 freakin’ years of sandwich-making – and they’ve got an incredibly loyal fan base.
I spent some time with one of the owners, Page Magen, while I ate my sandwich and he told me the story of how they finally got Belly Buster in downtown Toronto. It’s pretty simple, really. Page and his brother Jian have been big fans of the North York location since they could remember. I guess it was like the “cool hangout” over there and it was their spot. After gaining so much success when they got Buster’s to cater for their events (they run an event company as well), along with their partner, Michael Kimel, they approached owner, Christopher Passilidis, with the idea of franchising it and BAM! Here we are.
It’s almost like an ode to their childhood, I guess. Back to the simpler days and I like it!
The decor has a vintage feel, but… clean and new. You know what I mean? It gets pretty busy in there and there’s an assortment of people that come in. Teens, suits, King St. strollers, etc.
If I had to describe this place in one word, I would use simple. You come here for a delicious, fresh sub and that’s it – no glitz and flashing lights. It’s not an artisan sandwich shop, you won’t find fancy avocado aioli or braised pork belly. It’s fresh bread, meat (oh, that bacon) and veggies on your sub.
The ingredients and toppings are the typical – all fresh. They don’t carry anything over to the next day (and what a difference that makes).
Our 2 subs – both actually a foot long.
Turkey Bacon on whole wheat ($7.65)
Of course I opened it up to show you guys. The best part of my sandwich was the bacon - perfectly cooked (crispy but not too hard) and thick!
Me chowing down. I ate one half at the shop and ate the other half later that day… just as delicious!
It looks like there’s a lot of bread, but the bread is SO GOOD!! Fresh bread is a weakness of mine, so I’m biased. But I did wish there was a little more turkey in mine… I felt like the bacon was too overpowering (in a good way) and it was like a bacon sandwich with a slice of turkey. I did like their sub sauce – it went very well with the crunch of the veggies.
Belly Buster on white ($7.85)
The inside of it… this one is for the meat lovers. There definitely isn’t a shortage of meat in this one. Even though they ran out of salami, they added some other meats in there to make up for it. This sub comes up to under $10 and I think it’s a steal!
Belly Buster’s really plays up the nostalgia. It’s old-fashioned with a downtown twist, the subs taste fresh and the bacon is godly. I can’t help but think that folks who’ve been to the original North York location would like it just a little bit more than a first-timer like me. It is just a sub, afterall, but a pretty good one. Is it the best sub I’ve ever had? No. But is it the freshest sub you can get for that price? Probably. I would like to try different types though… the cheese steak sub or the roast beef + salami, perhaps.
This place is ideal for lunch and a quick bite if you’ve got to catch a show nearby. I already know it’s going to be one of my stops during TIFF – where eating on the go is the norm.
Have you tried Belly Buster’s before? If you’ve been to the original location, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Is it better/the same? Did they capture the same type of feel?
Disclosure: The sandwiches were complimentary courtesy of Belly Buster’s. As always, that doesn’t change what I really think about them!