27 Iconic Street Foods Every World Traveler Must Try Slideshow
Served in Japan, traditional ramen consists of thin, wheat noodles cooked in a meat- or fish-based broth. Flavored with soy sauce or miso, the dish is usually served with toppings such as sliced pork, dried seaweed, green onions, kamaboko (cured seafood), and corn. Die-hard ramen fans can even go to Shinyokohama Raumen Museum, a ramen museum in Yokohama, Japan.
The best place to try ramen is on Tokyo’s Ramen Street, a cluster of shops in the basement of Tokyo Station. Closer to home, check out Guchi’s Midnight Ramen in Boston.
Wikimedia / Stronglk7
Takoyaki, battered golf-ball-sized balls stuffed with octopus, are a typical street food in Japan. Made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special pan to shape the snack into a ball, the small, round treat is filled with diced or minced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion. Takoyaki are drizzled with okonomi sauce (similar to Worcestershire) or mayonnaise.
Juso, the red light district in north central Osaka, is the best place to try takoyaki, as it was invented in Osaka. Look for takoyaki stalls near the train station.
Wikimedia / Opponent
The signature street treat is Brussels is a paper cone filled with freshly fried frites. The piping hot, crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside, double-fried Belgium fries are ubiquitous, but the best are at Maison Antoine, a kiosk opened by Antoine Desmet and his wife in 1948.
The frites at Maison Antoine come with a choice of more than 25 sauces, from the simple ketchup to savory Provençale to spicy curry and pili-pili.
iStockphoto / Thinkstock
Originating in Québec, poutine is a classic street food of french fries topped with brown gravy and cheese curds. The comfort food is a staple on fast-food restaurant menus like international chains McDonald's, Burger King, and KFC, and at A&W's throughout Canada, but try poutine at Canadian quick-service restaurant Chez Ashton. South of the border, New York City’s best poutine can be found in bars and burger joints, or try making your own poutine with these poutine recipes.
Wikimedia / MTLskyline
Empanadas are hand-held pies stuffed with meat, cheese, or vegetables and surrounded by pastry dough that is baked or fried. El Sanjuanino in Buenos Aires serves some of the best empanadas in the capital.
Flickr / Shockingly Tasty
Currywurst is a popular German dish made of pork sausage that is steamed, then fried, cut into slices, and topped with warm curry ketchup. Often served with french fries or bread rolls, the popular street snack is easy to find. Try Konnopke’s Imbiss, the rumored originator of currywurst.
Flickr / Cyclone Bill
The bánh mì is based on the Parisian ham and pâté baguette sandwich, which was brought to the streets of Vietnam in the early 20th century during the French colonial period. A quintessential Vietnamese street vendor staple, the bánh mì, is a crusty French-style baguette stuffed with home-cured meats like pork belly or pork liver pâté, cilantro, pickled cucumber, carrot, daikon, chiles, and mayonnaise. Street vendors from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City sell the ubiquitous sandwiches, which have also been a favored lunch for decades. Bánhmì are easy to find, particularly near markets like the Dong Xuan Market in Hanoi.
Flickr / Jasoniam
Mango sticky rice is a popular dessert served in Thailand, especially during the mango season of April through June and during Thai New Year’s celebrations, but it is also eaten year-round. The sweet dish consists of a scoop of steamed sticky rice, a ladle of warm coconut milk, and a heap of sliced mangos. Street vendors all over Bangkok, especially across the street from the glittery Siam Paragon Mall and at Chatuchak Market, sell mango sticky rice from stainless steel carts.
Flickr / Permanently Scattter Brained
Kroketten are cylindrical croquettes made of meat ragout, which are breaded and deep-fried. While kroketten are sold in bakeries and restaurants, Amsterdam is also full of kroket vending machines. Grab some change, make a selection, and indulge in kroket from the vending machines at FEBO.
Flickr / Rhodes
A ubiquitous and cheap street food, yang rou chuan ()are fiery pieces of lamb, skewered and grilled over charcoal then basted in hot sauce made of cumin seed, dried pepper flakes, salt, and sesame. Though lamb is still the most common version of yang rou chuan, chicken, pork, beef, and various types of seafood are also found on the streets of Beijing (and sometimes fake meat masked by the spicy sauce is also used). Some of the best yang rou chuan are found outside of the bars and clubs on Sanlitun Bar Street in Beijing.
Flickr / Marc van der Chijs
Tanghulu is another skewered street snack popular in China and Taiwan. Peddlers on aging bicycles and tricycles cruise the streets of Shanghai with stalks of tanghulu on the back of their two- and three-wheelers. The sweet snack is various fruits strawberry and cherry tomato, and plum or hawthorn are the most traditional varieties coated in a hard sugar similar to candy apples. Other fruits including mandarin oranges, pineapples, kiwi, bananas, or grapes are becoming more popular.
Flickr / Inaba Tomoaki
The unappetizing name for this iconic street snack in Taiwan comes from its pungent odor. Chou doufu, or stinky tofu, is prepared in a brine made from fermented milk, vegetables, meat, and Chinese herbs. The tofu is left in the brine for up to several months before it is added to spicy Sichuan-style soups or, more popularly, served deep-fried. Cut into cubes, the crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside treat is topped with pickled cabbage and a spicy red sauce. The hamlet of Shenkeng, on the outskirts of Taipei, is the best place to try stinky tofu, though closer to the center of town night markets like Shilin Night Market and Lehua Night Market also have the tasty fried snack.
Flickr / Wootang01
The popular thin French pancake, usually made from wheat (crêpes de Froment) or buckwheat flour (galette), originated in Brittany in northwest France. The batter is spread onto a billig, a big, round cast-iron griddle, and spread in a circular motion with a rozell, a wooden utensil. Sweet crêpes dusted with sugar or topped with freshly sliced fruit and savory versions stuffed with meats and cheeses are folded into cones and sold in crêperies across France, including Fleur de Blé Noir crêperie inSaint-Quay Portrieux, where visitors can take a crêpe-making classand eat the results.
Flickr / Mahastsorri
Pasteis de nata are small egg tarts with a custard-like consistency, often served with powdered sugar or cinnamon sprinkled on top. Originally from Portugal, the flaky treat was brought to the former Portuguese enclave. The bakers at Lord Stow's Bakery and Café in Coloane Town Square serve hundreds of pasteis de nata fresh out of the oven from dawn to dusk.
Wikimedia / Jpatokai
Often imitated, gelato is an Italian term that means "frozen." The history of the dessert is rooted in 16th-century Italy, where, according to many accounts, a Florentine named Bernardo Buontalenti presented his gelato creation to the royal court of Caterina dei Medici. Gelato differs from ice cream in its flavor and texture. The frozen dessert is made with milk as opposed to cream, which gives the dish a lower fat content, and has less air whipped into it than ice cream, making it denser and often more intense in flavor. One of the best places to sample the treat — from affogato al café (ice cream drowned in espresso) to zuppa inglese (trifle) — is La Cremolose in Palermo.
Flickr / Brian and Jaclyn
Best enjoyed dockside, fresh peel-and-eat shrimp are a popular treat in the Norwegian capital.Shrimp by the bagful can be bought at the Fisherman’s Coop or at the new Mathallen food hall.
Flickr / Weissersteir
No doubt Americans like their hot dogs. The "Hot Dog Nation" has dozens of regional varieties but the capital of Hot Dog Nation is arguably New York City, which serves its "dirty water dog" on almost every street corner in popular tourist areas around Manhattan. Given their nickname due to the warm water bath that the all-beef hot dogs in natural casings are kept in, NYC hot dogs are boiled or griddle-cooked and served on a steamed bun with condiments such as ketchup, mustard, relish, sauerkraut, and sweet chopped onions. You don’t have to walk far to find one, but if you want to pass on the cart, Gray’s Papaya and Papaya King takeout joints are perennially popular.
Flickr / Tony Fischer Photography
The walking taco, a bag of corn chips filled with canned chili and fixings, is a staple of fundraisers all across small town America, according to Andrew Zimmern, who ranks it as one of America’s Top 9 Most Bizarre Foods. Some are good, but most are inedible, says Zimmern. It's commonly found in Smallville, USA but baseball fans can order it at Target Field, home to the Minnesota Twins, in Minneapolis.
Flickr / Benimoto
No trip to Vienna is complete without trying a Vienna sausage, a long, thin frankfurter served on a bun and topped with condiments like mustard and sauerkraut. Locals flock to Schwedenplatz square where Viennese sausage carts populate the bustling square, including one from a famous opera singer whose cart serves gourmet sausages.
Flickr / Kadluba
Nestled between two slices of soft white bread, the juicy and slightly salty pani ca’ meusa (spleen sandwich) is Sicily’s signature sandwich. The best place to try the sandwich is from a small storefront on Via Cala near Porta Carbone in Palermo.
Wikimedia / Magnus Manske
A staple of street-side vendors and small shop owners, shawarma is an inexpensive fast-food meal found throughout the Middle East. Lamb, chicken, or other meats are stacked with layers of fat and placed on a vertical spit and grilled for hours. Once ready, vendors shave slices of the tender meat onto pita and pile on a variety of toppings like cucumbers, tomato, onion, pickled turnip, toum, tabbouleh, fattoush, tahini, or hummus. Some vendors also stuff french fries into the shawarma. Some of the best places to try shawarma are markets like stiklâl Caddesi and Baliki Pazari.
Flickr / Kriskaer
While fish and chips has become synonymous with the U.K., the origin of this mainstay of more than 150 years is not so "British." The chips, or french fries, originated in France or Belgium, and fried fish was introduced to Britain by Portugal and Spain, according to the BBC. Enterprising Brits decided to serve battered cod or haddock and chips together in the mid-1800s. Traditional fish and chips were wrapped in old newspaper to save money, but nowadays grease-proof paper is put between the greasy snack and the newspaper, or specially designed paper with faux newspaper print is used. Fish and chips is such a treasured treat in Britain that it was one of the few foods that was not rationed during World War II. Fish and chips is served with salt and vinegar, tartar sauce, or ketchup, and sometimes a side of mushy peas.
Flickr / Schroder+Schombs PR Brands
The popular utensil-free Mexican dish comes in many varieties including fish, carne asada, tacos al pastor (marinated pork that is cooked on a vertical spit and often served with pineapple), and even tacos de lengua (beef tongue) and tacos cabezas (beef head cheek). Though you can find tacos on any corner in Los Cabos, take The Daily Meal’s Los Cabos Taco Tour, featuring 10 tacos to try.
Flickr / Rfung8
Vada pav, a spicy, deep-fried potato patty sandwiched between a bread roll, is a street food staple from Maharashtra in Western India. One of the best places to try vada pav is the vada pav chain Jumbo King, a chain with more than 30 restaurants in India open by husband and wife Dheeraj and Reeta Gupta.
Flickr / lawtonjm
Bunny chow (or simply "bunny" to locals) is a street food beloved by surfers in South Africa. Bunny chow is Durban curry, made with lamb or mutton, stuffed into a quarter, half, or full loaf of unsliced white bread with a hollowed-out middle. Chicken and beans are also used as well. Sandy’s Pot & Grill sells some of the best bunny chow from its oceanfront takeaway in Durban North.
Waffles are the signature dessert of Belgium, originating with a recipe from the Middle Ages when waffles were sold as unleavened crisp cakes made of barley and oats baked in a wafer iron. The Brussels waffle (one of two types of waffles in Belgium) is what is universally known as the Belgian waffle.
Located near Grand Place Square, Maison Dandoy has been in business since 1829. The shop serves an array of Belgian treats, including Belgian waffles topped with chocolate, whipped cream, or sugar.
Wiki / Ssolbergj
There are several stories about the origins of tamales in the Mississippi Delta, a leaf-shaped alluvial plain in Western Mississippi defined by the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers. Some say tamales were introduced during the U.S.-Mexican War, while others contend Mexican migrant workers brought tamales with them when they came to work the cotton fields. Still others contend the tamale was always in the area, with Native Americans making the snack. No matter its origins, the tamale is a staple of snack foods here.
Enthusiasts can tour the Southern Foodways Alliances Tamale Trail. A tamale here is smaller than Latin-style ones. Traditionally made with boiled or browned pork (but beef and turkey are also used) and masa or cornmeal and wrapped inside a corn husk, the bundles are simmered and have a grittier texture than those made south of the border. Some even fry their hot tamales here.
Abes BBQ serves bundles of hot tamales along with its famous barbecued pork, beef, and ribs at the fabled crossroads of highways 49 and 61 (where blues pioneer Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil in return for prowess on the guitar.
Flickr/Southern Foodways Alliance