Restaurant Street Food Trends: A World of Sandwich Choices

Sandwiches, of course, are the quintessential handheld food. Sandwiches have everything customers look for; made of mainstream ingredients with familiar flavors, they can be exciting with lots of personality and are appropriate for full-service sit-downs as well as grab-and-go or takeout.

Latin Torta
This is yet another example of a street-food sandwich that has crossed the border. Instead of a tortilla, tortas use a burillo roll—sort of a hybrid of a Kaiser roll and a hamburger bun. These hearty rolls are substantial enough to hold generous fillings without making a mess. Ground-beef taco meat, carne asada, shredded pork carnitas, and mole chicken are just a few of the Latin-style proteins that can fill a torta. Layered with tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, fresh or grilled onions, spicy mayonnaise, and flavorful cheese, these overstuffed sandwiches are the ultimate in comfort food.

Cuban Frita
Made of ground beef and chorizo, this sandwich is served burger-style on a bun and topped with a julienne of fried potatoes and “pink sauce”—typically a combination of ketchup and mayonnaise. Try putting your own stamp on it with a signature sauce, something like a Russian dressing, and a proprietary custom blend of ground beef, pork, and chorizo.

Colombian Perro
This sandwich features interesting parallels to the very American hot dog. Grilled, sautéed, or braised meats are stuffed into an oversize hot dog bun and garnished with something that might be considered pedestrian— potato chips ground into coarse granules and used as a topping to add crunch. This has a certain playful element that I love, and it begs for creative innovation. I imagine these sandwiches topped with a Latin-style melting cheese like queso panela or pepper Jack, and a creamy drizzle of flavored mayonnaise or sour cream. If the ground potato-chip topping seems too lowbrow, try substituting crisp shoestring potatoes or extremely thin, fried onion rings.

Integrating Street Food for Restaurants
From tacos to tortas, Asian fusion and a South American take on the hot dog, the explosion of ethnic street food into the American mainstream is a promising trend that I believe will continue to grow in popularity.

By combining bold flavors and playful components into a neatly wrapped package of comfort food, these handheld treats have broad appeal. With a little creativity, they can inspire menu items that satisfy customer demand for exciting new options without compromising your restaurant’s identity.