Based on popular demand, we’ve compiled our picks for the best sandwiches in the world. Since we couldn’t narrow our picks to 20, we’ve included more than 30 famous sandwiches worth the journey.
The world is a big place. After eating a variety of sandwiches in more than 30 of its countries, we’re ready to rank our favorite sandwiches in the world. And, yes, we’ve eaten a lot of sandwiches!
You may wonder why sandwiches. For starters, they’re super casual meals that we can eat with our hands. They’re also a staple of diets throughout the planet with no country (except perhaps Antarctica) that doesn’t have its own national sandwich.
We’re loud and proud about our love for seemingly simple meals nestled between two slices of bread or a starchy equivalent. That’s why we often order sandwiches when we see them on a menu or at a food stall.
We don’t care if they’re filled with meat, cheese or veggies. Like the majority of the world, we’re sandwich lovers.
Discover our favorite sandwiches in America.
Our Favorite Sandwiches Around The World
Heeding the advice of the late great Warren Zevon, we’ve made a conscious effort to ‘enjoy every sandwich’ as we’ve traveled the world. This approach took on heightened meaning during three years of constant nomadic travel in four different continents.
That three-year journey started in Philadelphia and ended in Lisbon, two of the world’s greatest sandwich cities. In between, we ate as many top sandwiches as possible. How many? Enough to become self-proclaimed sandwich savants.
Sure, we could list every sandwich around the world next to a generic stock photo for each, but you can read an online encyclopedia for that. Instead, this article only includes sandwiches that we’ve actually eaten in our quest to find the best sandwich in the world. The same goes for the photos.
Without further ado, these are our favorites sandwiches around the world:
1. Smoked Meat Sandwich (Canada)
When we crave a deli sandwich in New York, we eat a Pastrami on Rye. In Montreal, we eat Smoked Meat Sandwiches when we have that same craving.
At first glance, Montreal’s smoked meat looks similar to New York’s pastrami. Though they share Eastern European ties, the difference lies in the recipe. Montreal meat makers use more pepper when they dry cure and smoke their brisket.
Discover our Montreal food favorites.
Schwartz’s is our favorite Montreal spot for eating Smoked Meat Sandwiches. The restaurant offers a choice ranging from lean to fatty meats in their sandwiches. We typically share a medium-fat sandwich with mustard and pickles.
Order extra rye bread and a side of fries if you share a Smoked Meat Sandwich at Schwartz’s. Trust us – this sandwich has more than enough smoked meat for two people to share.
2. Banh Mi (Vietnam)
The Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich with distinct ties to France. These ties include a baguette vessel, cheese and pâté. However, unlike French sandwiches, the Banh Mi sports additional ingredients like cucumber, chili peppers and pickles.
Regardless of the city, every Vietnamese Banh Mi we ate in its homeland was tasty, filling and cheap. In fact, we never spent more than the equivalent of a dollar and often much less for each. Perhaps that’s why we sometimes ate two at a time.
Check out our YouTube video and watch us eat Banh Mi sandwiches in Hoi An.
3. Bifana (Portugal)
Not only is the Bifana an iconic Portuguese sandwich, but it was also our gateway sandwich to Portuguese food in the Iberian country that we now call home. Once we tried a roll stuffed with strips of seasoned, marinated pork, we were hooked.
We weren’t the first food travelers to discover Bifanas. The late Anthony Bourdain ate one at Cervejaria O Trevo when he visited Lisbon to film No Reservations. But, since we live in Lisbon, we’ve certainly eaten enough Bifanas to know that Conga in Porto and As Bifanas fo Afonso in Lisbon are tops when it comes to Bifana preparation in Portugal.
Read our Lisbon restaurant guide.
4. Katsu Sando (Japan)
Although most Katsu Sandos come with a juicy fried cutlet nestled inside tender bread, pork isn’t the only protein filler for this Japanese sandwich. Other Katsu Sando fillings include chicken, egg and even high-grade Kobe beef.
Though we rarely say no to pork katsu in Japan, we queued to eat a creamy egg Katsu Sando in Osaka with no regrets. And we’re not the only ones to appreciate the egg version of this Asian sandwich.
Read our Osaka food guide.
5. Fischbrötchen (Germany)
In Hamburg, cooks and chefs have elevated the fish roll to a must-eat food the old fashioned way – with awesome ingredients. Instead of using fancy schmancy gastronomic techniques, they focus on crafting sandwiches with fresh bread and locally caught fish.
Hamburg fish stands serve Fischbrötchen with a range of fish including herring, mackerel, salmon and shrimp. However, some restaurant menus offer amped up Fischbrötchen with imported lobster.
Read our Hamburg restaurant guide.
6. Trapizzino (Italy)
Many of the best Italian foods have existed for millennia. The Trapizzino is an exception to this rule.
A relatively recent Roman creation, the Trapizzino takes Italy’s triangular Tramezzino (see below) to the next level by using pizza bianca in its bread pockets. Yes, the Trapizzino is a Tramezzino-Pizza hybrid.
The Trapizzino’s unique bread pocket is just one reason that it made our sandwich list. The other reason, and dare we say the main reason, is the quality of fillings used to fill those pockets. From meatballs to tripe alla romana, these meaty fillings take the Roman sandwich concept to cult level.
Discover our Rome food favorites.
7. Acarajé (Brazil)
While the Beirute and Bauru are popular Brazilian sandwiches, the African-influenced Acarajé makes us want to fly to Brazil in our ongoing quest to eat the best sandwiches in the world. We’re obsessed with the Brazilian street food stalwart thanks to a recommendation from our Brazilian friends from the blog Vida Cigana.
Different from every other sandwich in this guide, the Acarajé’s fried base is made with black eye pea paste instead of flour. Vatapá (an Afro-Brazilian paste made with bread, coconut milk, palm oil and peanut and dried shrimp) completes the sandwich while chunky salsa and hot sauce add extra flavor.
Order an Abara if you have an aversion to fried food. It’s a boiled version of the fried Acarajé.
8. Jianbing (China)
We somehow spent a month in China without eating Jianbing for breakfast. Shame on us! We rectified the situation when we returned to Shanghai for a repeat performance.
The opposite of fancy, Jianbing is basically a fried crêpe filled with a crispy fried cracker and ingredients like Chinese sausage, chicken, scallions, radishes and hoisin sauce. This morning street food is reason enough to skip dumplings and noodles for one meal. As a bonus, Jianbing is one of the most portable street foods in the world.
9. Francesinha (Portugal)
The Francesinha is the tastiest sandwich that you probably never heard of before today. Shh, don’t tell anybody, but we weren’t familiar with the over-the-top sandwich until we moved to Portugal where the Francesinha clogs arteries on a daily basis.
Smothered in tangy, beefy tomato gravy/sauce, this Porto food favorite combines a melange of meat (ham, sausage and steak) before adding a fried egg to the protein party. Although restaurants throughout Portugal serve Francesinhas, the best ones are in Porto where the sandwich was invented.
Find the best Francesinha sandwiches in our Porto Restaurant Guide.
Legend has it that the Francesinha’s inventor was inspired by the Croque Monsieur (see below). True or not, we’re reminded of open-faced hot diner sandwiches in Pennsylvania or New Jersey every time we dig our forks into Portugal’s sandwich monster.
Don’t try to pick up a Francesinha with your hands. You’ll need a fork and knife to eat this messy, meaty Portuguese sandwich.
10. Cheesesteak (USA)
Philadelphia can claim bragging rights to several things including the Rocky movies, the Liberty Bell and Tastykakes. However, no Philly creation garners more international attention that its Cheesesteak.
While Philadelphia Cream Cheese is famous around the world, the soft cheese condiment is actually a New York creation.
Originally invented by Pat Olivieri in South Philly, the Cheesesteak is a long Italian roll stuffed with thinly sliced steak (typically rib-eye) and melted cheese (typically Cheese Whiz, American or Provolone). Other toppings include fried onions and mushrooms as well as condiments like ketchup, mustard and pickled peppers.
Discover our Philadelphia food favorites.
Eating the Philadelphia food favorite is a must when you visit Philly whether you go to Pat’s King of Steaks or Geno’s Steaks. As for us, our favorite Cheesesteak spots include both Pat’s in the Italian Market and John’s Roast Pork in deep South Philly.
11. Bocadillo (Spain)
Tapas time is always a happy time since we adore snacks, beer and wine (not necessarily in that order). When we’re in Spain, the Bocadillo is one of our favorite tapas snacks.
A dainty yet fulfilling nibble, the Bocadillo is a tapas sized sandwich served on a roll similar to a baguette but smaller. Bocadillo fillings run the gamut and typically include proteins like jamón, pâté, omelets and seafood.
Discover our Barcelona food favorites.
12. Jambon Beurre (France)
The country that invented haute cuisine is also the country responsible for one of the simplest yet most pleasurable sandwiches in the world. Hailing from France, the Jambon Beurre is a sandwich that celebrates simplicity in every crusty, hammy, buttery bite.
Not surprisingly since its name literally translates to ham butter, a Jambon Beurre features just two ingredients – ham and butter – inside a crunchy baguette. When those ingredients are fresh and made by some of the best producers in the world, no additional ingredients are required.
13. Croque Monsieur (France)
French cafes have been frying up Croque Monsieur sandwiches with French cheeses like Comté, Emmental and Gruyère for more than a century. We’re not sure which ‘crunchy mister’ inspired the creation of this decadent sandwich, but we like his sandwich style.
Feeling feminine? Add a fried egg and eat a Croque Madame instead.
14. Doner Kebab (Germany and Turkey)
Inspired by Turkish cuisine and invented in Germany, the modern Doner Kebab is one of the best things to eat in Berlin at all hours of the day and night. Local sandwich shops and food stalls sell the meaty pita pocket from dawn to dawn. In other words, it’s always ‘doner o’clock’ in Berlin!
Discover our favorite Berlin food favorites.
Part of the fun of eating a Doner Kebab is watching the server shave meat off a cylinder of shawarma. Another part is choosing condiments like chopped tomatoes, pickled beats and savory sauces. However, the best part is biting into the flavorful, meaty, pita-contained mess.
Once you eat one Doner Kebab, you’ll want to repeat the experience every night that you’re in Berlin. It’s THE thing to eat after a ‘late night bender’.
15. Choripan (Argentina)
Whether or not you agree that the Hot Dog is a sandwich (we’re in the yes camp), there should be no debate that the Choripan belongs in any sandwich hall of fame. Though it resembles a humble Hot Dog, this savory South American sandwich is made with chorizo instead of frankfurters.
Available in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, the Choripan is most prevalent in Argentina where it was invented. Typical preparation involves splitting or slicing the chorizo and adding a prodigious amount of green chimichurri sauce. Other topping options include chopped tomato salsa, spicy mayonnaise and guacamole.
16. Broodje Haring (Netherlands)
While most Americans wouldn’t consider eating a raw herring sandwich at home, the smart ones know to eat a Broodge Haring when they visit the Netherlands. Popular among locals, the Broodge Haring is an Amsterdam food favorite sold at stands called vishandels throughout the Dutch capital city.
Discover our Amsterdam food favorites.
While it’s fun to eat a Broodge Haring at a vishandel next to a canal, seafood vendors also sell the fish sandwich at markets like Noordermarkt in Amsterdam. One is typically enough to satisfy our cured herring needs, especially when it’s topped with sweet gherkins and chopped onions.
17. Lampredotto Panino (Italy)
When it comes to tripe, most people fall into one of two categories. Some love the protein made from the cow’s fourth stomach while most wouldn’t eat tripe even if they’re starving. In Florence, people in the first category queue to eat Tuscan sandwiches filled with Lampredotto.
Discover our Florence food favorites.
Florentine kiosks sell Lampredotto Panini all over the city. Though it was originally a poor man’s dish, all sorts of people now eat this sandwich filled with slow-cooked, succulent tripe.
Italians excel at slow cooking and they are highly skilled at rendering texturally questionable offals like tripe into a beefy, unctious concoctions that melts in the mouth. The Lampredotto Panini is one of those concoctions.
Ask for your sandwich to be topped with zesty salsa verde for a full Lampredotto Panino experience.
18. Panino (Italy)
Not everybody who visits Italy will want to eat a Lampredotto Panino because… tripe. However, there’s no excuse when it comes to eating grilled Panini filled with more accessible cured meats and cheese.
19. Toastie (UK)
Don’t confuse Britain’s Toastie with a Grilled Cheese. Sure, they’re similar in many ways, but Brits are more serious when it comes to melting cheese between two pieces of bread.
Most Brits use a Breville sandwich maker, though frying pans will also suffice, when they cook this toasted mid-day comfort food. That being said, they also eat Toasties at markets and pubs.
Apparently Toasties don’t have to include cheese, but to us that’s just wrong. Less conventional fillings include ham, beans, haggis and Nutella.
Read our London market guide.
20. Montadito (Spain)
Popular throughout Spain, Montaditos are tiny tapas treats that can be eaten in a bite or two. But they’re not just available in Spain. The Spanish restaurant chain 100 Montaditos has opened multiple locations in Europe and the Americas.
Montaditos come filled with a vast variety of hot and cold toppings. Since they’re cheap in cost and small in size, there’s no excuse not to pair several Montaditos with a glass or two of wine, beer or sangria.
21. Falafel (Middle East)
Although we’ve yet to visit Egypt, we’ve happily scarfed down loaded Falafels in global cities like Paris, Amsterdam and Philadelphia. However, our favorites so far have been in the Israeli cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Deep fried chick pea balls are the star of any Falafel but ingredients like pickled vegetables, fresh veggies and tahini make this pita sandwich sing. The addition of hot sauce turns the Falafel song into a Falafel opera.
Discover our favorite hot sauces.
22. Paratha (India)
On its own, Paratha is an Indian flatbread. Once fillings like spicy potatoes, vegetables and lentils are added, Paratha becomes an Indian sandwich.
After eating her first Paratha sandwich on Gali Paranthe Wali during an Old Delhi food tour, Mindi became a Paratha fan. This introduction surely won’t be the last time that she eats the crispy snack sandwich in India or beyond.
See what it’s like to take an Old Delhi food tour.
23. Peameal Bacon Sandwich (Canada)
A Peameal Bacon Sandwich doesn’t have peas and isn’t big enough to be a meal, but don’t let these anomalies stop you from trying the iconic Toronto sandwich. Created by Toronto butcher Joe Hoiner a half century ago, it’s now both a signature sandwich and a must-eat food in Canada’s biggest city. It’s also the origin of what Americans call Canadian Bacon.
Not wanting to miss out on pork in Hogtown, we ordered Peameal Bacon Sandwiches at the Carousel Bakery in the St Lawrence Market. We then proceeded to greedily eat our soft roll sandwiches with a healthy dose of honey mustard.
24. Po Boy (USA)
Ironically, the best Po Boy shops in New Orleans are the opposite of poor. Locals and tourists wait in line to spend their money for New Orleans’ best sandwich every day of the week.
The legendary sandwich is a wonderful combination of French, German and Italian influences. In other words, the Po Boy isn’t just the best New Orleans sandwich. It’s the quintessential American sandwich.
25. Smørrebrød (Denmark)
The idea of topping a slice of bread with a protein, some greens and cheese or sauce may sound simple. But Denmarks’s humble Smørrebrød has grown from a basic, nourishing, utilitarian, bread-based 19th century meal to a platform for modern day chef-driven creativity.
Discover more of our Danish food favorites.
Generally, the Danish like eating Smørrebrød on thinly sliced Rugbrød, a dark whole grain rye that provides a wholesome base for fresh, local ingredients. They also don’t like to mix proteins. Each element has its own place in the construction of the sandwich. There’s no muddling of flavors.
There’s also a proper way to eat a Smørrebrød – with utensils and not hands. This half sandwich is a regal Danish institution but, most important, it’s a tasty meal that’s easy to find at Copenhagen restaurants as well as some of the city’s best bakeries and cafes.
Discover Denmark’s morning bun if you like breakfast sandwiches.
26. Piadina (Italy)
Some sandwiches are too big to fit into a normal-sized mouth. The slender Piadina is not one of those sandwiches. Popular in Romagna cities like Ravenna and Rimini, the Piadina is a simple yet buttery flatbread sandwich best served hot off the grill.
Don’t let this Italian sandwich’s simplicity fool you. Thanks to the quality of Emilia-Romagna meats and cheeses like Proscuitto di Parma, Mortadella and Parmigiano-Reggiano, the Piadina doesn’t need to be big to be great.
Discover tasty Emilia-Romagna food experiences.
27. Gyro (Greece)
Greece get major props for inventing the concept of democracy and hosting the original Olympics games, but one of the country’s tastiest foods is arguably the Gyro. Also known as Souvlaki, the Gryo is a Greek pita sandwich that makes for a hearty snack or light meal.
28. Bagel + Lox (Poland, USA and the World)
Bagel + Lox is a global phenomenon that started in Poland and thrived in New York City. Eastern European Jews transported the fishy sandwich over the Atlantic Ocean and the rest is sandwich history.
More than a light bite, a Bagel + Lox starts with a boiled mound of dense dough with a hole in its middle. Lox adds salty protein while cream cheese finishes the equation. Sliced tomato, raw onion and capers are optional add-ons.
Beyond our home city of Philadelphia and nearby New York, we’ve enjoyed fine versions in cities like Edinburgh, London, Verona, Vilnius, Riga, Budapest and Shanghai. You read that right. New York Bagels have also traveled over the Pacific Ocean with lox in tow.
29. Taco (Mexico)
Mexico is nothing short of a street food paradise with the best food easily eaten on the go. We love it all from Guacamole to Esquites as well as sandwiches like Tortas, Burritos and Gorditas. But when it comes to picking our favorite Mexican sandwich, it has to be the Taco.
Readily available in Mexico and throughout North America, a Taco is a tortilla (either corn or wheat) filled with seasoned meat and topped with fresh ingredients like cilantro, chopped onions and salsa. Our absolute favorite is Mexico’s Taco al Pastor made with marinated pork sliced to order from a rotating spit.
Ironically, the Taco is more of a specialty item in Europe with higher prices and lesser quality. This is why we run straight to a Mexican restaurant as soon as we arrive in the States for a visit.
30. Pulled Pork Sandwich (USA)
People barbecue all over the world in countries like China, Korea and South Africa. We like it all, but there’s something special about American barbecue in cities like Memphis, Lockhart and Kansas City. Maybe we love American barbecue best because we’re American. Or maybe Americans just do barbecue better.
Either way, the Pulled Pork Sandwich is a go-to sandwich when we want to eat barbecue with our hands. The all-American sandwich features juicy pulled pork (from the shoulder or whole hog), creamy coleslaw and sliced pickles. With the addition of tangy Carolina-style vinegar, this great sandwich tastes even greater.
31. Pork Bap (UK and Ireland)
While America’s Pulled Pork Sandwich is more about the meat, the focus of Britain’s Pork Bap is the bap (a/k/a the bread). The seemingly simple roll is a buttery vessel for eating porky products like porchetta, sausage and bacon.
32. Sausage Roll (Ireland)
Proving that sandwiches aren’t limited to the afternoon or evening, Ireland has embraced the breakfast roll as a popular morning meal in which utensils are purely optional. As lovers of both sandwiches and coffee, we fully endorse this concept that allows us to be two-fisted with a breakfast roll in one hand and a coffee in the other.
After eating several breakfast rolls in Dublin, we’ve determined that the Sausage Roll is the best breakfast roll. Eating seasoned sausage inside flaky bread at Dublin coffee shops makes us happy. And, at the end of the day, that’s the most important things of all.
Read our Dublin cafe guide.
33. Avocado Toast (Australia)
Australia’s most famous sandwich may be filled with vegemite, but our favorite sandwich from down under is toast topped with smashed avocado and sprinkled with spicy red pepper.
Yes, Avocado Toast is an open sandwich and, yes, it’s been co-opted by both hipsters and Instagram. But this hasn’t stopped us from enjoying Avo Toast in cities like Amsterdam, Charleston and Los Angeles.
34. Pølse (Norway)
Not your typical Hot Dog, a Norwegian Pølse is a cheap eats favorite in a country filled with expensive food choices. It’s also a tasty sandwich that rivals Hot Dogs around the world.
During our visit to Oslo, we skipped eating Pølsen at the neighborhood 7-11 and instead shared a loaded Pølse at Syverkiosken. At this colorful kiosk, owner Erlend Dahlbo makes his condiements from scratch and boils his links in meaty, homemade bone broth.
What really makes the Pølse experience unique is that, instead of a bun, the Norwegians eat their Hot Dogs in a unique Lompe potato pancake wrapper. It’s no wonder the Pølse is a Norwegian food favorite.
Discover our Norwegian food favorites.
35. Prego (South Africa and Portugal)
Although we live in Portugal, we got our introduction to Pregos in Cape Town. Like many countries around the globe, Portugal made it mark in South Africa during its era of world domination and colonization.
South Africans make their Pregos with steak typically cooked medium rare. Restaurants often serve them open faced and topped with beef gravy mixed with spicy piri-piri sauce that ‘brings the heat’.
Read our Cape Town food guide.
36. Tramezzino (Italy)
As much as we love eating Neapolitan pizza, sometimes we want something different when we’re eating on the go in Italy. The Tramezzino fits the bill in these rare instances.
Invented in Turin almost a century ago, Tramezzinos are triangular sandwiches filled with ingredients like tuna, cured meat and veggies. Smaller than Panini and Piadini (see both above), these sandwiches are ideal to pair with a coffee or beer for a quick snack between meals.
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About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: November 21, 2020