It’s hard to think of a menu category with more momentum than sandwiches. Operators have become increasingly creative with sandwiches, yet these dishes are still convenient and customer-friendly.
Sandwiches are versatile enough to count for breakfast, lunch or dinner, served hot or cold, dine-in or takeout, in sizes ranging from craveable little sliders to big knife-and-fork meals. And a good sandwich often represents a value alternative to a more conventional entree.
No wonder sandwiches have become so popular. According to Technomic, in fact, 43 percent of respondents in a 2014 study said they ate at least four sandwiches a week, from burgers and breakfast sandwiches to wraps and tacos. That means that for operators, there’s every reason to double down on the sandwich category.
Finding new inspiration
A good sandwich is more than the sum of its parts, offering a complete package of textures and flavors in every single bite. There are a number of ways to approach this, but here are a few ideas for more craveable sandwiches:
- Start with a traditional favorite and upgrade the components. Turkey on whole wheat can be elevated with smoked turkey or aioli or pesto instead of mayonnaise. Premium veggies such as San Marzano or Roma tomatoes complement the healthy appeal.
- Look to specialty ingredients such as Italian-style cold cuts, upscale cheeses such as Asiago or Brie, artisan-style mustards and relishes or distinctive breads such as oatmeal, carrot or jalapeno-cheese sourdough.
- Focus on texture as well as flavor. Whether it’s the crunch of celery or walnuts in tuna salad, a crisp vegetable garnish or the satisfying chew of a rustic bread, texture makes a sandwich more interesting
- Take inspiration from the world’s sandwich repertoire. Vietnamese banh mi, Mexican tortas, Middle Eastern flatbread sandwiches—all of these are becoming more popular. Many of these sandwiches start with distinctive breads, such as the crisp baguette that anchors the banh mi.
- Look to American regional sandwiches for ideas. From Louisiana po’ boys and Kentucky hot browns to South Jersey’s iconic fried bologna sandwiches, America has a robust tradition of sandwich specialties that can be reimagined for menus across the country.
- Be sure to offer a meatless option. An appealing egg-salad variation or a rustic grilled vegetable sandwich will appeal not only to vegetarians, but to anyone who’s craving something a little different. Vegetable-based sandwiches can also be designed to meet the needs of vegan customers.
- Don’t forget the sides. There are so many options beyond the boring side of chips, from flavorful marinated beets to freshly made grain salad or a cole slaw variation such as a broccoli slaw. Even a bag of specialty chips will make a better impression, as will offering the option of a side salad instead of fries.
Some of the best sandwich-makers in the country have these tasty options on the menu:
Subway: Chicken & Bacon Ranch Melt
Stuffed with melted Monterey cheddar cheese, tender all-white meat chicken, crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato, onions and green peppers
Mendocino Farms Sandwich Market: Peruvian Steak Sandwich
Spicy aji amarillo marinated steak with Oaxacan cheese, herb aioli, red onions, tomatoes, shredded romaine on panini-pressed torta bun
Which Wich: Superfood Wich
Vegan black bean patty, quinoa, jalapeno hummus and roasted red peppers with avocado
Wichcraft: Fried Eggs & Bacon
Gorgonzola and frisee on ciabatta roll
Cosi: Mediterranean Prosciutto
White beans, roasted fennel and parsnips, charred tomatoes, caramelized onions, and fennel pesto on flatbread
This post is sponsored by Euro-Bake