If the back end of the 20th century’s culinary personality was dominated by discovery—of new foods and spices and cooking styles—then the 21st century so far is about liberation: unfettering familiar foods so they adopt those new influences and become richer. Nowhere has this been more evident than with sandwiches. Like burgers and soups and other previously predictable categories, sandwiches are being continually reborn.
At the same time, the definition of a sandwich has broadened and globalized. It now includes Mexican cemitas and tortas, falafel in pita bread, Spanish bocadillos, piadas wrapped in Italian thin-crust dough and more.
Gathered here are 50 examples of how a sandwich can be defined by creative culinary minds. All have been on menus in the past year, either as permanent additions or limited-time offers.