While food trucks have been steadily gaining popularity here in the United States, the concept of street food has been around for thousands of years. The origin of street food can be traced as far back as ancient Rome, where poor urban families (without stoves or kitchens) relied on the availability of staples like grain paste or nourishing chickpea stew.
Over time, street food has become a way for locals and travelers alike to experience new cuisines, grab a quick bite on the run, or to find an inexpensive meal in a social setting. Here’s our list of the top global cities where street food reigns supreme.
A food lover’s paradise, Bangkok’s open air markets offer everything from noodle dishes and fish curries to durian, Thailand’s notoriously stinky fruit.
Shwarma might be Istanbul’s most well-known street food, but don’t miss out on the simit, a bagel-like bread covered in sesame seeds.
Singapore, Southeast Asia
Singapore’s rapid rise in popularity is due in part to its cuisine, making it a top destination for foodies. Finding influence from China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia, the hawker stalls serve a diverse arrangement of dishes, including laksa, Hokkein mee (fried prawn noodles) and the ever present chicken rice.
Ho Chin Minh City, Vietnam
There’s no better place to try the street food staple of pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup served with beef or chicken.
Mexico City, Mexico
Referred to as “antojitos” (which translates literally into “little cravings”), Mexico City is famed for their elotes (roasted corn on the cob) and tlacoyos, a type of cornmeal cake.
The main square of Marrakesh, Djemma el Fna, is essentially an enormous food cart offering up some of Morocco’s best food. Try their fresh-squeezed orange juice or seasoned meat kebabs.
While a variety of global cuisine is available street-side in this cosmopolitan capital, the most authentic Berlin experience most likely includes a currywurst—a sliced sausage smothered in house-made curry ketchup and served with a side of fries.
The vada pav is a popular one-the-go option in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Made of liberally spiced, deep-fried mashed potato patties and served on a bun, the snack is often referred to as Indian Burgern—despite the fact that it’s vegetarian friendly.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The unassuming stroopwafel may have humble origins (according to legend they were invented out of bakery leftovers) but a taste of heaven can be found within its crispy layers—ooey gooey caramel syrup. Forgo the store-bought versions and find a street stall that serves them hot off the iron.
What’s the best street food you’ve eaten and where did you get it? Tell us in the comments, or email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org!