The best food in a city isn’t always found in a Michelin-starred restaurant. In fact, in many cities around the world, the best food is eaten streetside.
Eating street food is one of the best ways to experience a new city. Rubbing elbows with locals, sitting on well-worn plastic stools, sinking your teeth into cheap, delicious eats – it’s how you really get to know a place.
But while you should embrace adventure and dive into that bowl of mystery noodles, you’re also going to want a health game plan for when you do come home. That’s why we’ve teamed up with our friends at Noom, the award-winning weight-loss program designed by psychologists, to name some of the best street food cities in the world.
Thailand’s capital city may also be the unofficial street food capital of the world. Street food is virtually everywhere you look in Bangkok. From stir-fried noodles and curries in a plastic bag to sweet treats like mango sticky rice or Thai tea, street food is a part of everyday life in this bustling city.
Must try Thailand street food:
- Pad Kra Pao - spicy stir-fried chicken and holy basil
- Pad Thai
- Som Tam - sweet and sour green papaya salad
- Moo Ping - marinated grilled pork skewer
This futuristic city-state has elevated the street food game to new heights without sacrificing taste or authenticity. Thanks to the government placing vendors inside of their famous hawker centers, you can try countless incredible dishes under one roof. And thanks to Singapore’s blend of cultures from China, India, Malaysia, and elsewhere, the street food here offers everything from curried fish heads to simple-but-delicious chicken rice.
Must try Singapore street food:
- Chicken rice
- Hokkien Mee
- Chilli Crab
Get back on track
Looking for support once you’re back from traveling? Noom has your back.
Noom is a health program that uses psychology to teach you about how your brain works so that you will know how to make the best choices for you and your body.
Noom will provide an encouraging support system of online groups and a trained personal coach that will motivate you towards your health goals and help you start seeing lasting results.
Get ready to achieve wellness with Noom!
While Bali may not be a city, this island certainly stands apart from the rest of Indonesia, so we snuck it onto the list. While the main strips of Ubud and Canggu have grown to reflect the hordes of vegan yogis or picky digital nomads, you’ll find some of Bali’s best foods by the roadside or even on the beach. From smoky chicken satay on a stick to grilled corn served with a side of beach sunset, don’t skip the street food in Bali.
Must try Bali street food:
- Babi Guling - roast suckling pig
- Satay lilit - minced meat with grated coconut, coconut milk, lemon juice, shallots, and pepper
- Laklak - rice flour pancakes with coconut and palm sugar
4. Hanoi, Vietnam
Street food is a way of life in Vietnam and the capital city of Hanoi is no different. Small plastic stools and tables line even the busiest of sidewalks in the city to accommodate throngs of hungry locals. Whether enjoying a piping hot bowl of pho or sipping a sweet, rich ca phe sua da (sweetened Vietnamese iced coffee) to beat the Hanoi heat, pull up a chair and watch this constantly buzzing city pass you by.
Must try Hanoi street food:
- Banh Mi - Vietnamese sandwich served on a flaky, fluffy french baguette
- Pho - a savory noodle soup filled with meat, rice noodles, fresh herbs,and bean sprouts
- Bun Cha - plate of grilled fatty pork, rice noodles, and a side of nuoc cham, a sweet, salty, savory dipping sauce.
5. Mexico City
Mexican food in Mexico’s capital city might look a bit different than what you’re used to seeing stateside but don’t let that scare you off. The city is filled with carts and stands serving up delicious Mexican eats made of the freshest ingredients around. With homemade tortillas, al pastor meat cut right off the spit, freshly made salsas, and finely chopped aromatic cilantro, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Must try Mexico City street food:
- Al pastor tacos
- Elotes - corn on the cob dressed in mayo, chili powder, fresh lime juice, cotija cheese, and cilantro
- Barbacoa - succulent, slow-cooked barbecue meats
Street food in Honolulu is directly influenced by Hawaii’s many different cultures, both locals and immigrants from around the world. As a coastal city in a chain of islands, freshly caught seafood is typically the star of the show in the Honolulu street food scene. But the combination of outside influences and innovation means that even unusual ingredients like Spam can be made into a delicious snack on the go. See: spam musubi.
Must try Honolulu street food:
- Garlic shrimp
- Huli Huli Chicken
- Shave ice
7. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This beautiful city isn’t just a postcard-worthy beach town. It’s a downright foodie hot spot. Just a few steps from the shoreline, you can get your hands on mouthwatering eats that are just as satisfying as the view. Take your pick of sweet options like acai, freshly squeezed juices, and tapioca crepes or savory delights like grilled shrimp, cod fritters, or the famous pão de queijo.
Must try Rio de Janeiro street foods:
- Bolinho de bacalhau - a deep-fried fritter made of cod pieces, seasonings, and herbs
- Pão de queijo - cheese bread
8. Istanbul, Turkey
Pushcarts and food stalls are a common sight throughout the streets of Istanbul. In the morning, you’ll see hungry locals starting their day with simit, which resembles an American bagel covered in molasses and sesame seeds. But night time is when you want to follow the crowds lining up to try everything from doner kebabs to more adventurous eats like Kokoreç.
Must try Istanbul street foods:
- Simit bread
- Kokoreç - a dish made of grilled offal (sweetbreads, lungs, hearts, kidneys) spiced and wrapped in lamb intestines.
- Islak Hamburger - AKA Wet burger. Meat patty (usually beef, could be a mystery) inside a soft bun and covered in a garlicky tomato-based sauce.
9. Mumbai India
Street food in Mumbai is as fresh, eclectic, and vibrant as the city itself. There are countless options for fresh, delicious street food in Mumbai, each better than the last. From devout vegetarians and vegans to those who somehow can never get enough spice, Mumbai’s street eats can satisfy even the most discerning palates.
Must try Mumbai street foods:
- Vada pav - Almost like a vegetarian burger. Spiced and deep-fried potato mixture inside a soft bun served with chutneys and a chili pepper.
- Pav Bhaji - a thick curry made of mashed vegetables and spices served with toasty bread and a side of onions.
- Samosas - Fried or baked pastry filled with various savory fillings.
Cheap eats, cheap flights
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BY: ZACH ANDERSON, CONTENT MARKETING & FLIGHT EXPERT
Zach is a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helps 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.