The Arrival – Mira Mira Sandwich + Ice Cream Bar
In the wrong hands, two slices of bread can quickly lead to sadwiches - limp, soggy, uninspiring meals that never satisfy.
Lucky for us, Mira Mira Sandwich + Ice Cream Bar, proves that in the right hands, sandwiches can indeed be magical.
Chef Amira Becarevic’s latest venture isn’t her first rodeo. Mira Mira Catering has been up and running for three years, while Mira Mira landed at Assembly Chef’s Hall two years ago - with long lineups ever since.
Prior to running her own show, she put in time at the city’s top restaurants after completing culinary school. You couldn’t ask for better training ground, including high-end hotel kitchens (Four Seasons Toronto, Fairmont Royal York), working every station at fine dining hotspot Splendido “back in the heyday,” and doing everything from scrutinizing numbers for P&L to manning the stoves at The Chase.
After working scrupulously on a business plan, she secured small business financing to do catering out of a commissary kitchen shared amongst a few catering companies, at the corner of Queen and Greenwood. It took off like a shot. Becarevic says, “It came time to have kitchen to ourselves.” She and partner Justin Cheung took over the lease, and decided to open another sandwich outpost, this time with a slight twist.
The east side eats resembles the roster downtown - riffs on healthy comfort classics - but Becarevic calls these “more weekend edition.” Think fun, healthy-ish eats the whole family can’t wait to dig into.
“I wanted to make sure it was approachable,” she says. “I want people to come in and feel like they can eat here 2-3 times a week.”
One item that had to remain: the signature Honey Kimchi Chicken ($9).
Becarevic grew up on “delicious Eastern European food,” thanks to her Mom’s mad culinary skills. Back in former Yugoslavia, chicken is often marinated in a combination of yogurt and/or sour cream and/or scallions. Becarevic put a slight spin on her mother’s Slavic version, honouring the old-world technique while adding some modern ingredients and voila! Say hello to fabulously tender, juicy chicken with sweet (honey), spicy (hot sauce), tangy (kimchi) and oh-so-creamy (garlic aioli) notes, tucked into a soft brioche bun.
It’s no wonder she sells 300-500 of these beauties a week at Assembly Chef’s Hall. It’s one of the most outstanding chicken sandos in the city.
You’ve got options
Of course, there’s much more to be had here:
Jerk Banh Mi ($9.50) conceived by three Mira Mira cooks - one of Jamaican descent, the others Vietnamese. Grilled chunks of jerk chicken (or jerk tofu, if you prefer) get stuffed into a crusty sub bun, alongside pickled carrots, cucumber, and wide slices of mango, delivering a mashup of two iconic, yet vastly different dishes in one tasty handheld parcel.
Another top seller, Ontario Lamb Burger ($10), features a thick, mouth-watering patty set atop piquant red pepper chutney. Draped with an enticing dill yogurt, sunny side egg finished with crispy edges, and stuffed with a handful of fresh arugula before being ensconced in a squishy brioche bun, pierced with a lengthy housemade Slavic-style pickle half on top, it’s a delectable, though messy, meal that requires napkins. Plural. Flanked with a not-too-creamy coleslaw of cabbage ribbons and fresh-from-the-garden parsley, it’s a hearty, yet shockingly not heavy, meal.
But it’s the Kale Sunflower Caesar Salad (Side $6, Large Salad w/ Honey Kimchi Chicken $14.50) that you’ll want to order on repeat. Even if you think you’re done with Caesar salads. Because this one boasts a stunning dressing - Dijon, garlic, tamari (in place of anchovies), nutritional yeast, black pepper, and lemon juice - that’s not too cloying and the perfect balance of creamy and acidic. Then there’s the raw sunflower seeds and toasted chickpeas in place of croutons. Versions like this have come and gone in the city before, but not as flawless as this.
Though the menu’s focused – eight sandos, four salads - it scores major points for truly exciting options:
Take the kale salad, for instance. You can have it a number of ways:
1. You can make any sando carbless, so if you’re keto/paleo/etc., MM has got you. Choose any proteins sans bun, and add your choice of salad (Kale, duh) for $14.
2. Don’t want to give up your chance for fries? Same. Since combos can come with half salad, half fries – CRINKLE CUT! sprinkled with garlic, parsley and paprika - and half salad, you never have to Sophie’s Choice it again. Or get all salad or just fries. You do you. Either way, there’s no. Extra. Charge.
Fab selections continue with gluten-free buns ($2), sandwich specials, insane international snacks (including bestseller Rap Snacks Cardi B Habanero), a slew of fun drinks (Ting! Tahiti Treat! Vams Culture Kombucha! In-house fruit or cucumber flavoured water!),and Kawartha Dairy ice cream and vegan sorbets.
Speaking of vegan, that Caesar Salad that you’re going to want to get your hands on asap, just happens to be vegan. And did you know that you can sub tofu in on any sandwich? Mira Mira might just be the only place in town you can get a Tofu Donair. Since Becarevic tries to make as much in-house as possible (pretty much just the buns are brought in), go ahead and ask for the vegan aioli she’s whipped up.
It doesn’t stop there.
[Spoiler Alert: There’s more, including an Insta-worthy though not too curated space, crisp haddock with lemongrass aioli, the cutest plates and trays, kid’s menu, partnership with Covenant House, joyful vibe, staff paid a living wage, compostable sugar cane packaging, generous portions, lots of natural light, and great tunes.]
But you should discover it for yourself. It’ll be one of the smartest things you do this year.
Mira Mira Sandwich + Ice Cream Bar
1372 Queen St. E.
Take-out or dine in - 8 seats.
Pro tip: Call ahead to place your order for pickup.
For more photos, visit @torontorestaurants.co on Instagram.