By Daniela Frendo, Epicure & Culture Assistant Editor
Wherever you go in the world, it’s hard to resist the aromatic smells of grilled meats and deep fried pastries wafting through the air. Street food brings people together and injects life into a place. While some of us may be wary of approaching cheap steaming food stalls, many budget travelers feast on inexpensive street bites and the more adventurous eaters want to know what’s the most exotic dish being cooked.
But street food isn’t just a quick and cheap meal; it is also a great way to meet locals and explore the local food culture.
Epicure & Culture has asked top travel and food bloggers to share their favorite street foods and recommend the best places for it. Here are 16 of the most delicious snacks you can find in big cities around the world.
1. Ausgezogene (Bavaria, Germany)
“My favorite street food is called “Ausgezogene.” While you will find these deep fried disks of sugared dough at almost any Bavarian bakery, nothing beats eating them at Oktoberfest. Strolling around the many sites of the famous beer festival while nibbling on Ausgezogene feels like heaven to me.
Many of my friends would probably complain that there is no cream or fruits to go along, but when it comes to street food I choose the simplest things. And to be fair, I hate finding half of my meal squeezing out on the sides to decorate my front and fingers.”
-Norman Schwarze from Années de Pèlerinage
2. Sisig (Angeles City, Philippines)
“After years of traveling around various continents, I finally found my favorite street food in the Philippines. Angeles City, one of the cities in the northern part of the Philippines, has a lot of its culture influenced by the Spaniards. You can easily fall in love with the food here. Angeleños love to be very creative and resourceful, and they cook really delicious food. Street food comes in all forms, from the simple pork barbecues, to chicken feet, intestines, and eggs.
My favorite is Sisig, a street snack and also the main dish of the city. It’s cooked with pork – face, ears, and other parts – mixed with onions, red chili peppers, and calamansi (the country’s local lemon, small but really sour). You can easily have a full meal, enjoyed with rice and beer. The best part is you can find a genuine and delicious Sisig dish for just $1-2.”
-Ruben Arribas from Gamin Traveler
3. Giovanni’s Shrimp Scampi (Hawaii)
“On the North Shore of the island of Oahu in Hawaii sits a true Hawaiian gem. Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck serves up delicious shrimp cooked and flavored just the way you like it.
Our favorite dish is the shrimp scampi in hot sauce, served with a generous portion of garlic rice! The food is made fresh to order from shrimps grown in nearby farms. Nothing beats a great shrimp dish after a morning surfing the famous North Shore waves!”
-Kevin Wagar from Wandering Wagars
4. The Beach Food In Rio (Brazil)
“My favorite street food is actually the beach food in Brazil. When you go to the beach in most Brazilian cities, especially Rio de Janeiro and nearby communities, you get a variety of options that make your day at the beach much more pleasurable. From corn on the cob to coalho cheese and empadas, açaí (berry considered a “super fruit” due to its antioxidant nature) to cuscuz (white pudding made from coconut, tapioca and sweetened condensed milk), coconut water (which is very different from the one common in other countries) and mate iced tea, you can spend the whole day at the beach and never get hungry or thirsty.
It’s hard to choose a favorite. Some vendors walk the whole beach while others are stationary. When I’m at the beach in Rio I have at least one savory and one sweet option everyday!”
-Renata Pereira from Renata Pereira
5. Street BBQ’s (Hanoi, Vietnam)
“Whilst traveling through Vietnam, it wasn’t just the people and the scenery that we fell in love with, but also the cuisine! I can still remember the dance of flavors and spices on my tongue. I think we over-ate on every meal there! Our favorite place for some truly delicious street food in Hanoi was on the very popular Beer Corner in the Old Quarter! The atmosphere there is buzzing with activity at dinnertime, and small plastic stools fill up the streets.
We loved the do-it-yourself BBQ-style street food, where they serve you a variety of meat, some lovely fresh veggies and loads of butter. You pretty much spend at least an hour just BBQing your own food. Truly a taste sensation overload!”
-Jolene and Andrzej Ejmont from Wanderlust Storytellers
6. Assam Laksa (Penang, Malaysia)
“Just like Char Koey Teow, Assam Laksa is another well-known Penang dish. It is a spicy dish consisting of smooth rice vermicelli and thick sour mackerel fish broth, garnished with lemongrass, raw vegetables, chili, and pineapples. It usually comes with a spoonful of sinfully delicious shrimp paste.
Most guidebooks list Ayer Itam Pasar as the best place to get a bowl of hot laksa, but in reality, you can’t go wrong with any old-school hawker stall (at least that’s what I think!).”
-Vivian from Miss Happy Feet
7. Curry Puffs (Singapore)
“One of Singapore’s absolute best street foods are curry puffs. These delicious, deep fried pastries contain a rich, spicy filling of curried eggs and potatoes. Of course, there are many variations of the curry puff. Some pastries are tastier than others, while others are flakier. My personal favorite is a spicy sardine filling, but I’ve even tried a sweet yam filling and a scrumptious chili crab one!
My go-to shop for curry puffs is Old Chang Kee, with outlets spread all across Singapore. Although their puffs are pricier than most (you can get puffs at 3 for SGD$1, but Old Chang Kee sells them at about SGD$1.20 each) you are guaranteed a delicious snack.”
-Annalisa from Singapore n Beyond
8. Vada Pav (Mumbai, India)
“My favorite street food is the one I get at home in Mumbai, India. The reason I love it so much is because it is incredibly diverse. It’s called Vada Pav and it’s like an Indian version of a burger. It’s a spiced potato patty stuffed inside a soft bread bun, slathered in spicy chutney and sometimes fried with green chili. There is also Pav Bhaaji, which is essentially a vegetable mixture of potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, peas, and peppers all mashed together, and cooked in spices and butter (until it’s almost like a stew).
Pav Bhaaji is served with hot, buttered bread. The best spot to indulge in all of this, apart from nearly every street corner in the city, is Girgaum Chowpatty Beach and its many food stalls.”
-Roxanne Bamboat from The Tiny Taster
By the way, while you’re there make sure to explore the delicious Parsi cafes in Mumbai, too!
9. Rice balls (Siem Reap, Cambodia)
“When I visited Siem Reap in Cambodia, I had some really tiny and delicious rice cakes in the street. These sweet treats are made with rice and coconut milk and can have a variety of fillings. I tried the ones with banana, and some with corn.
My advice is to actually wait a few minutes before eating them after they have just been prepared, as they are piping hot and can literally burn your mouth. Besides, when they are not as hot, they taste even better. When eating in the streets of Siem Reap, this is a lovely way to end a meal!”
-Claudia Tavani from My Adventures Across the World
10. Tunday Kebab (Lucknow, India)
“When it comes to street food in India, there is no other city quite like Lucknow in North India. Everything you buy and eat on the streets is going to be good, but there is one thing which beats them all — Tunday Kebab! Legend has it that back in the days the ruler of the region was toothless and had difficulty chewing food, so this kebab was especially made for him.
Made from finely minced meat, the kebab simply melts in your mouth.If you want to try out this delicious snack, walk into the oldest part of the city, Chowk, look for the shop Tunday Kababi, and ask for their signature kebab.”
-Siddhartha Joshi from Sid the Wanderer
11. Poutine (Quebec, Canada)
“We have traveled the world and tried dozens of street foods, but we think that when it comes to the best street food, nothing beats Canadian poutine! The dish, which originated in the province of Québec, is incredibly simple, consisting of just potato fries with cheese curds and hot gravy on top. The gravy melts the cheese, turning the fries into a delicious gooey goodness perfect for a chilly winter day, but also suitable as a late-night snack.
In Toronto, where we are from, you can find poutine served from many chip trucks in the Downtown District. For a more gourmet type of poutine, head over to Smoke’s Poutinerie with locations all across Canada and even some in the US.”
-Oksana and Max from Drink Tea & Travel
12. Pani Puri (India)
“The best street food I’ve ever had is Pani Puri, which is a common snack found across India, including in major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Gujarat, and Bangalore. This fried snack consists of boiled potato, green pulses, mint sauce, tamarind chutney and rock salt, and is dipped in tangy mint water for extra flavor.
Pani puris are healthy compared to another street snacks found in India. Apparently, they are also a great mood booster. You will find pani puris on any street in big cities, where they are also known as ‘Pani Puri wala’. If you are visiting India, you must try this delicious snack on the road.”
-Rutavi Mehta from Photo Katha
13. Jianbing (Shangai, China)
“Popular among locals for breakfast, Jianbing is a traditional Chinese crepe. This savory snack is made fresh on a hot plate and topped with hoisin sauce, chives, crispy crackers and – if you’re game – chili sauce. Fried on the hot plate and folded for serving, these crepes are crispy, but upon biting they melt in your mouth.
The best way to find these fried pockets of goodness? Wander down one of Shanghai’s alleyways, where you’ll find residents filling up on fresh breakfast for the day. Your local Jianbing seller will be set up on the side of the street with a round hot plate and surrounded by a collection of bowls and sauces.”
–Mae-Gene Yew from The Wandering Suitcase
14. Baklava (Turkey)
“My favorite food in the whole world is Turkish food. I could wander the streets of any Turkish town for days and never get bored! Those endless supplies of olives and breads, and the irresistible sweet treats like baklava, are the reason I keep visiting Turkey over and over again. Made from many layers of pastry, oozing with syrup and pistachios, baklava in my opinion is the most delicious of all street food – just try walking past a stall selling baklava and not get taken in!
On my first visit to Turkey I loved the food and people so much I ended up staying 2 months – safe to say I needed to go on a diet when I returned home. Eating food has such a community feel in Turkey; it is not just something to do because you are hungry – it’s a way to celebrate, make new friends and enjoy the amazing tastes. Yup, Turkey holds my food heart.”
-Sarah Richard from Coffee With A Slice Of Life
15. Stuffed Tacos (Playa Del Carmen, Mexico)
“Playa del Carmen, Mexico is known as a popular holiday destination. Besides tourist restaurants, there are plenty of great street food options for locals and curious visitors. I always ask locals for their best suggestions and one of the bell hops at my resort told me where to get the best chile relleno tacos.
When in Playa del Carmen, head to the Red Cross on Avenida Benito Juarez and you will find locals lining up for the taco cart. There are many different kinds of tacos, but the stuffed poblano ones are amazing. Like all great street food in Mexico, you know that an eatery is safe when the person cooking isn’t the same person who’s collecting money.”
-Ayngelina Brogan from Bacon is Magic
16. Lihapiirakka (Finland)
“I’ve lived in Finland for a decade now and so far, the best thing about going out during the weekend is having stuffed lihapiirakka for an after party. You’d be surprised how good this thing is! Lihapiirakka or meat pie is self-explanatory when you see it. It is quite similar to donut but instead of sweet, it is savory and filled with delicious minced meat. It is best eaten warm, either on its own or filled with other goodness, such as sausage, coleslaw and pickles.
Lihapiirakka is a traditional Finnish food and almost every Finn loves eating this, including myself! I prefer it as it is, with ketchup and mustard, but I don’t mind it filled with other goodies too, especially after a night out. You can find lihapiirakka in small kiosks or food trucks besides Helsinki railway station and they’re normally open only at nights.”
-Evan Kristine from Pretty Wild World
What other delicious street food around the world would you add to the list?
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