Chicago’s 21 Best International Sandwiches


There's no better culinary canvas to display Chicago's world-class range of cuisines than the sandwich. Naturally, we lean toward the meatiest and cheesiest of bread-toppers, but we’re not limited to just carbo-loading on Italian beef sandwiches alone. We’ve culled 21 of the most craveable sandwich styles from around the world, found right here in Chicago, and sorted them by country/region.


<strong>Where to get it: Barra Ñ</strong> (<a href="; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Avondale</em><br />
The Argentinian-style cocktail lounge/restaurant from the Tango Sur team has mojitos and pisco sours, dancing to live Latin music and DJs, and edibles like the choripán, prepared with homemade sausage and red onions on a crusty, crisp bread to soak up the meat juices and chimichurri sauce. Just keep an eye out for the ñ (pronounced EN-yay) sign on the industrial stretch of North Elston.


<strong>Where to get it:&nbsp;Scofflaw</strong> (<a href="; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Logan Square</em><br />
You probably won't find the salty, malty, beefy paste spread on sandwiches too often in US restaurants, but Scofflaw recently prepared a version of a Vegemite sandwich. New chef Sue Litz, who'd just taken over for Mickey Neely, created a cheese toastie with Vegemite, tomato, avocado, and caramelized onion on sourdough. Since it's off the menu now, let <a href="; target="_blank">Hugh Jackman be your guide</a>&nbsp;on how to really eat the stuff.


<strong>Where to get it: Taste of Brasil</strong> (<a href="…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Oak Park</em><br />
Tucked away on Oak Park Ave, this humble restaurant dishes up authentic Brazilian food and it's BYOB. Here you'll find the mighty picanha sandwich, which is piled high with well-seasoned, relatively thin-sliced tender steak, and is then smothered in caramelized onions and loaded in melty mozzarella goodness on a warm French roll.

<strong>Where to get it: Pot Sticker House</strong> (<a href="…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Bridgeport</em><br />
This no-frills Chinese spot in Bridgeport serves dumplings and traditional fare, plus less-familiar dishes. The chefs open up the delicate, crispy scallion pancakes and stuff the pockets with thinly sliced pork, then add plum sauce and onions for incredible flatbread sandwiches.


<strong>Where to get it: Irazú</strong> (<a href="; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Bucktown</em><br />
Billed a "Chicago favorite," this Costa Rican joint's pepito is bursting with flavor. The mouth-watering sandwich boasts ribeye steak (or chicken), sautéed onions, seasoned black beans, and gooey Muenster cheese between slabs of freshly baked French bread -- all topped with Lizano sauce, a traditional brown sauce made from vegetables and spices. Add hot peppers or avocado for an extra 50 cents each (and you should) and pair it with plantains and an oatmeal shake for an exceptional outdoor patio experience.


<strong>Where to get it: 90 Miles Cuban Cafe</strong> (<a href="…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Logan Square (&amp; other locations)</em><br />
This restaurant's Cuban mainstay features pork shoulder that's been marinated and roasted in-house (you'll even find them roasting pigs outside the Logan Square store in the summer). Then they pile on the slow-roasted ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and yellow mustard between hearty slices of a buttered baguette, marrying the flavors together as it's smashed in a panini press.


<strong>Where to get it: Bistro Campagne</strong> (<a href="; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Lincoln Square</em><br />
This neighborhood bistro prepares the iconic Parisian "snack," which is really more of a feast loaded with French ham and oozing, rich Gruyère cheese, for mimosa-filled brunches and romantic dinners. The quaint garden patio with hanging lights is the perfect setting to get your French fix.


<strong>Where to get it: Bohemian House</strong>&nbsp;(<a href="; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>River North</em><br />
If there's such a thing as a refined schnitzel sandwich, this River North spot has it for a heavy-hitting lunch or boozy brunch. BoHo's colossal, open-faced version features pork schnitzel loaded on rye bread with horseradish cream, sauerkraut, Emmentaler cheese, and, of course, a fried egg… because, why not?


<strong>Where to get it: Central Gyros</strong> (<a href="…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Belmont Cragin</em><br />
Some of the best gyros in the city come from Greektown, but you'll find authentic spots to get your spindle-meat fix in other 'hoods. Choose from two options for a sandwich at this old-school gyro destination -- either a beef/lamb combo or chicken -- and you'll be rewarded with garlic meatiness.


<strong>Where to get it: Bombay Wraps</strong> (<a href="…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>The Loop (&amp; other locations)</em><br />
This eatery (with two base locations and a roaming food truck) makes a range of classic Indian dishes portable via a traditional flatbread wrap. Take your grilled chicken breast marinated in Tandoori spices and finished with a fresh cilantro mint chutney and tikka masala sauce to go.


<strong>Where to get it: Nonna’s Sandwiches and Sundries</strong> (<a href="…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>West Loop</em><br />
While it's not on Nonna's menu permanently, you'll find the Florentine lampredotto occasionally as a special. Chef Tony Quartaro's lampredotto sandwich entails braised tripe, a bone marrow and mint salsa verde, red pepper condiment, hard-boiled egg slices, and beef jus on toasted, crusty ciabatta bread.


<strong>Where to get it: Cemitas Puebla</strong> (<a href="…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Logan Square, West Loop</em><br />
There are numerous variations, but Tony Anteliz, the owner of this family-owned sandwich shop, has experimented with the cemita. He even frequently visits Oaxaca to buy Mexican-made cheese and other goods for the quality back home. His Cemita Atomica is piled high with three meats -- Krakus ham, guajillo-rubbed pork loin, and breaded pork milanesa -- along with avocado, smoky chipotles, and Oaxacan string cheese.


<strong>Where to get it: Sultan's Market</strong> (<a href="…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Lincoln Park, Wicker Park</em><br />
This fast-casual joint with mostly vegetarian eats transforms the humble chickpea for its signature dish -- the falafel sandwich is one of the best in the city. Served in a warm pita lined with hummus and stuffed with falafel, tomatoes, and Jerusalem salad topped with creamy tahini and made as spicy as you'd like, the huge portions make it a steal. This is guaranteed to be your go-to falafel spot.


<strong>Where to get it: Tasty Polish Food</strong> (<a href="…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Belmont Central</em><br />
This Polish street food snack shop just off Belmont on Central serves up a number of Polish treats we'd consider the makings of essential post-bar food. Classic and vegetarian versions of the zapiekanka on fresh bread are up for grabs.


<strong>Where to get it: La Bomba</strong> (<a href="; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Logan Square</em><br />
While a number of Latin American eateries have picked up the jibarito for their menus since its inception, this popular Logan Square spot features the textbook version with thin, crispy plantains strong enough to hold everything together.


<strong>Where to get it: Emilio’s Tapas</strong> (<a href="…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Streeterville</em><br />
The Emilio's Tapas eatery Downtown offers a selection of deliciosos bocadillos for lunch: bocadillo de pollo y chorizo (grilled chicken breast and Spanish sausage with avocado, red onion arugula, and cumin mayonnaise), bocadillo de cebón (grilled steak with cabrales cheese and cava vinaigrette), and bocadillo de pescado (grilled fish with fresh basil, red onion, and tomato).

<strong>Where to get it: Tre Kronor</strong> (<a href="; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Albany Park</em><br />
This neighborhood Swedish restaurant offers the real taste and experience of Scandinavia, including its open-faced toast Skagen with an Arctic shrimp salad of the day on brioche.


<strong>Where to get it: Zizi’s Cafe</strong> (<a href="; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Lakeview</em><br />
Thanks to German-Turkish immigrants conceptualizing döner as a sandwich, it's now quite possibly the most popular post-bar street food all over Europe. But you don't have to go Eurotripping to get the melt-in-your-mouth meat. This Turkish restaurant dishes up arguably the best classic Turkish food in the city on house-baked bread.


<strong>Where to get it: Cafecito</strong> (<a href="; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>The Loop, South Loop</em><br />
While the cafe is most known for its variety of lunchtime staple Cuban sandwiches, you'll also find the Uruguayan chivito here. The steak is marinated in a signature mojo for at least 24 hours before it's loaded onto the sandwich... before the Virginia ham, bacon, fried egg, mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, onion, and citrus mayo are piled onto the French bread.


Venezuela: Arepa rellena

What is it? Prominent in both Venezuelan and Colombian culture, the various sized flatbreads made of ground maize dough are split to house a wide variety of ingredients, including shredded beef and cheese; chicken, avocado, and mayonnaise; and perico (often containing scrambled eggs, peppers, tomatoes, annatto, and onions).

Where to get it: La Cocinita (address and info)
Food truck
The food truck enterprise from New Orleans peddles Venezuelan cornmeal patties packed with juicy meats and cheese among its other Latin American street fare offerings. Build your own arepa rellena by picking a protein like braised pork and a zesty sauce like guasacaca (Venezuelan guacamole). Check its website calendar for its weekly location before you go.


<strong>Where to get it: Nhu Lan Bakery</strong> (<a href="; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Lincoln Square, Uptown</em><br />
By now, bánh mì is pretty much a go-to workday meal in larger American cities, and Chicago is no exception. With some of the best bánh mì hands down, this authentic bakery remains a pioneer in our fair city's Vietnamese sandwich hype. Its fresh-baked bread, accompanied by your choice of meat or tofu, pickled vegetables, jalapeños, and lots of cilantro, will have you taking advantage of the buy five, get one free special. And don't forget the Vietnamese coffee.<br />
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<a href="; target="_blank">Nicole Bruce</a> is a contributing writer for Thrillist. She travels the world one sandwich at a time. Find her on Twitter at <a href="; target="_blank">@nicoleabruce</a>.</em>