We have been in our new office building for just over two weeks now and Mario's Coffee Express is fast becoming a favorite, quick lunch spot with my coworkers. Tucked into a building on Howe and Dunsmuir St, it would be easy to miss except for the signs outside claiming "the best coffee in town". Every time I see this type of sign I want to run into the restaurant and re-enact the scene from Elf. Awesome. I have yet to do that, but I did stop in for a "famous grilled sandwich" (no video clip available)
Mario's is tiny on the inside. A coffee bar dominates the right side of the restaurant and two top bar-style seating for about 8 runs along the other side. They have pastries available and a selection of pre-made sandwiches in the display case. Everything looked really fresh and homemade.
The in person visit was actually my second sandwich from Mario's. On moving day for my office some coworkers picked up a bunch of grilled sandwiches for every one's lunch. I had eaten lunch but I am not one to pass up a sandwich so I took it home. I don't know the exact name of the sandwich but it seemed to have ham, salami and grilled peppers in it. I was quite surprised at how good the sandwich was, especially since it had been in my bike bag for a while and then reheated. I had quite high hopes for a fresh made sandwich.
On my visit I decided to get the chicken breast panini as it also had olive tapenade, spinach and grilled peppers.
The fresh sandwich lived up to my expectations. The bread was really fresh and had an excellent crispy crust on in, grilled perfectly. The chicken was moist and all the ingredients were really fresh and a great combination. I found the little side of pickles, pickled peppers and a pickled plum a nice kick. I wouldn't say no to more pickles on the plate. I am not sure where these sandwiches are famous, but it was a damn good sandwich.
Even though Mario's is in the heart of downtown, it has a real neighbourhood feel to it. Mario, a boisterous fella, greeted most of the people who came in by name. You can tell that people are very loyal to him, and his coffee. Maybe it is the best in town...