Spanish Sandwich Invasion
As much as I enjoy keeping up with American brands permeating the universe (good luck to Spam positioning itself as luxurious in China) I get most excited about foreign chains staking claims on US soil and attempting to pushing their fast food on us.
The latest venture is Spain’s 100 Montaditos, selling inexpensive 5” sandwiches. Can ingredients like thinly sliced chorizo or blue cheese between crispy rolls compete with five-dollar foot-longs? So metric.
Up until now I was only familiar with chains Pans & Company and Bocatta, which I have patronized in Spain despite the availability of montaditos at most run-of-the-mill tapas bars (above is a typical version, jamon and green pepper, from a random courtyard bar in Bilbao–I stopped by Pans & Company afterward because I needed to use the bathroom and ended up buying another sandwich). So far, the company has one branch in Miami, plans for Union Square and then total US domination. Seriously, 4,000 American restaurants over the next five years is certainly ambitious.
I am particularly interested in how they’ve localized the menu for the US. 100 Montaditos does serve alcohol in Miami, but the cheapest glass of wine is $3.50, inexpensive but not Spain inexpensive, i.e. 1.50 euro ($2.14) a glass. I’m glad to see they’ve also kept the tinto verano (red wine and Sierra Mist). Olives, chips and French fries with dipping sauces are served in both countries as sides while the nachos were dropped for the US.
We also are missing some of the more esoteric of the 100 sandwiches like the sweet and sour pork with Chinese salad, the Mexican one with veal and salsa, those with gulas, a.k.a. baby eels. In exchange, we’ve gained, pulled pork, hummus and sweeter sandwiches employing peanut butter, jam and cream cheese as well as one that contains squares of Hershey’s Cookies and Cream bar. I guess Americans like bbq, candy and mashed chickpeas?