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Street Foods from Around the World

Galilea Nunez and Paola Lopez, Reorters

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Street food is ready-to-eat food or drinks sold by a vendor in a street or other public place, such as at a market or fair. It is often sold at a portable food booth, food cart, or food truck and meant for immediate consumption.

Bánh Mì

Where to Eat It: Ho Chi Minh City

Bánh mì is a term for all types of bread in Vietnamese, but it’s become synonymous with a mouthwatering sandwich that might best be described as a Vietnamese hoagie. A product of French colonialism in Southeast Asia, the bánh mì seamlessly combines Western and Eastern ingredients. Fillings vary, but a standard bánh mì consists of a baguette stuffed with meat (perhaps grilled pork, meatballs, or cold cuts), cucumber slices, sprigs of cilantro, pickled carrots and daikon, liver pâté, and a swipe of mayonnaise. They’re increasingly popular and easy to find in the West (in somewhat less-authentic forms), but the best place to eat one is still on the streets of Saigon. 







Where to Eat It: Istanbul

Translated as “roll”, dürüm is a wrap made with flatbreads like Armenian lavash or Turkish yufka. Inside the wrap, you’ll find typical döner kebab ingredients: spiced meat—usually lamb, though chicken or a beef-veal combination are sometimes options—cooked on a vertical spit then sliced off and topped with tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and lettuce, along with herb-laden yogurt and hot sauce. If you’ve ever spent a late night out in a European city, you’ve likely had one of these to soak up some alcohol—döner (also known as shawarma) is arguably Germany’s most popular street food—but the Turkish version, in which the rolled wrap is grilled to maximize crispiness, is as good as it gets.

Traditional Turkish doner kebab in lavash bread served on a white plate


Where to Eat It: Rome

A smaller version of Sicilian arancini, these fried rice balls are named for the word “surprise” (albeit the French pronunciation), a reference to the oozing bit of mozzarella found inside. Though the recipe once included chicken gizzards, the ingredients have more or less stayed the same for the past century: rice, ragù made with ground beef and tomatoes, and mozzarella. Supplì were once sold by street vendors, but these days you can find the addictive croquettes at any Roman pizza spot or grocery store. The traditional recipe is still ubiquitous, but in recent years Romans have taken a liking to innovative versions that feature a wide—and, appropriately, a surprising range of ingredients.

Roman rice croquettes filled with tomato sauce and mozzarella, on a bed of lettuce on a black plate

肉夹馍 (Rou Jia Mo)

Where to Eat It: Xi’an

Essentially a Chinese version of döner kebab, rou jia mo is one of the world’s oldest sandwiches, dating back at least 2000 years. The traditional version combines pork that has been stewed in a heavily spiced (think lots of cumin) soup for several hours, which is then minced and stuffed in a flatbread with cilantro and mild peppers (beef is a common substitute in Muslim areas, and lamb is also popular in some regions). Rou jia mo originated in Shaanxi Province, whose capital is Xi’an (home to the famous Terracotta Army) but is now widely consumed in other parts of China. It’s easiest to find in the northern part of the country, so look for it in Beijing if Xi’an isn’t on your itinerary. And should you ever find yourself in Beijing, be sure to try jian bing, habit-forming crepes stuffed with eggs, cilantro, and crispy wonton crackers, made at street carts around the city.

Pork Satay

Where to Eat It: Bangkok

You’ll find satay throughout Southeast Asia, where beef and chicken are sometimes used, but pork is most popular in Thailand. Thin slices of meat are marinated in coconut milk, turmeric, and other spices before being skewered and grilled over charcoal. That’s just one part of the dish, though, as satay is also traditionally served with tangy achat (a pickled cucumber salad) and sweet-and-spicy peanut sauce. Satay originated in Indonesia, but its popularity in Thailand—you’ll see it being made on outdoor grills everywhere—is such that the rest of the world thinks it’s a Thai dish.

Cooking meat skewers on the grill in a Thai food street market in Bangkok.

Tacos al pastor

Where to Eat It: Mexico City

Like many great street foods around the world, tacos al pastor is the result of one culture colliding with another. In this case, Lebanese people who emigrated to Mexico brought with them the tradition of spit-roasting meats, typically lamb. In local adoption, the meat was replaced by pork, which is marinated in dried chiles, spices, and pineapple before being cooked. Sliced off the spit like shawarma, the tender meat is then served on small tortillas with onions, cilantro, and, in some cases, a tiny bit of pineapple; lime juice and hot salsa are popular toppings.


Where to Eat It: Paris

Available any time of day, the crêpe is a beloved feature of any Parisian street scene. Savory crêpes, usually made with buckwheat flour and served for lunch or dinner, are commonly filled with ham and cheese, though you can find versions containing vegetables, eggs, and other meats. Sweet crêpes, typically made with wheat flour and served for breakfast or dessert, contain sugar, fruit preserves, custards, or Nutella. For the widest selection in the city, head to the boulevard Montparnasse, where you’ll find stand after stand of budget crêperie options.

All the credit goes to 20 Must Try Foods Around the World.

Check the website out for more foods!


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Street Foods from Around the World