From its humble beginnings to a burgeoning culinary revolution, street food has exploded in popularity over the last few years.
Street food is big business in major cities around the world. This trendy phenomenon began in Asia and is now a popular culinary choice worldwide.
Food can help us connect to a destination and serve as a gateway to better understanding people, history, and culture. What better way to get to know a new city than sampling its selection of incredible street food?
In the heart of Thailand’s dynamic capital, Bangkok, the streets come alive with a culinary symphony of flavours. From the iconic Pad Thai, a savoury stir-fried noodle dish, to the aromatic and spicy Tom Yum Goong soup, Bangkok’s street food offerings are a feast for the senses. Take advantage of the vibrant markets of Yaowarat Road, where you can feast on grilled satay skewers and crispy spring rolls, showcasing the diversity of Thai street cuisine.
New Orleans, USA
New Orleans’ street food reflects the city’s rich Creole and Cajun culinary heritage. Sink your teeth into a po’ boy sandwich loaded with fried seafood or tender roast beef, or relish a plate of spicy jambalaya, a hearty rice dish packed with flavour. Don’t miss the famous beignets, fluffy doughnuts dusted with powdered sugar, at Café du Monde.
Tokyo’s street food scene is a delightful journey into Japanese cuisine. Sample takoyaki, octopus-filled dough balls, served piping hot and drizzled with tasty sauces. Experience the umami explosion of yakitori, skewered and grilled chicken, or try tempura – where delicate seafood and vegetables are lightly battered and fried to perfection.
Marrakech’s medina is a tantalizing labyrinth of spices and exotic aromas. While exploring the narrow alleys, you’ll encounter food stalls serving Moroccan classics like fragrant lamb tagine and fluffy couscous. The famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square transforms into a vibrant open-air eatery by night, where locals and visitors gather to relish kebabs, stuffed pastries, and steaming bowls of harira soup.
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City’s streets are a gastronomic paradise, offering an array of authentic Mexican delights. Tantalize your taste buds with tacos al pastor, where marinated pork is sliced straight from the vertical rotisserie, or indulge in tlayudas – crispy tortillas loaded with savoury toppings. For a truly immersive experience, visit the lively markets of La Merced or Mercado Jamaica.
The enchanting city of Istanbul bridges two continents, and its street food mirrors this decadent fusion of cultures. Savour the succulent flavours of döner kebabs, a Turkish classic, try grilled mackerel or dig into a fragrant and hearty portion of köfte – grilled meatballs. Look out for street vendors selling simit, a sesame-coated bread ring – perfect for a quick snack.
In the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the streets are packed with culinary delights and the smells of sizzling street food. Sample the city’s signature dish, pho – a fragrant noodle soup infused with aromatic herbs and tender slices of beef or chicken. Banh mi stalls offer French-inspired Vietnamese sandwiches filled with a medley of flavours and remember to try the crispy spring rolls known as nem ran.
Seoul, South Korea
Seoul’s street food scene is a testament to the country’s culinary prowess. Tuck into delectable dishes like tteokbokki, chewy rice cakes in a spicy sauce, or savour the savoury and crispy bindaetteok mung bean pancakes. Food carts selling odeng, skewered fish cakes, are also common, offering a tasty snack on the go.
London, United Kingdom
London’s street food culture has seen a remarkable resurgence in recent years. Head to Borough Market to savour gourmet dishes like artisanal grilled cheese sandwiches and succulent pulled pork buns. Take advantage of the global flavours of Camden Market, where you can feast on everything from Ethiopian injera to Japanese okonomiyaki.
Singapore’s legendary hawker centres offer diverse flavours and street food specialities. Feast on Hainanese chicken rice, where succulent poached chicken is served with fragrant rice and chilli sauce. Try the char kway teow, stir-fried flat rice noodles with prawns and egg, or a plate of laksa – a spicy coconut noodle soup.
Düsseldorf’s historic streets offer a taste of German culinary traditions. Try hearty currywurst, a sliced sausage drenched in a tangy curry sauce, or indulge in flammkuchen, a crispy Alsatian-style pizza topped with cream, onions, and bacon. Don’t forget to explore the Carlsplatz Markt – the oldest still active market in Dusseldorf, for artisanal cheeses and freshly baked pretzels.
Lima, the culinary capital of Peru, offers a dazzling array of street food delights. Try the iconic ceviche, where fresh seafood is marinated in zesty lime juice and grab a crispy churro. To taste Peru’s diverse cuisine, visit the vibrant stalls of Surquillo Market. Another local street food snack is Anticucho de Corazon – beef heart skewers.
Hong Kong’s lively streets are a culinary paradise with a unique blend of Cantonese and international flavours. Try the popular dim sum dishes at street-side tea houses, savour the aroma of roast duck hanging in storefronts, or dig into a steaming bowl of wonton noodle soup. Mong Kok’s street markets also offer an array of street snacks, from fish balls to stinky tofu.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Colombo’s street food is a tantalizing journey through Sri Lankan cuisine. Taste the spicy and aromatic kottu roti, a stir-fried mix of flatbread, vegetables, and meat or seafood. Satisfy your cravings with hoppers, bowl-shaped rice pancakes served with various flavorful toppings, or try string hoppers and delicate rice noodle nests.
In the birthplace of pizza, Naples’ streets are an ode to Italian gastronomy. Sink your teeth into a traditional Pizza Fritta (Fried Pizza). These crispy pizzas are made with an Italian fried dough and then topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Make sure also to sample fried seafood ‘Cuoppo’ and sweet sfogliatella pastry – a delicious dessert layered with ricotta and candied orange peel.
Portia has spent years traversing the globe and having many misadventures. She now works as a freelance travel journalist, editor of Pip and the City and hosts the Travel Goals Podcast. She specialises in adventure travel, destination guides and city breaks. Her work has appeared in The Times, National Geographic and Lonely Planet. She can normally be found hiking, swimming outdoors in icy waters, or drinking coffee in bougie cafes.