Sidewalk vendors, push carts, holes in the wall, elbow-to-elbow crowds, the smoke from sizzling grills, street food is the ultimate in casual dining and an overloaded sensory window into the culinary heritage of a hungry metropolis.
In our latest blog, we look at some of the best cities in the world for street food.
Let's get stuck in!
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Some say that a perfect afternoon in Ho Chi Minh City is spent sitting on a plastic stool on the sidewalk, enjoying a steaming bowl of pho, whilst watching the traffic chaos whirl around you.
Banh mi sandwiches are another Vietnamese street food exported successfully around the world. Here the baguette can be filled with a diverse selection of meats including pate, sausage and shredded pork skin.
For the best people watching, Pham Ngu Lao Street has a place that serves BBQ pork and rice, close to many popular sites like the Ben Tranh Market and the Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum.
Hawaiian cuisine is a concoction of its cultural heritage, fusing influences from Polynesia, Asia and the Americas. The best way to get amongst this unique offering is to rent a car and explore the whole island of Oahu, as some of the best markets and food trucks can be found along roadsides.
On your travels, you can tuck into poke bowls and fiery shrimp plates, or maybe some loco moco, which is burger patties served on a bed of rice, topped with gravy and a fried egg.
If you’re in the capital be sure to stop by Kaka’ako Park for the “Eat the Street” food truck rally, which takes place on the last Friday of each month.
Seoul, South Korea
Famous for its BBQ-fried chicken and fried meats, street food in Seoul showcases a different side to the city.
Loads of street carts dot heaving shopping areas like Myeong-dong, but you can also find amazing indoor markets chockablock with standalone vendors. Most specialize in one dish, be it gyeran-bbang (sweet egg bread), gimbap (Korean sushi), mandu (steamed dumplings) or haemul pajeon (seafood pancakes).
For something sweet, treat yourself to Myeong-dong’s pastel-coloured soft serve ice cream that stands a foot tall on your cone!
Meat, meat, and more meat. For years, it was the traditional currywurst that dominated the Berlin street food scene. However, nowadays, the offerings are as diverse as the city itself.
Situated in a renovated train station bathroom underneath the U-Bahn tracks, Bürgermeister is a popular street-food spot. Come for delicious burgers, but be prepared for long waiting times. If queueing isn’t for you, delve beyond the meat stalls to find countless vegetarian Vietnamese and Turkish vendors.
On Hasenheide, Hamy Café has delicious meat-free options, while Nachtigall on Ohlauer Strasse offers crispy falafel wraps and creamy lentil curries.
Louisiana, New Orleans
Despite recent crackdowns on food stalls, the Beijing street food scene still burns bright. In the belly of Gulou Dongdajie, Beijing’s oldest neighbourhood, food stalls and markets are peppered with well-preserved traditional hutongs.
Order jianbing, a soft pancake cooked on a grill, filled with spring onions, egg, soybeans and a crispy wonton cracker covered in a sweet-and-spicy hoisin sauce.
For the more daring, you should head to Wangfujing to test your mettle against scorpions, spiders and chicken foetuses.
Miami, United States
Mexico City, Mexico
Food stalls in Mexico City have seriously upped their game with constant migration to the capital from around the country resulting in new and interesting stalls popping up all the time.
Tacos are just the tip of the iceberg! There is tortas, tamales, tlacoyos, sopes, huaraches, flautas, tortas, chilaquiles, chicharrones…the list goes on and on.
the woks of life
Sonora Street Food serves the best burritos; order burro percherón for decadent fillings of grilled meat, avocado and melted cheese, or head to Los Parados for the best meat tacos in town.
At the weekend, head to Parque San Alvaro in Claveria. Hailed as the ideal hangover cure, this place serves barbacoa, which is slow-cooked lamb with consomme and chickpeas, stuffed into handmade tortillas.
Whether you’re exploring the old walled city on foot or venturing to a locals-only market farther afield, Cartagena de Indias’ street food is fascinating because it’s a hybrid of Spanish, Caribbean, African, and South American influences.
You will find that vendors here are typically expert in one dish and one dish only, be it little cups of ceviche drenched in red cocktail sauce, cheese-filled arepas (think cornbread pancake) or garlicky fried patacones.
As the day comes to a close and it's time to chill out, head to Plaza de Trinidad and grab yourself a refreshing serving of mango pulp and vodka.
Despite the recent shutdown of a number of major food thoroughfares by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, it is still impossible to avoid street food in Bangkok.