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Photograph: Neil Burger

The 25 most spectacular sandwiches in the world

These otherworldly handhelds are the best thing since sliced bread.

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen
Time Out editors

Sandwiches are having a moment right now, and it's not hard to see why. Over the past year, restaurants around the globe have pivoted to include more casual, carryout-friendly eats that cater to our lockdown lives. The humble, universally beloved handheld has quickly claimed a top spot on menus far and wide, offering a carbo-loaded vehicle for creativity and comfort.

Even now, as our cities emerge from hiding and restaurants fling open their doors, the sandwich remains hellbent on sticking around. And who are we to disagree? To pay homage to the ancient art of cramming our favorite ingredients between two slices of bread, we're shining a spotlight on the world's best, most sensational sandwiches right now. If these stackers could talk, they'd tell stories of resilience, survival and boundless innovation.

And because we can already hear some chatter coming from the peanut gallery, we'll clear the air: A hot dog is not a sandwich. Neither is a taco. And though you could make a good case that a burger fits the bill, we've excluded patties from this list to keep things focused. Now, without further ado, we invite you to sink your teeth into the world's best sandwiches.

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The best sandwiches in the world

What’s on it? Roasted turkey, cabbage-citrus-serrano-chili slaw, pickled carrot, miso-sesame aioli, cilantro, furikake and sliced almonds on Bub & Grandma’s focaccia

Allow us to preempt your avocado toast wisecrack: If there’s a sandwich that tastes like Los Angeles, it’s actually this. Served only at Wax Paper’s Chinatown outpost, the roasted turkey sandwich is eclectically L.A. in every way possible, from its KCRW DJ namesake to its Mexican-inspired slaw, smear of Japanese seasoning and the fluffy focaccia from farmers’ market staple Bub and Grandma’s. It’s an umami-laden colossus that’ll leave you scavenging for every last scrap of the sweet-and-spicy cabbage-citrus-serrano slaw (a hyphenated concoction that the menu cheekily reassures is “all one thing”). Maybe it’s best that we’ve enjoyed its messiness in private this past year, but we can’t wait to grab a seat again at one of the half-dozen bar stools tucked inside of a mini-mall.—Michael Juliano, Time Out Los Angeles

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What’s on it? Bresaola, gabagool, salami, mortadella, provolone, vinegar peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise on a semolina sub roll

Your eyes are not deceiving you: This sub deploys a quartet of meat – from ruby-red bresaola and nut-studded mortadella to Tony Soprano-approved gabagool and peppery salami. The veg accessories add much-needed crunch and acidity, while the chewy semolina roll ensures no ingredient goes rogue. It’s the kind of sub that requires both hands and some mouth stretches before you dive in. London is very much a sandwich city, and Dom’s is now our leader.—Joe Mackertich, Time Out London

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What’s on it? Mie goreng noodles, fried egg, shallots, mozzarella and gruyere on white bread

If there were a concept to pique the interest of gluten gluttons everywhere, it’s the idea of carbs wrapped in more substantial, structurally sound carbs. The stoner-chic mie goreng sandwich at this CBD hole-in-the-wall joint is so much more than the sum of its parts, like any good sando should be: spicy mayo is slathered on bread, followed by a mess of spicy-sweet instant noodles, an oozy fried egg and shallots. The whole thing is gloriously bound together by a combination of mozzarella and nutty gruyere. It’s basically the uni student dream, but legitimised – even the city’s pressed-linen-wearing, briefcase-toting bankers are lining up around the block to get one.—Divya Venkataraman, Time Out Sydney

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What’s on it? Fresh cream and Japanese strawberries on white bread

A trio of impossibly simple ingredients make up this luscious, bulging mouthful of a sandwich. While fruit sandos are quintessentially Japanese and therefore ubiquitous across Tokyo, Da Cafe Ebisu is so confident in the quality of its ingredients that its fruit sandwiches need nothing else to stand out. The bread is, quite frankly, inconsequential here, as all it needs to do is encase the two real stars of the show. The housemade fresh cream boasts the slightest hint of saltiness to avoid competing with the sweetness of the plump, picture-perfect strawberries, which are sourced directly from farms across Japan.—Lim Chee Wah, Time Out Tokyo

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What's on it? Cherrywood smoked boneless ribs, coleslaw, pickled onion and house spicy sauce on ciabatta

In a year of constant innovation, one sandwich spot in NYC leads the pack for its sheer boundless creativity: Foxface in the East Village. Operating out of a small pop-up window on St. Mark’s Place, the sandwich wizards here produce new and exciting handhelds every single day, utilizing rare meats like elk and camel. But the star of the show is the Smoking Fox, the only sandwich that remains on the menu daily – and for good reason. Like a McRib that’s gone to grad school, this stacker flawlessly balances spicy and sweet flavors, thanks in part to the house hot sauce, which is crafted with orange vinegar and tongue-tingling habaneros. It’s playful and inventive, just like NYC’s current can-do, DIY attitude.—Will Gleason, Time Out New York

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What's on it? Tuna tartare, burrata, tomato, caper oil and basil pesto on a roll

Look, no one's denying that fried fish sandos are a beautiful thing, but this raw number seriously ups the ante. Loaded with 100 grams of premium, ruby-red tuna tartare, this massive sandwich gets bonus points because it's served seaside in the coastal town of Polignano a Mare, Italy. This isn't just some poke bowl slapped between bread though – a thick layer of oozy burrata seeps into every nook and cranny, while a dollop of basil pesto lends a burst of earthy freshness. You'll be tempted to devour it on the spot, but take the five-minute walk to the water for unparalleled views of the Adriatic Sea while you nosh.


What’s on it? Brisket and beer mustard on rye bread

Mananá World Deli, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways. This ghost kitchen emerged in the thick of the pandemic to bring the city what it needed most: comfort food (and a boatload of carbs). There’s also the fact that the crew here takes their meat game seriously. Case in point: The prime choice angus brisket on this sandwich is cured for 15 days before it’s smoked for a leisurely nine hours, resulting in tender, melt-in-your-mouth protein that gets a kick from thick, whole-grain mustard. And because this new-wave deli only deals in takeout, you can devour it from the comfort of home. Napkins at the ready, people!—Andrea Vázquez, Time Out Mexico City

What’s on it? Panko-crusted wagyu beef, Japanese mayo and tonkatsu sauce on white bread

Few things hit better than a fast-food burger after a long night of drinking. In Singapore, instead of stumbling to the nearest golden arches for a forgettable patty, the savviest barflies opt for this celebrated katsu sando. Marbled wagyu is brined before it’s crusted in crispy, crunchy panko and deep-fried to a golden hue. From there, the meat is slathered in tonkatsu sauce and premium kewpie mayo before it’s nestled between two slices of crustless white bread. Sure, it’s a bit more costly than your typical cheeseburger, but at least you’ll remember it long after your hangover wears off.—Delfina Utomo, Time Out Singapore

🥪 Discover more of the best sandwiches in Singapore


What’s on it? Marcel Petite Comté, Swiss gruyere, butter and shallots on sourdough bread

Maker and Monger is the cheese shop of our lactose-obsessed dreams. The small but mighty stall operates out of Melboourne’s historic Prahran Market and dishes out oodles of grilled cheese toasties. But we’ve got a soft spot for the Fondue, which is no pedestrian ‘I’m-a-bit-peckish-where’s-the-jaffle-maker?’ affair. Two slabs of expertly toasted, butter-slathered sourdough conceal loads of molten Marcel Petite Comté and Swiss gruyere plus shallots, wine and garlic reduced to a jammy umami bomb. A sprinkle of delicate salt flakes seals the deal.—Rushani Epa, Time Out Melbourne

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What's on it? Pulled pit-cooked pork, Rodney's sauce and fried pork skins on white bread

There's a reason why famed pitmaster Rodney Scott calls this sandwich "The King of the Menu." Two slices of Martin's old-fashioned white bread are splayed out and covered in 6 ounces of pulled, pit-cooked whole hog. The mess of meat gets a mouthwatering jolt of energy from Scott's house sauce, which is a vinegary, peppery condiment worthy of namesake recognition. The finishing touch? A smattering of impossibly crispy, perfectly seasoned pork skins. The best way to get after it is to pick up one of those slices, fold it and chow down. Position the other end of your tray so that you don't lose a single shard of Scott's award-winning hog.


What’s on it? House-smoked pastrami, pickles, mustard and Swiss cheese on sourdough

You’ll find this beautiful behemoth of a sandwich at the brand-new Time Out Market Dubai. From home-grown smokehouse Local Fire by The Mattar Farm, the tender, juicy pastrami comes house-smoked by UAE pitmaster extraordinaire Hattem Mattar. The perfectly charred, smoky beef is a full-on flavour punch, and comes bundled into crispy sourdough toast, slathered in gloriously gooey melted cheese and crunchy pickles. The textures marry expertly, while a slick of tangy mustard gives this splendid sarnie a warming kick. Still hungry? It’s served with your choice of sides like apple slaw, potato salad and mac ’n’ cheese. For a hearty snack to get your chops around, you won’t find better in town.—Amy Mathieson, Time Out Dubai

🥪 Discover more of the best sandwiches in Dubai

What's on it? Fried silverside fish and tartar with yellow pepper on a roll

No matter when you visit, the tables at this dreamy Peruvian cevicheria will be dotted with candy-colored cocktails and mounds of raw fish slicked in lemon juice or tiger's milk. But after your second Paloma, you might crave something that can sop up the tequila and mezcal – enter the sandwich "La Perla." This small but mighty handheld finds a gaggle of deep-fried pejerrey (small silver fish) swimming in the brightest, most addictive yellow pepper-infused tartar sauce. A nest of razor-thin red onions and chilis acts as a crunchy crown. It's the kind of thing you'll want to order two of, so save your server the extra trip and double down.


What’s on it? Ham and craft butter on a baguette

What do Mark Zuckerberg, a broke intern and supermodel Kate Moss all have in common? They’ve all trodden the vintage tiles of this authentic Parisian bistrot, which is a relic of the ’60s. Le Petit Vendôme is decorated in yellow and red formica, there are cheesy piggy banks everywhere, and obscene amounts of ham and sausage hang on the butcher’s fangs. It’s hell for vegans and heaven for us meat-lovers. Here, jambon beurre (ham and butter sandwich) is a piece of art. They’re made to order and prepared in front of you using Julien Bakery’s award-winning baguettes, gobs of super-fresh craft butter and ribbons of ham straight from the bone. It puts the tasteless pink stuff from the supermarket to shame. If you could eat, feel and smell the City of Lights, this would be it.—Tina Meyer, Time Out Paris

What’s on it? Chicken tikka, celery, white sauce, masala omelette, tomato chutney and cheddar on white bread

This super-stacker is an ode to the Anglo-Indian mess halls of the 1920s, where two conflicting cultures – along with their cuisines – came together and sat down for lunch. The kitchen at Rajasthan Rifles flips the script on the classic club and brings together British and Indian provisions in a fellowship of flavors. Spiced chicken tikka meets creamy white sauce, and a fluffy masala omelette gets a boost from tangy chutney. Welsh cheddar – sourced from Lord Newborough’s Rhug Estate – glues everything together (as cheese often does). The thick-cut chips offer an excuse to slow down between bites.—Fontaine Cheng, Time Out Hong Kong

🥪 Discover more of the best sandwiches in Hong Kong


What’s on it? Pulled pork, corned beef, swiss cheese, pickles, sauerkraut, yellow mustard and Russian dressing on grilled rye

As far as mashups go, Kush Hialeah’s Newman’s Jewban blows it out of the water with this sinful only-in-Miami creation. The winning combo marries the best parts of a classic, deli-style reuben – corned beef, swiss cheese, pickles, sauerkraut – and the only part that matters in a Cuban pan con lechón, the juicy roasted pork. It’s all stacked high on a couple of pieces of grilled rye bread – a vibrant and earthy alternative to the simple white Cuban baguette – and dressed with yellow mustard and Russian dressing, which is a real treat for folks who like their sandwiches on the saucier side. This one is drippy; it’s the kind of two-hander you can’t even take your pinky off of without the chunks of tangy meat cascading back onto your plate. If all else fails, fork and knife it. There’s no way you’re leaving one bite of this Jewban behind.—Virginia Gil, Time Out Miami

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What's on it? Pork schnitzel, smoked ham, mountain cheese, anchovy-caper butter, lamb's lettuce and pickles on a bun

Proof that you can (and should) stuff delicious foods inside sandwiches, Marktlokal's Cordon Bleu stacker is the stuff stoner dreams are made of. One bite reveals a secret compartment of molten cheese and succulent ham hiding inside a crispy pork schnitzel patty. A heap of lamb's lettuce and a stack of lemony dill pickles lighten the load, while a pillowy bun from nearby Italian bakery Sironi offers something to hold on to. Trust us, it comes in handy when you're licking anchovy-caper butter from your fingers before going in for your next bite.


What’s on it? Goat cheese, smoked ham, arugula and peach preserves on sourdough

Not even Carl Sandburg could have dreamed up a sandwich like this in the city he named the “Hog Butcher for the World.” The Midwest’s ubiquitous ham and cheese gets a serious upgrade in the hands of chef Joe Frillman, who ditches Swiss in favor of earthy chèvre. But the overperformer here is the mess of macerated, succulently sweet peach preserves (or strawberry or rhubarb, depending on the season). If you could somehow cram summer in Chicago between two pieces of bread, this would be it.—Morgan Olsen, Time Out

🥪 Discover more of the best sandwiches in Chicago

What’s on it? Tenderloin steak and herb butter on bolo do caco bread

There isn’t a Lisbonner out there who doesn’t enjoy a good prego, a traditional Portuguese steak sandwich. Designed to be devoured at any time of the day – after a seafood platter or a football game, on a quick lunch or a long snack, and always with a cold beer to chase it – this simple but beefy sando is an undisputed icon. Best of all, you’ll find them everywhere, from cervejarias and taverns to fine-dining hotspots. But Prego da Peixaria – with four restaurants in Lisbon plus a corner at Time Out Market – is dedicated solely to the prego, offering several variations of the dish on its menu. As tempting as it is to mix it up, we can’t get enough of the clássico, with succulent tenderloin steak and addictive herb butter stuffed inside bolo do caco, a pillowy flatbread from Madeira Island.—Vera Moura, Time Out Lisbon


What's on it? Black bean-mushroom patty, poblano mayo, plantain, feta "cheese" and onion on pan telera

Renowned vegan chef Christian Manuel Ventura Alatorre unleashed his plant-based torta shop in the thick of lockdown as the ultimate nod to his favorite childhood snack. He uses veggies and legumes to mimic meaty flavors to a tee, ensuring both vegans and carnivores can find something to love on the menu. But perhaps no handheld is dearer to him than the "Veracruzana," a tribute to his mother. Much like the people of the Mexican city of Veracruz, this sando is an explosion of flavor, love and passion. The combination of fried plantains and black beans transports Ventura Alatorre back to his youth, while spicy mayo and vegan cheese act as gluing agents to pull everything together in delicious, meat-free harmony.

🥪 Discover more of the best sandwiches in Montreal 

What's on it? Roast sirloin, eggplant relish, onion and chili on grilled sourdough

When Austrailians Cassandra Karinsky and Sebastian de Gzell opened their serene dining room in Marrakech, they knew they wanted to bring a taste of home to the Red City. Their twist on an Aussie steak sandwich has found a permanent spot on their rotating hyper-seasonal menu, which embraces the local melting pot of cultures. This jaw-stretcher is flanked by hearty slices of grilled housemade sourdough and stuffed with juicy slow-roasted sirloin, tangy eggplant relish and a mess of onions and chilies. You won't find many sandwiches in Marrakech, but this one is worth seeking out.


What’s on it? Pork jowl, achiote and lettuce on focaccia

There’s only one piggy part that’s tastier and more tender than the belly. Yes, we’re talking about the jowl. Leave it to the barbecue experts at Sants Es Crema to do justice to the super-juicy, wonderfully flavorful cheek meat. The Covid-born sandwich concept is the first of its kind in Barcelona, and the kitchen uses a robata grill to evoke smoky flavors from all kinds of carnivorous bits. But no trip is complete without this pork jowl handheld, which melds sweet fat and crunchy meat with a hit of earthy achiote and a swath of crisp, farm-fresh lettuce. It’s a study in textural balance that hits all the right notes.—Ricard Martín, Time Out Barcelona

🥪 Discover more of the best sandwiches in Barcelona

What’s on it? Blue cheese, chestnut mushrooms, veal bacon, veal cheek, rocket, lettuce, rosemary, tomatoes, capers and club sauce on focaccia

Sandwich mania has taken Istanbul by storm, and there’s boundless creativity bursting from the tiniest of shops, especially in the restaurant-obsessed neighbourhood of Kadıköy. Though the area presents some stiff competition, we can confidently say that Bubada is making the best handhelds in town. In particular, there’s one sandwich on the menu that we can’t help but order again and again – even though we know we should branch out. The heavenly Blue Panini is unlike anything we’ve ever tried before: Bubbly housemade focaccia acts as a vehicle for meaty mushrooms, smoky veal bacon and a smattering of veggies. It’s the funky, umami-rich blue cheese that pulls everything together and launches this sando into the stratosphere.—Deniz Huysal, Time Out Istanbul


What's on it? Avocado, cherry tomato, pumpkin seeds, wild rocket, basil pesto and balsamic glaze on sourdough

Tired of the sandwich being brushed off as a cheap, unhealthy afterthought, Aidan Mautschke and Günter Boisits sought to revolutionize the handheld using the freshest ingredients, including artisan breads and locally sourced produce from South African farms. The fruits of their labor are eight sandwiches that borrow inspiration from across the globe – from a Florida-homaging cubano to an ode to Portugal's prego. But the Verde is a new original that acts as a vegan vehicle for the area's freshest veggies. Creamy avocado and cherry tomatoes come to life thanks to a swath of basil pesto and a splash of balsamic glaze. But it's the pumpkin seeds that really seal the deal, adding an unexpected crunch that we can't get enough of.

What’s on it? Roasted pork leg, sheep milk cheese and house sauce on rustic bread

Modesty aside, Porto knows how to make a phenomenal sandwich. What helps this one stand out from the bunch? Casa Guedes’s secret is knowing how to make simple regional ingredients sing. The pork leg is roasted slowly and rendered tender before it’s sliced to order, soaked in sauce and laid to rest on toasted rustic bread. It’s perfect as is, but that shouldn’t stop you from adding a slice of creamy, slightly funky sheep milk cheese, which melts under the heat of the sauce. The staff will recommend pairing it with a glass of sparkling wine, but we prefer an ice-cold beer to wash it down.—Steffany Casanova, Time Out Porto


What’s on it? Asturian cheese, edam, cheddar and chutney on brioche

When María Formoso and José Cifuentes Ros moved from Barcelona to Madrid, they knew they wanted to bring the bikini with them. The classic ham and cheese sando is the backbone of their cozy restaurant, where they also serve specialty coffee, irresistible pastries and natural wines. The duo takes great pride in sourcing ingredients from local suppliers, creating a food chain that can be best experienced by ordering the Three Cheese Bikini. The cheeses are procured from Rafa (a trusted butcher and delicatessen in the neighborhood), the brioche is baked fresh at nearby Panadarío, and the pineapple-habanero chutney is crafted with care by Brutal Terrific Jams. Oh, and if you want to take it one step further, ask to add an egg from the happy hens in the Madrid mountains. It doesn’t get more local than this.—Gorka Elorrieta, Time Out Madrid

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