15 Signature Sandwiches in Cities Around the World

Last week, our Food Fridays story was all about the Cuban sandwich and its roots in Tampa, Florida. Inspired by the idea of the “signature sandwich,” we started itching for more. We asked you to share the sandwich that makes your city sing, and you answered (and made us drool a little).

Without further ado, here are 15 signature sandwiches — recommended by locals from around the world:

Buffalo, New York (USA): @Marie8288 reports that Buffalo’s hometown pride is a beef on weck — thinly sliced rare roast beef on a kummelweck roll (the top half of which is sopped in au jus), served with horseradish and a dill pickle.

Barcelona, Spain: Enchanting Barcelona Tours swears the Spanish city’s signature hand-held meal is the Bikini (grilled ham and cheese), a sandwich that gets its name from the Bikini music venue. “I’ll have a bikini to go, please!”

Edmonton, Canada: According to local @carol_neuman, “Edmontonians love BLTs (Bison/Lichen/Turnip)!” We’re not sure if she’s kidding, but it sure sounds interesting!

Tucson, Arizona (USA): Anne Hernandez Urban says the Arizona city’s favorite sandwich is the Sonoran hot dog — a hot dog “with bacon, beans, and crema, in a delicious, fresh French roll.” Get it at El Guero Canelo, she says.

Santiago, Chile: Santiago Adventures (@StgoAdventures) says the Chilean capital is known for the Churrasco Italiano — “sliced beef on a bun smothered in avocado, tomato, and mayo.”

Tuscany, Italy: Nat Geo editor Korena di Roma recommends “a panino with wild boar salami and local cheese” in the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. When it comes to enjoying this regional specialty, “the simpler the better,” she says.

Boston, Massachusetts (USA): According to @Globaltravler, “Boston’s sandwich would have to be the lobster roll.”

Izmir, Turkey: @lizardOnTheRoad recommends trying a kumru, a sandwich that gets its name from its dove-shaped bread. The chickpea sourdough is stuffed with sucuk (spicy, garlic-flavored Turkish sausage), cheese, and pickled cucumbers and peppers.

Washington, D.C. (USA): Take it from us at Nat Geo headquarters, the District’s signature sandwich has got to be the half-smoke, a larger, spicier version of the hot dog. Ben’s Chili Bowl is the undisputed king of the half-smoke.

Baltimore, Maryland (USA): Two people (@amy_crojoamy and @SocialMarketGal) called out the crab-cake sandwich in D.C.’s sister city. Better make sure it’s made with jumbo lump crab meat. Nothing else cuts the mustard in this city by the bay.

Amman, Jordan: Zain Habboo (@zainyh), maven of digital travel content at National Geographic, suggests the shawarma (or shawirma) in her hometown of Amman. Get it at Cafeteria Reem.

Barbados: @salt5857 says the sandwich of choice for this Caribbean island nation is a “Bread & Two,” two fish cakes tucked into Bajan salt bread.

Louisville, Kentucky (USA): Sara Zeglin (@szeglin), a member of the Kids team here at National Geographic, points to the Hot Brown, a sandwich named after the hotel that made it famous. This open-faced sandwich, featuring turkey and bacon slathered with Mornay sauce, is baked until golden brown.

Cape Town, South Africa: @Jadestar361h says the thing to eat in Cape Town is the Gatsby, a deli sandwich that originated in the Cape Flats section of the city. A long bread roll is cut lengthwise and stuffed with whatever happens to be around, though hot chips (French fries) are a common ingredient.

Houston, Texas (USA): @VisitHoustonTX votes for the bánh mì. “We have a huge Vietnamese population and some of the best Vietnamese food anywhere.”

What’s your city’s signature sandwich? Tell us in the comment section below and we might just have to do another follow-up post.


  1. Chris K
    Washington DC
    May 28, 2013, 5:33 pm

    YEP! 4TH opinion on Ben’s agrees with the first three. Every year or so I will have a friend from out of town visiting who has heard the hype and wants to go — so we go. Inevitably they are as disappointed as I am and the locals are. The family is still resting on good will earned during the ’68 riots and Bill Cosby’s endorsement.

  2. ZippyDog
    Washington DC
    March 4, 2013, 11:05 am

    I am going to have to third Jason’s comment, Ben’s has some great history, but without exception the food is just not good. The only legendary sandwich that has its roots in DC would be the fried fish sandwich such as Harold and Dickie’s puts out – all the other great sandwiches in and around DC have provenance elsewhere (such as the great Chivito from FastGourment being of Uruguayan origin).

  3. Joe H.
    Baltimore, MD
    February 27, 2013, 5:29 pm

    I don’t always eat my sandwiches in Syracuse, NY but when I do I look for the Big Red Reuben–Lean corned beef, hot red cabbage, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese, piled on dark rye bread and grilled. Always with a large German beer, of course, served cordially for decades at Danzer’s.

  4. Chris Jay
    Shreveport, Louisiana
    February 27, 2013, 3:30 pm

    The Shrimp Buster, served at Herby-K’s in Shreveport since 1955, is an open-faced sandwich featuring jumbo Gulf shrimp pounded flat, fried, and stacked on French bread. It’s served with cole slaw and the restaurant’s secret recipe shrimp buster sauce. It’s an entire city’s comfort food.

  5. John T
    Washington D.C.
    November 12, 2012, 1:47 pm

    Jason is absolutely right, Ben’s Chili Bowl is a glorified hot dog cart. This list isnt complete without a smoke salmon sandwich on Inis Mor, Aran Islands or Galway City, Ireland. And don’t forget an Italian hoagie from the Italian markets on 9th street in South Philly.

  6. Keith B
    Port of Spain (PoS) Trinidad W.I
    November 3, 2012, 12:58 pm

    In the twin island republic nation of Trinidad & Tobago the Bake & Shark is tops. A filet of fried young shark served in a fry bake with lettuce, onion, pineapple, cucumber and tomato. Available at popular beach spots such as Maracas Beach on Trinidad’s North Coast.

    November 2, 2012, 1:06 pm

    I am glad to see Kumru from Izmir in your list. Thanks.

  8. J Max
    Vancouver, BC
    November 2, 2012, 12:00 am

    Vancouver’s signature sandwich is the West Coast salmon burger- made with a gorgeous grilled, locally sourced wild Pacific salmon fillet, served with a side of yam fries, and topped off with a glass of micro-brewed honey lager.

  9. HK Gill
    Hong Kong
    November 1, 2012, 11:52 pm

    The Heringsbrötchen in my home town Hamburg in Germany are delicious. If only I could get them here in Hong Kong…

  10. Wayne Arthurson
    October 28, 2012, 6:17 pm

    Never heard of a Bison, Lichen and Turnip sandwich in Edmonton. Someone’s yanking your chain, big time.

  11. Charles Mandel
    October 28, 2012, 6:07 pm

    Why is it Edmonton has the least credible source (“a local”) who offers the stupidest sandwich suggestion ever? As an Edmontonian, born-and-raised, I can tell you no such thing exists. Nor does publishing such stupidity in any way enhance National Geographic’s reputation, which at one time, was built partially on its stringent fact-checking.

  12. Lu
    Sydney, Australia
    October 28, 2012, 7:09 am

    Vegemite and avocado.
    A little bit salty, a little creamy and a whole lot of yum!

  13. Luis
    Zaragoza (Spain)
    October 27, 2012, 3:06 pm

    Famous in Montreal is delicious smoked meat sandwich, created at Schwartz Deli. Wonderful.

  14. Alex Smith
    Washingtong D.C.
    October 27, 2012, 1:14 am

    Now these sandwiches are smoking hot! I would want try one of these kumuru with a twist in Tuscany, Italy. Aren’t there any sandwiches in D.C that you like?


  15. Marilyn Terrell
    October 26, 2012, 5:38 pm

    Don’t forget the French dip sandwich at Philippe’s, a Los Angeles classic since 1918: http://www.philippes.com/history/

  16. Jason
    October 26, 2012, 5:15 pm

    oh be serious. you’re in DC, and you know the half-smoke is not good. it’s just drunk food. i’m ready for the myth of ben’s chili bowl to be put to rest… it’s not on par with any of the sandwiches that are pictured here.