World's Best Cities for Street Food

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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.

Whilst in Ho Chi Minh City a banh mi sandwich is an absolute must

intrepid travel

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.

Honolulu, Hawaii

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).

Myeong-Dong street food market in Seoul

For something sweet, treat yourself to Myeong-dong’s pastel-coloured soft serve ice cream that stands a foot tall on your cone!

Berlin, Germany

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

Rumour has it that in Louisiana a plate lunch from a gas station or convenience store beats food coming out of some of the country's finest restaurants.
Traditionally plate lunches were all about comfort food like red beans and rice, served with andouille sausage and a heavily buttered slice of French bread. Or perhaps a muffuletta from Central Grocery, famous for the sandwiches brought in by Sicilian immigrants.
That being said, the latest wave of migration has helped entrench taqueria trucks and pho noodles just as firmly into the city's street food scene.

Beijing, China

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.

The Beijing street food scene is a sensory overload according to Nicolas Alexander

project pengyou

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

Home to the humble Cubano sandwich. Ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard, toasted like a Panini to fill the mouth with crunchy, chewy, savoury goodness. Need I say more?
Nicolas Alexander highly recommends a Cubano sandwich next time your in Miami

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. 

Mexican street food offers an explosive fusion of flavours at every turn

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.

Istanbul, Turkey

Instanbul's street food offerings extend far beyond and that is thanks to the many people from around the country who migrate to the city.  While Turkish cuisine is known for sweeter items such as Turkish delight and baklava, Istanbul’s food markets also offer up an array of mouth-watering savoury options.
The most recognisable is probably simit, which is like a cross between a bagel and a pretzel. Freshly baked, dipped in molasses and crusted with sesame seeds, these enticing snacks can be grabbed from almost any street side push-cart.
According to Nicolas Alexander, a simit is the perfect savoury snack to enjoy whilst exploring the streets of Istanbul
There is also durum, which is basically a kebab turned into wraps and of course
Turkish pizza, properly called lahmacun, presents a simple but satisfying meal at all hours of the night. 

Cartagena, Colombia 

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.

Bangkok, Thailand

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.

Nicolas Alexander believes that Bangkok has some of the best street food in the world

Sidewalk vendors in different parts of the city operate on a fixed rotation, with some taking care of the breakfast crowd with sweet soymilk and bean curd, while others dish up fragrant rice and poached chicken for lunch.
If you’re keen to sample many foods in one shot, head to a concentrated area like Yaowarat (Chinatown), Wang Lang Market, or Victory Monument, where  classic dishes like hoy tod, a crispy omelette filled with shellfish and topped with a chilli sauce, and mu daeng for barbecued pork and sticky rice, await!

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