Growing up, one of the most boring things you could find in your lunch bag was a plain bologna sandwich. There was this single slice of mystery meat between two slices of plain old store brand white bread. The good news is that you no longer have to suffer such an unfortunate fate, especially if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Richmond.

The sandwich doesn’t have to be boring. The traditional definition calls for two pieces of bread, usually with meat, cheese or some other filling in between… but you can get awfully creative with that bread, that meat, and that “some other filling” too, especially when you throw in some international inspiration for good measure.

Banh Mi Tres Bon

Banh Mi Tres Bon, Image credit: Michael KwanImage credit: Michael Kwan

Located in the new SmartCentres Richmond North shopping complex where you’ll also find Walmart and DSW Designer Show Warehouse, Banh Mi Tres Bon (1840-4720 Mcclelland Road) really does live up to its name. You’ll find Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches that are indeed “tres bon.” For diners who just can’t decide, the Banh Mi Trio ($10) is the perfect choice.

Instead of the single Vietnamese sandwich on a French baguette, you get three mini sandwiches using the same kind of bread in a smaller form. From left to right are the house special, meatball and lemongrass chicken. The house special includes a special take on Vietnamese ham and all three sandwiches are dressed with cilantro, jalapeno, pickled carrots, and pickled daikon.

Grab one of the cute character macarons for dessert too!

Smokehouse Sandwich Company

Smokehouse Sandwich CoImage credit: Charles Koh

If you’re looking for a sandwich with premium quality smoked meats and the freshest of ingredients, an excellent choice is Smokehouse Sandwich Company (108-5188 Westminster Highway). They develop their own spice rubs and sauces to concoct some of the best sandwiches in town.

The Samson ($9.99) is worth singling out here for its truly unique mix of flavours. The beef brisket isn’t only coffee-crusted, but it’s also strawberry-glazed for a wonderfully smoky mixture of sweet and tart with a touch of bitterness. The tender meat contrasts with the crispy lettuce for a very satisfying bite. The Sarah (also $9.99) juxtaposes tender pulled tamarind chicken with a sweet and sour Asian slaw and sesame ginger oil. You can’t go wrong.

Lido Restaurant

Lido RestaurantImage credit: Michael Kwan

Tucked away in a strip mall between Aberdeen Centre and Parker Place, Lido Restaurant (150-4231 Hazelbridge Way) has achieved legendary status in Richmond for having the best pineapple buns in town. In particular, people come here for a warm pineapple bun with a thick slab of cold butter shoved in the side.

But did you know this delectable treat is also available in sandwich form? The Satay Beef in a Pineapple Bun ($5.50) may not be the most photogenic sandwich on this list, but it may be among the most satisfying. The sweet crispy top of the pineapple bun mixes in with the savory, tender beef for a delightfully messy indulgence. Better yet, that price includes a hot drink, too.

If you’re not prepared to brave the crowds at Lido, you’ll find variations on this same pineapple bun sandwich at the classic Happy Date and the recently opened AAA Restaurant too.

Bob’s Submarine Sandwiches

Image credit: Lindsay Anderson

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s quite possible that, aside from pricing adjustments due to inflation, not a lot has changed over the years at Bob’s Submarine Sandwiches (6390 Number 3 Road) and the regulars certainly wouldn’t want it any differently.

You’ll find a broad array of traditional classics here, from your regular B.L.T. and corned beef to hot subs with steak and pepperoni. For those with more voracious appetites, the Super Sub ($5.90 for 6-inch, $11.80 for footlong) cannot be beat. Even the list of ingredients is a mouthful! You get double steak, double mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, salami, capicollo, fried onions, lettuce, tomatoes and Italian dressing.

It’s messy and you’ll need both hands (and plenty of napkins), but this will be one of the most humbling and satisfying meals you’ll have in some time.

Osum! Kitchen + Lab

Osum! Kitchen and Lab's Nutella Baoger.Image credit: Dee de los Santos

Also in Steveston is Osum! Kitchen + Lab (125 -3531 Bayview Street), a restaurant that borrows some multicultural Asian inspiration and dresses it up with some modern flair. A terrific example of this is the selection of the eatery’s signature “baogers.”

The “baogers” are a contemporary take on the Chinese gua bao (steam bun). You can grab one of the savoury options — sweet and sour pork with garlic and ginger, Korean-style barbecue chicken with a Cheetos surprise, or spicy pineapple beef with pickled greens — or you can satisfy that sweet tooth craving with the Osum! Nutella Baoger ($7.50, shown above).

In addition to the chocolate hazelnut spread, this indulgence also includes almond slices, crispy coconut shavings and colourful mini marshmallows. How’s that for textural contrast?

Whether you’re looking for a traditional barbecue meat sandwich, a fresh take on a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich, or a sweet dessert that’ll make you feel like a kid again, there are innumerable awesome sandwiches to explore in Richmond.