2nd November 2015

A Sandwich Lover’s Guide to Europe

Let’s face it: the best thing since sliced bread is…well, delicious things squished between sliced bread. The origins of the humble sandwich supposedly lie with John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, in the 1700s. Poor old John was too busy gambling to eat a proper meal so would ask his servants to pop his roast dinner between two slices of bread. For someone who became an earl at age ten, that’s some pretty forward thinking – and to say the sandwich has taken off is probably the understatement of the century.

To celebrate World Sandwich Day on November 3, which is definitely an excuse to eat a different carb-laden treat at every meal, here are a few of Europe’s most mouthwatering sandwiches:


Chip Butty – Liverpool


Now where’s that sliced pan?

The unassuming chip butty is arguably one of Britain’s most triumphant inventions. Originating somewhere in Northern England, whoever had the idea of buttering two pieces of bread, throwing in some hot chips and dousing it in sauce should replace David Cameron as Prime Minister immediately. What a national hero; what a proud moment for Britain.


Croque Monsieur – Paris

croque monsieur

The ultimate toastie


I mean, it’s basically a fancy toastie, but the Croque Monsieur is a deliciously guilty French staple adorning the menus of adorable street cafés through Paris. With sweet, fluffy brioche bread holding ham and cheese, then fried with an extra layer of cheese on top, the Croque has inspired toasted sandwiches all over the world – and has variations all across France, like the croques provençal, auvergnat and the Croque Madame, with a fried or poached egg plopped on top.

Try one at Pâtisserie Gerard Mulot, Paris


Francesinha – Porto

cafe santiago

There’s nothing ‘little’ about the Francesinha…


Meaning literally ‘little Frenchie’, the Francesinha is one of the trademark meals of Porto. Stuffing ham, sausage and steak (or another roast meat) between fresh bread, covering it all with a layer of cheese and a tomato-beer sauce then serving with fries; what could go wrong? My arteries are weeping but it’s culture, right?

Try one at Café Santiago, Porto


Smørrebrød – Copenhagen



Pile ’em high


Literally meaning ‘butter and bread’, the Danish sandwich delicacy is ever so slightly healthier than its Mediterranean counterparts. Consisting of a piece of buttered dark rye bread (Scandinavia’s #cleaneating aesthetic reigning supreme) and a selection of toppings laid out, the idea is that the sandwich consumer will pile on as much meat, eel, pâté, cheese, salads and fish as that rye bread can handle. Delicious AND nutritious…until you realise you’re seventeen slices in and you regret everything.

Try one at Restaurant Schonnemann, Copenhagen


Broodje kroket – Amsterdam


amsterdam sandwich123456

Everyone wants a piece of the tasty Broodje Kroket


One of two mentions for the Netherlands – apparently Europe’s sandwich capital, you know something’s big when McDonald’s make their own version. What started as a traditional Dutch sandwich sold in restaurants and street stalls and is now the McKroket, the broodje kroket is a meat croquette – a meat ragout covered in breadcrumbs and rolled into a sausage shape – in a bread roll. Simple, but utterly delish.


Zapiekanka – Krakow



Melty, melty goodness


One to make the vegetarians rejoice , the Zapiekanka is a Polish open-faced sandwich dating back to the 1970s, when the Polish communist regime prompted the opening of many small family-owned food outlets, or mała gastronomia. Slice a long baguette in half, fill it with sautéed button mushrooms and melty cheese, toast or microwave it then splatter with a generous dollop of ketchup, and that’s the zapiekanka. Just try and eat that neatly– I dare you.

Try one at Endzior, Krakow


Bocadillo – Madrid

Bread. Calimari. It doesn’t get classier


Another sandwich served on thick, delicious crusty baguette, the bocadillo is Spain’s far more cultured answer to the very American ‘sub’. Filled with omelette, chorizo, cold meats or calimari it’s a simple sandwich that doesn’t pack on the salads, save for perhaps a couple of slices of tomato to moisten the bread. Very classy, Spain.

Try one at: El Brillante, Madrid


Mitraillette – Brussels

mitrailette sandwich1

We’d expect no less from Belgium


Belgium – our self-appointed Land Of The Carbs – doesn’t disappoint on its quest to figure out how many types of starch it can fit into each meal. The mitraillette is another sub-like sandwich (literally named after a sub-machine gun, probably because it will murder your cholesterol levels) in a baguette filled with some sort of fried meat AND fries AND cheese AND some sort of ketchup, mayonnaise or béarnaise sauce. Instant food coma, but this one’s totally worth it.

Try one at Fritland, Brussels


Panino – Milan

Possibly Europe’s most stylish sandwich…


A favourite of cafés the world over, the panino (the singular form of panini) means “small bread” in Italian, and originated in Milan – which explains its trendiness. So universally popular it barely needs explaining, the sandwich uses ciabatta-like bread and can be filled with anything from ham to salami to salads to cheese, before being toasted in a sandwich press and served as a meal or quick take-away snack. Bellissimo!

Try one at Crocetta Panini d’Autore 1982, Milan


Smörgåstårta –  Stockholm

sandwich cake123

Only in Sweden


Typical Scandinavia, always having to outdo everyone else with their sleekness and style. Of COURSE a Swedish pastry chef (Göran Gunnarsson, if you’d like to build a shrine to him) went and invented a sandwich-cake hybrid. The Smörgåstårta alternates layers of bread and then toppings from meats to caviar to egg to salad, with an impressive and stylish savoury garnish on top – of course. To be honest they seem too beautiful to try and eat: that’s a work of art, not a sandwich!


Gyro – Athens


gyro athens

Especially good at 4am


Gyro, souvlaki, kebab – call it what you like, the Mediterranean delicacy has to be one of the world’s most popular sandwiches. Now the hero of many 4am walks home in most Western countries, the dish consists of meat from a vertical rotisserie filling up a pita bread wrap, accompanied by a salad garnish and tzatziki sauce – and usually a hearty serving of chips or fried potatoes on the side. Don’t even pretend to judge me: we’ve all done it!

Try one at Thanasis, Athens


Hagelslag – Amsterdam

sprinkle sandwich

When only chocolate will do


Feel that sweet tooth kicking in? The Netherlands has you covered, with its incredibly simple-yet-genius hagelslag, which I have definitely not purchased en masse and stored in my cupboard for emergencies. Similar to Australia’s weird and wonderful ‘fairy bread’ tradition, hagelslag sandwiches involve buttering bread, then topping it with chocolate sprinkles. That’s it. Basically a chocolate sandwich. The only downside is that the world hasn’t capitalised on this genius concept yet – bless you, Holland, you legends.

Pick up a box in the cereal aisle of any good Dutch supermarket.


Got some recommendations of your own to add to this list?  Don’t keep them to yourself, leave a comment below!

Mathilda Edwards

Mathilda Edwards

Matilda Edwards is based between London and Melbourne and can be found blogging at: Matilda Edwards.




    3rd November 2015 at 3:43 am
    • Fiona Hilliard
      Fiona Hilliard

      Good one:) Thanks for the tip Alexandros

      3rd November 2015 at 9:00 am
    • Alexander

      What is it please tell??

      30th November 2015 at 11:01 am
  • Jonas Cabanas

    This guide is incorrect I’m afraid. It states that the Francesinha is the trademark meal of the nation’s capital (which is Lisbon). This sandwich although available in Lisbon and in the majority of Portugal, is actually the TRADEMARK meal of PORTO, some 200 miles away from LISBON. It was invented by some Portuguese waiter emigrant dude in France in the late 50’s who worked in a French restaurant and said to himself “you know, I can do a better version of el croquet monsieur”, so he did, returned to a restaurant called Regaleira in Porto, invented sandwich and it now charms the tastes buds of millions. Thanks Portuguese waiter dude from the late 50’s. Yummy.

    30th November 2015 at 1:35 am
    • Fiona Hilliard
      Fiona Hilliard

      Thanks Jonas, we’ve updated the piece 🙂

      30th November 2015 at 8:36 am
  • Janneke

    Thank you for these lovely tips! Being a Dutchie living abroad, I am now craving a ‘broodje kroket’! The ‘broodje hagelslag’ in the picture looks to be a ‘beschuit’ hagelslag, beschuit being the traditional Dutch crisp bread. Very recommendable!

    30th November 2015 at 2:34 pm
  • Ger Hennessy


    Where’s the Irish Breakfast Roll?

    Dublin, Breakfast roll, number 1 single, “Breakfast Roll Man” economic phrase

    12th February 2016 at 8:32 am
    • Dee Murray
      Dee Murray

      Best breakfast on the planet.

      22nd February 2016 at 11:35 am
    • Peadar

      or the Tayto Sandwich!!!

      17th March 2016 at 9:26 am
  • Roger Greenwood

    What about a classic bacon sandwich ?

    19th February 2016 at 6:21 am
    • Alan Hope

      Nobody in the world can beat an English Fried bacon Sandwich 1 !

      17th November 2016 at 9:39 pm
  • Gary Dodds

    Where’s Paddy’s Pizza in this list of delicious treats? A slice of Irish soda bread topped with ham and cheese and melted under the grill …..absolutely delicious washed down witH a pint of the famous black stuff…..yummmm

    20th February 2016 at 6:02 am
  • Don McMahan

    don’t forget the iconic Irish sandwich, the star attraction of the sandwich tray at every wake, one very thin slice of Denny’s Crumbed Ham between two slices of white sliced pan…..

    22nd February 2016 at 9:17 am
    • Dee Murray
      Dee Murray

      served to the sound of all your aunties and uncles telling you how much you’ve shot up.

      22nd February 2016 at 11:36 am
  • Carole

    My favourite is brie and cranberry on granary toasted sandwich

    23rd February 2016 at 8:09 am
  • Fran

    You must add the Irish breakfast roll. http://goireland.about.com/od/ABC/fl/Breakfast-Roll-or-Breakfast-Bap.htm

    27th February 2016 at 5:57 am
  • Vincent

    Super stuf, specialy the dutch broodje croqet

    28th February 2016 at 9:49 am
  • ben

    this is such a stupid guide…. no mention of a hot chicken roll… staple of the irish student…

    31st March 2016 at 2:55 pm
  • Damian McEvoy

    Yes, am disconsolate that the Irish Breakfast Roll did not make it into this Top 10 – sort it out, with immediacy!

    1st April 2016 at 12:36 am
  • Alan Hope

    Nobody in the world can beat a good Old English fried bacon sandwich !

    17th November 2016 at 9:41 pm

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