With an open-face sandwich, you can see exactly what you’re getting. The bread began as a tabula rasa. All the colors of its fillings lay right in front of you, and there is something about that visual pre-digestion that makes them so appealing. It’s like the epigraph before a short, delicious novella. Lest we continue waxing poetic about a sandwich, let’s get to the point: We’re here to show you 9 delicious open-face sandwiches from around the world.
What makes an open-face sandwich different from, say, a piece of toast and then some? It’s all about deliberation. An open-face sandwich takes your attention away from the textural interplay of crunchy bread and soft fillings, and keeps the focus on flavor and aesthetics. Open-face sandwiches are generally more refreshing than filling, though there are exceptions, such as eggs benedict or croque-madame. Many of the sandwiches on this list, such as Viennese belegte brote or Indian chilli cheese toast, are meant to be had with beer or tea.
We started thinking about open-face sandwiches propelled by an intense craving that came on after daydreaming about eating perfect, summery open-face sandwiches surrounded by peach trees on a porch in Georgia. We know of the origins of many of our favorite sandwiches, and while there is no particular origin of the open-face sandwich, there are many foreign countries, like Denmark and Sweden, that celebrate them as their own entities, instead of simply considering them half-sandwiches.
Sadly, some of these open-face sandwiches have fallen out of popularity and are not so commonly served at restaurants, though you can most certainly make items like Victorian Scotch Woodcock, or braised beef tongue to recreate a 1900-style American Tongue Toast at home.
Forgo that top bread and savor the mélange of flavors that look oh-so-ready to be devoured. Here are 9 open-face sandwiches that will let you do just that.
Avocado and Vegemite Toast (Australia)
Vegemite is an acquired taste, but under a blanket of avocado, its intense saltiness complements the mild, buttery taste of avocado perfectly. It’s the perfect starter dish for any traveler who wants to dine as the Australians, do but doesn’t want to suffer the full-on brackish taste of vegemite. Avocado toast is as common as flat whites in Australian coffee shops, but the best avo-vegemite toast outside a local’s kitchen is at Bondi Picnic in Sydney.
Belegte Brote (Austria)
These small open-face square bread sandwiches (translation: “occupied breads”) are a popular Viennese snack food. They're usually topped with some sort of mashed food, like egg salad or chicken liver, and pair well with a good, strong blonde beer. Trześniewski in Vienna sells them for € 1.20 ($1.29 USD) a pop.