- Sample some of the world’s best street food including exotic savoury dishes such as takoyaki in Japan and ta’amiya in Egypt
- Delight in delicious desserts including firm favourites such as Italian gelato, French crêpes and Spanish churros
- Culinary inspiration and ideas to ditch the cutlery and dive straight into exciting and tasty global cuisine as you’ve never eaten before
Any enthusiastic traveller will know that visiting new destinations allows you to discover more about its culture and people, as well as the chance to sample tasty and unique local cuisine. While on escorted tours and river cruises, top chefs will create regional specialities for you to enjoy, but don’t miss out on trying delicious street food too. Here’s our list of 20 of the best street foods in the world that you need to try when travelling the globe.
20 of the world’s best street foods to taste
Grilled sardines, Portugal
Being beside the Atlantic Ocean, it’s no great surprise that sardines are a popular street food throughout Portugal. Every June in Lisbon, during a month-long festival, the city’s streets are filled with stall after stall selling fresh, salty, grilled sardines. Eat sandwiched in thick bread with a little garlic and olive oil. Delicious!
Bánh mì, Vietnam
A baguette is not the first street food you think of when choosing holidays to Vietnam, but if you’re in Saigon, perhaps before a Mekong river cruise, try bánh mi, a tasty snack that hails back to the city’s French colonial rule. Usually packed with grilled pork or chicken, the sandwich is served with crunchy cucumber, pickled carrots and mayonnaise or spicy chilli sauce.
Bunny chow, South Africa
Bunny chow, a popular South African street food that originated in Durban by the city’s Indian community, is a hollowed-out loaf of white bread laden to the brim with thick curry. Traditionally a chicken or mutton meal (not rabbit!), vegetarians don’t need to miss out as there’s a spicy bean alternative that’s every bit as tasty.
Thin pancake-like crêpes can be picked up at street food stalls all over France. For breakfast, wheat flour sweet crêpes are filled with fruit preserves, custard or Nutella. Prefer something more savoury? Then choose a buckwheat flour crêpe with ham, mushroom and tomato, or spinach and Gruyère cheese.
Bhel puri, India
Eating mouth-watering snacks at roadside stalls and food carts is often a highlight of holidays to India. Collectively called chaat, Indian street food gives you a flavour of the country’s intense spices and chutneys, with bhel puri, a popular dish in Mumbai, consisting of puffed rice mixed with vegetables, tomatoes and onions, served with tamarind sauce.
Egyptian falafels, otherwise known as ta’amiya, are a little different from the chickpea version we eat in the UK. Made from rich fava beans, balls are then rolled in toasted sesame seeds before being deep-fried. Wrapped in a flatbread or placed in pita bread, the palatable Egyptian street food is eaten with salad and tahini sauce. Try when you’re on a Wonders of the Nile cruise.
Chinese dumplings, China
Jiaozi or Chinese dumplings can be deep-fried, lightly pan-fried or boiled, but whatever way you want to eat this popular street snack, you’ll enjoy an authentic taste of China. Thinly rolled pieces of dough, jiaozi can be filled with pork and cabbage, shrimp or a variety of chopped vegetables, and are enjoyed with soy-based dipping sauces.
Pulled pork, USA
Don’t think buns in the US are only filled with beef burgers. Grab a snack while on holiday in the States and pulled pork will be on the to-go menu too. Loved by locals in the Deep South, especially in cities such as Memphis and Nashville where barbecue foods rule, slow-cooked shredded pork is stuffed into bread rolls and tacos or served with nachos and rice.
Although gelato is the Italian word for ice cream, the frozen desserts are not the same – a scoop of stracciatella or pistachio gelato is creamier, thicker and richer tasting than a traditional seaside cone. It’s also made with more milk, less cream and often no eggs, so the fat content is also less. Does that give us a good excuse to have two when on a holiday to Italy?
Katong laksa, Singapore
Buy a bowl of laksa – spicy rice noodles – at a Singapore street food stall and you’ll be given a spoon rather than chopsticks. The thick vermicelli is cut into short pieces so it’s easy to slurp, which is handy as you’ll want to savour every mouthful, not just of the cockles, prawns and fishcake, but the herb-filled coconut curry sauce too.
No cutlery is required if you’re tempted by tostadas in Mexico, though things could get messy as these fried, crispy tortillas are jammed packed with ingredients. Beef, chicken, pork or vegetables are generously topped with lettuce, onions, refried beans, tomato salsa, guacamole and cheese. It’s wise to grab a few napkins.
When visiting Spain and at some point during your holiday, you’re sure to try tapas. But what about churros? If you’ve got a sweet tooth, don’t miss out on snacking on this fried dough treat, predominantly strips of choux pastry that are dusted with sugar or cinnamon. And the best bit, you eat ‘con chocolate’ – yum!
This crispy grilled Turkish wrap, sold as street food in Istanbul and other popular holiday destinations, is a filling on-the-go flatbread, perfect for keeping hunger pangs at bay. With typical döner kebab ingredients inside, such as lamb or chicken, the dürüm will be topped with onions, lettuce and tomatoes, and served with a hot sauce.
Som tam, Thailand
Thai street food is among the most diverse in the world, and along every roadside, you’ll get a whiff of the most wondrous smells as chefs sit by their woks, cooking fresh made-to-order dishes. While pad Thai and kai jeow may tempt your taste buds, som tam, a basic yet tasty green papaya salad, is not to be overlooked. The local cuisine is addictively hot and deliciously crunchy.
More commonly found in Kraków than the rest of Poland (though you still may find a traditional blue street cart or two in other cities), the irresistible obwarzanek is a braided ring-shaped bread roll and an ideal morning snack. A bit of a cross between a pretzel and a bagel, it’s topped with poppy or sesame seeds and salt. They must be moreish as Kraków bakers produce up to 200,000 daily!
Germany serves up what is perhaps the most hearty street food around the world. Pork sausage is steamed, fried, cut into slices and doused in ketchup and curry powder. Next you can add your own seasoning, either more Indian spices or a potent chilli sauce. Each generous portion of currywurst is combined with chips or white bread for a truly filling dish. Make sure you’re hungry!
Found on street food stalls all over South America, empanadas are appetising stuffed pastries and are best eaten warm. In Chile, popular fillings include cheese, seafood such as crab and clams, and a savoury pino – a mix of ground beef, onions, black olives, raisins and a boiled egg. It’s the locals’ food of choice during September when the country celebrates its independence.
Travel to Japan and at small street food stalls, known as yatai, you’ll find ramen noodles, rice crackers and other Japanese dishes. Adventurous eaters should try takoyaki – battered fritters the size of golf balls that are stuffed with diced or minced octopus, spring onions and pickled ginger, then served piping hot. Slather a mayonnaise/Worcestershire-type sauce on top, and sprinkle with dried seaweed and fish flakes.
Many street food vendors in Peru’s capital Lima, and throughout the rest of the country, serve ceviche – chunks of fresh raw fish, traditionally sea bass, that’s been marinated in lime juice and mixed with salt, chilli peppers and onion. Guides on escorted tours to Peru will be able to recommend the best places to try local cuisine, or simply look for the stall with the longest queue.
Pommes frites, Belgium
According to the Belgians, they invented potato fries, not the French, so characterful fry carts are a frequent sight when touring around Belgium. The traditional street food is served in a paper cone, with a large dollop of mayonnaise, and few visitors can resist. If you’re a big fan, note that in the charming city of Bruges in Belgium there’s a pommel frite museum – it’s unique!
We hope this inspired you o try new dishes on your travels! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.