Recently, I got into a slightly heated tet-a-tet with a friend over the merits of buttering your toastie before you put it in the sandwich press/oven/frypan/grill. She looked at me like I was a fool, while I looked at her knowing she was something of a lesser breed. I mean, butter = crunch, right? Sandwich 101.
But I digress. Regardless of how you like to make your toasties (obviously slathered in butter and fried or pressed juuuust enough to retain maximum bread height retention and minimum cheese spillage), Sydney’s obsession with crunchy, gooey, piping hot toasted sandwiches isn’t going away any time soon. Thank god.
And because I’m never one to deprive anyone of their right to life, liberty, and molten cheese, here are ten of the best damn toasties in Sydney. Plus, a recipe if you want to try your hand at home (hint: use butter).
Mouths at the ready.
A thousand times yes to this epic Darlo cafe (that is now open nights - score). They keep it simple, effective, and so tasty you’ll burn the bajeezus out of your tongue because you’re an impatient little squirrel (kudos). The toasties at The Royal come in three flavours so everyone can enjoy a crunchy morsel. What will you choose? The classic ham, swiss, and tomato, a nostalgic cheesy Vegemite, or a comparatively healthy spinach and swiss number? As I have just demonstrated, there’s really no wrong choice, so get your toned little behind down there ASAP and let the melty cheese swooning begin.
You say toastie, they say jaffle. I say who seriously cares when there’s steamy cheese involved? That’s what I thought. The jaffley goodness is on a weekly rotation at Annandale café, The Drop, so you never know what you’re going to get, but isn’t that one of life’s greatest joys? Waking up to one big, crunchy, cheese-filled surprise? When we went in, the little pocket of joy was packed with homemade baked beans and a generous helping of luscious swiss cheese. Be patient, oh hungry one, because this is one steamy meal, and you wouldn’t want to pull a Snoop Dogg (or Lion) and drop it like it’s hot. *smirk emoji*
What’s better than a crispy, melty ham and cheese toastie? One that has a smidge of bechamel sauce, a lick of mustard, and a happy little fried egg sitting on top. That’s right, we’ve got ourselves a croque madame up in Castle Hill. If you’re lucky enough to live in walking distance of this ‘burbs bad boy, I expect you to be hitting it up every single damn day. Hell, you might as well ask them to plug the fromagey goodness into your veins. If you’re heading there on cheat day, why not get balls deep in their cereal milkshake and have yourself a real party?
Nelson Road Tuck Shop
You know how shitty pizza places hook you in with promises of steamy, stretchy cheese on TV commercials? And then you actually get it and it’s a bigger disaster than the Census? Well, the Insta-worthy toastie at Bondi Junction cafe Nelson Road Tuck Shop will make up for every cheese heartbreak you’ve ever had when you pull it apart. What’s the secret? Four cheeses, pickled fennel and truffle oil in between freshly baked bread. It’s straight from their hearts to your stomach. If you need something a little more on the meat egg side, the smoked ham, BBQ bacon chutney (!!!), egg, hollandaise and cheese sandwich on sourdough is just the ticket.
Single Origin Roasters
Come gather ‘round, children of the cheese, because the days of dry raisin toast and watery coffee as your only options for a decent CBD breakfast are gone like the wind. This particular Single Origin Roasters call their toasted sambos the N.L.T., the next level toasties, and you better believe no one slaps a label like that on something that doesn’t deserve it. You’ve got three options, and I won’t spoil all the fun, but there’s something for everyone (unless you’re a vegan, then you’re fresh out of cheesy luck. soz). For something hearty, the chicken, kale, provolone and spiced mayo is like a warm hug in the tasty from of sandwich.
Barista And Cook
You couldn’t escape the grilled mac and cheese toastie at Waterloo’s Barista and Cook if you wanted to. But you wouldn’t want to anyway, so just cut to the chase and get one inside you, stat. I feel like I don’t really need to explain what’s in it, because the title says it all. But I will confirm that the mac is perfectly bouncy, the cheese is creamy, and the future is here because there can’t be a better food hybrid than this. Next question.
Another one of those legendary Sydney cafes that are enabling us to feed our calcium needs and our jaffle obsession at the same time, win. There are nine, yep, nine meaty jaffles to choose between if that’s your ham, or four vegetarian options if you’re more of a roughage kind of person. You kind of have to see the combinations to believe them, but I’ll tease you with a suggestion of a Big Mouth’s piping hot bolognese jaffle next to a sweet potato, caramelised onion and feta creation. Run, don’t walk!
Who’s the lucky little pickle that gets to live near this Surry Hills sandwich haven? Whoever it is, I hope they make great use of it. Now, Lucky Pickle know their shit when it comes to awesome sandwich making, so there’s really no wrong choice. But when it comes to melty goodness, the vego option of roast pumpkin, caramelised onion, gruyere, ricotta, walnut and dijon is pretty much the king of kings. Especially when it’s a little chilly outside.
Anywhere I can indulge in awesome wine and enjoy a toastie to soak it up is absolutely fine by me. So naturally Darlinghurst wine bar Bar Brose, from the guys behind ACME, is pretty much the dream. Aptly named the late night sandwich (because who doesn’t want something crunchy, cheesy, and carby after a wine sesh?), the filling is on rotation, meaning you’ll make a new bready best friend every time you pop in.
I know, I know, we’re a little obsessed with this place. But it’s for good reason. And I’ve saved one of the best for last, because it’s always good to end on a bit of pork fat, yeah? The toastie at CBD restaurant Mercado is filled with smoked wagyu tongue and pickled green tomato. Don’t knock it ‘till you try it, because it will have your socks off immediately. It also comes with the crusts lovingly cut off, for the perfect mingling of nostalgia and gastronomy.
Tried ‘em all and want to make your own? You little Heston, you. Here’s a suggestion from that time Bulla and Guillaume Brahimi joined forces and it was awesome.
Guillaume Brahimi’s smoked salmon, horseradish creme fraiche and watercress toastie
2 large slices of sourdough bread
4 slices of smoked salmon
2 tablespoons of Bulla Creme Fraiche
1 teaspoon of horseradish cream
4 slices of telegraph cucumber
1 thinly sliced red onion
1 teaspoon of capers
1. Mix together Bulla Crème Fraîche and horseradish cream
2. Place the sourdough in the toaster and toast until golden brown. Remove from
toaster and smear crème fraiche on both sides of the bread
3. Lay on salmon, cucumber, red onion and sprinkle over capers on one side of
4. Place the other piece on of sourdough on top, slice in half and serve
Looking for more places to hit for breakfast in Sydney? Head here!
Image credit: Federica Portentoso at Nelson Road Tuckshop