You haven’t truly experienced a city until you’ve tasted its street food. Forget fancy white tablecloths and Michelin stars – the real culinary magic happens on the sidewalks and alleyways of the world’s great food capitals. Whether it’s fish tacos in Mexico City, jianbing crepes in Beijing, or currywurst in Berlin, street food offers a thrilling taste of local culture for just a few dollars. So grab some napkins, loosen your belt, and get ready to chow down on the world’s most delicious street eats. From Tokyo to Marrakesh, we’ve tracked down the very best street food havens on the planet. No passport required – just bring your appetite for adventure and an empty stomach. The open-air buffet awaits! Dig in.
Tacos in Mexico City, Mexico
Nothing beats authentic street tacos in Mexico City! The smells, the sights, the flavors – it’s a fiesta for your senses.
You’ll find tacos everywhere in Mexico City, from upscale restaurants to street carts. But for the real deal, head to the city center. At Tacos Gus, you’ll find locals lining up for al pastor – marinated pork sliced from a giant rotating spit. The meat is so juicy and full of chili and citrus flavors, you’ll want seconds!
At El Huequito, they’ve been making tacos al pastor since 1959. Order a plate of their signature adobada tacos, with handmade corn tortillas, salsa, cilantro, and lime. The secret is in their homemade chili paste and pineapple marinade. Your taste buds will thank you!
For the adventurous eater, Tacos de Canasta Los Especiales is calling your name. They offer exotic fillings like beef cheek, tongue, and brain. The tripe and sausage tacos are also hugely popular. Grab a basket of fresh tortillas and dig in – you only live once!
No trip to Mexico City is complete without devouring as many street tacos as humanly possible. The intoxicating smells, the vibrant energy, the culinary delights around every corner – what more could you want? Viva la tacos!
Crepes in Paris, France
A trip to Paris isn’t complete without devouring a freshly made crepe from one of the city’s charming street carts. Crepes are Paris’ version of fast food, and once you’ve tasted your first bite of the warm, buttery goodness, you’ll be hooked!
- Head to the Latin Quarter, where crepe carts line the cobblestone streets. Here you’ll find both sweet and savory options, from Nutella and banana to ham and cheese. Don’t be afraid to ask for a combo of fillings—the vendors are crepe experts and know how to combine flavors for maximum deliciousness.
- For a real treat, try a crepe suzette, where the crepe is doused in an orange sauce and flambéed tableside. The caramelized sugar and citrus make this a dessert you won’t soon forget.
- If you want an extra special experience, visit Creperie Brocéliande in Montparnasse. This cozy restaurant has been making crepes since 1957, and with over 50 fillings to choose from, you may have to come back more than once! Owner Monsieur Brocéliande still mans the griddle, so you know you’re getting an authentic taste of Paris.
A warm crepe in the City of Light—could there be anything more blissful? Let the sweet aromas and lively atmosphere transport you. Take your time savoring each flavorful bite. And don’t forget to say “merci!” to the vendor who made your Parisian treat possible. A perfect crepe in Paris is a moment you’ll cherish for years to come!
Dumplings in Shanghai, China
Shanghai is a dumpling lover’s paradise. These delicious bundles of joy can be found on nearly every street corner, filled with a variety of meats and vegetables. Dumplings are meant to be eaten by the dozen, so come with an empty stomach!
One of the most popular varieties are xiao long bao, or soup dumplings. These dumplings are filled with minced pork and broth, so be very careful when eating them—the broth will gush out upon first bite! Sip the broth from the dumpling before devouring the rest. Other types like hun tun and baozi are also ubiquitous. Hun tun have a vegetable and pork filling, while baozi can contain anything from pork to pumpkin to red bean paste.
The best places to sample Shanghai’s dumpling delights are at small family-run establishments that have been perfecting their recipes for generations. Look for places with long lines of locals—that’s always a good sign the food will be top notch. A few recommendations would be Jia Jia Tang Bao, Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant, and Yang’s Fried Dumplings. At any of these spots, you really can’t go wrong.
When eating dumplings, be sure to dip them in black vinegar and chili oil for extra flavor. And don’t forget to order a side of Shanghai’s famous xiao long bao soup to sip on between bites. The combination of soft dumplings bursting with flavor and rich broth is unbeatable.
Shanghai’s dumplings are meant for sharing, so grab some friends and dig in. Whether for breakfast, lunch or a late-night snack, dumplings are always a good idea. They are the ultimate Chinese comfort food and a delicious way to experience the vibrant culture of Shanghai. Once you get a taste, you’ll be planning your return trip!
Kebabs in Istanbul, Turkey
The Aroma of Grilled Meat Fills the Air
The tantalizing smell of grilled lamb, chicken, and beef kebabs waft through the streets of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city. Kebabs are arguably the most popular street food here, with vendors setting up carts and grills along sidewalks and in open squares to feed hungry locals and tourists alike.
Choose Your Filling
Whether you prefer lamb, beef, chicken, or a mix of meats, the kebab man will load metal skewers with bite-sized pieces of your chosen protein. Lamb is traditional and flavorful, while chicken is lighter. Can’t decide? Get a mix of everything with an iskender kebab. The meat is usually marinated in a blend of olive oil, lemon juice, and spices like oregano, mint, and chili before being grilled to perfection.
Add Some Veggies
Peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and onions are also grilled and served with the meat. Point to your favorites and the kebab chef will add them to your skewer. The veggies provide a nice contrast to the rich, savory meat. For extra flavor, top your kebab with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, chili sauce, or creamy garlic yogurt.
Grab and Go
Kebabs are meant to be eaten on the move, standing up or walking. Just grab your loaded skewer in a piece of flatbread to catch the drippings. Find a spot to stand while you devour your delicious kebab, then continue on your way, exploring the city with a satisfied belly and the lingering taste of smoky grilled meat on your lips.
The kebab men of Istanbul have perfected this craft over centuries, and their kebabs are considered by many to be the best in the world. For an authentic taste of Turkish culture and cuisine, kebabs in Istanbul should be at the top of your must-eat list. The aroma, flavors, and overall experience will leave your taste buds rejoicing and have you planning your return visit!
Street Food FAQ: Must-Know Tips for Enjoying Street Food Worldwide
Street food is one of the best ways to experience a new culture, but there are a few tips to keep in mind. Dive in with an adventurous spirit and empty stomach—the rewards of discovering a new favorite dish are well worth it!
Do some research
Learn about the popular street foods of your destination before you go. This will help you spot the long-standing carts and stalls that locals frequent, and avoid the tourist traps. Some classic street foods to try: tacos in Mexico City, crêpes in Paris, dumplings in Shanghai, or currywurst in Berlin.
Check for crowds
The busier the stall, the better—this means high turnover and freshness. Long lines also indicate the food is worth the wait! Strike up a conversation with others in line to get their recommendations.
Observe the vendor
Choose a stall where you can watch the food being prepared in front of you. Look for vendors cooking in small batches and practicing good hygiene like wearing gloves, using clean utensils, and keeping raw and cooked foods separate.
Don’t be afraid to point
Language barriers are part of the adventure. Feel free to point to what others are eating, or at ingredients on display. Many vendors will let you sample before you buy.
Eat with your hands
Don’t be afraid to dig in with your hands, if that’s how the locals do it. Some of the tastiest street foods are meant to be eaten without utensils, like tacos, kebabs, or bánh mì sandwiches.
Try the sauces!
Street food is all about the condiments and sauces. Don’t be shy—load up your food with chili sauce, cilantro, lime wedges, or whatever toppings are on offer. They’re there to enhance the flavors, so dive in!
Exploring street food is a delicious way to experience the soul of a city. With an open mind (and mouth!), you’ll be rewarded with memories of new tastes and flavors to last a lifetime. Buen provecho!