What: You can find this sandwich at only one place these past 80-plus years, a lunch counter legendary enough to warrant a visit on its own. But you gotta try the “Special” at least once in a visit (or twice, if you’re us). Slices of all-beef salami and bologna are pressed flat with (optional but recommended) cheese and mustard on a subtly sweet egg roll, with a meaty, toasty result not unlike a Cuban sandwich—but darker, saltier, and bolder in its simplicity. Served warm, it’s a compact sandwich that packs a big, satisfying punch.
Where: Family-owned since its 1932 opening, Wilensky’s Light Lunch (34, ave. Fairmount Ouest, map) is a quiet, old-fashioned, tin-roofed Mile End landmark celebrated for its soda-fountain drinks and simple sandwiches—with this one being the most iconic. Like some other longstanding businesses we’ve come to know and love (original-hamburger purveyor Louis Lunch in New Haven comes to mind), Wilensky’s isn’t known to be especially accommodating to special requests. Don’t expect liveliness or a whole lot of friendliness, really—it’s all about efficiency and the rules of tradition here: no tipping, no sandwiches cut in two, and no condiments other than mustard on the Wilensky Special.
When: Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm; Sat, 10am-4pm
Order: A Wilensky Special ($3.90 no cheese; $4.34 with Swiss or cheddar), with cheese—ingredients are so minimal here that a little melty cheese goes a long way. Note that while the sandwich is offered only with a swipe of mustard, you are free to add on extra mustard (or cut it in half, for that matter) once it’s in your possession—we found this took things up a notch. Also order a pickle (sour or half-sour) on the side and a soda frappé, which we know in New York City as an egg cream, to wash it all down. Perfection on a lunch counter.