With street food, the best often sits right by the worst. From Greece to Vietnam, we’ll take you on the food adventure of a lifetime.
Munch your way through these local street foods… or, maybe, just don’t.
Greece is known worldwide for its fresh and appetizing Mediterranean cuisine, and you might have heard about specialties such as Mousaka, Tzatziki or the unavoidable Greek Salad. But Greece is a country where the streets are just as rich as the taverns when it comes to delicious eats, and you will find people walking around with grilled meat, enjoying a Gyros (the Greek version of the Kebab) or a Souvlaki (skewer) in the sun. Our pick for top Greek street food, however, might be slightly less famous, but equally as yummy. We are proud to introduce… the Bougatsa!
The filo pastry, stuffed with custard cream and sprinkled with cinnamon and icing sugar in its classic version, also comes with well-seasoned beef (ArrivalGuides editor’s official favorite), spinach or cheese.
Now that we have opened your appetite, and looking back at grilled meats, here is something that you might find slightly less appetizing: Kokoretsi.
Kokoretsi can be found all year long in Greek rotisseries, but it is actually an Easter special. It is made of goat or lamb’s organs (yes, we mean liver, heart, lungs, kidneys and more), wrapped in caul fat and stuffed in intestines. Yum…?
A spicy and tasty cuisine is one of India’s many draws. With food as colorful as the country’s culture, it is hard to go hungry when visiting India’s bustling cities. Among the crowd, the fuss, the cows and the insane traffic, one can also find a myriad of street food stands. If there is too much variety for you to choose, know that the Pani Puri is the true king of the culinary scene.
Also called Phuchhka or Golgappa, depending on the region you are in, the Pani Puri is a round crisp deep fried in oil and then stuffed with a wide array of vegetables, purees, chickpeas and spiced water. Super popular, it is a great street snack and one you cannot miss.
Not quite as popular, and certainly not as appetizing, Phan Pyut is an ingredient usually found in Eastern India. Phan Pyut are actually potatoes left to rot before being used in classic potato dishes – as they are or treated with spices.
Mexican food is one of those that people think they love because they tried it back home, but get a proper culinary shock when they actually visit and try the real thing. It has indeed very little to do with the pale copies you can find around the world, and it usually boasts much stronger and spicier flavours not suitable for every palate.
The country remains, however, one of the best street food scenes in the world, with markets and local food stands all over the streets. Selecting only one specialty was not easy, but we settled for the classic yet ever-surprising Tacos Al Pastor, which come with endless possibilities of fillings.
Unfortunately, the streets of Mexican cities offer other less pleasant surprises – and we urge you to pay close attention to what’s on your plate. One fine example is Escamoles, a dish that some dare refer to as the Mexican Caviar, made of ant eggs, no less!
Served alone or mixed in another dish, we have no doubt it is full of nutrients. Not sure we would try it, though…
Anyone who has strolled the Medinas of Morocco or passed through Jemaa el-Fnaa in Marrakech knows that outdoor stands fill the air with smells of food and freshly pressed oranges, spices and mint green tea. The list of food you can eat on the streets is too long to honour here, so we will stop at one classic you simply cannot miss.
Sweets, dates and other dried fruit are a must-try of Moroccan cuisine, and make for the perfect snack on a hot day (and go with mint tea like they were made for each other).
There is one street food specialty that we will not show a photo of, for it really is not easy to look at (but suit yourself if you want to look for it): the Moroccan sheep head. Steamed for about five hours in advance in street markets (souk) so that they are ready in time, the heads are sold half or whole, with or without the eyes (if you insist on trying it, we suggest you start with that second option). To eat it, let the vendor scrape the fur off (if it was not done in advance), spice it up and scrap the inside of the cheeks and the tongue, which are apparently the softest part of the beast. Everything is meant to be eaten though, so don’t limit yourself.
Pho, Nems and Cao Lau might be delicious, but they are not the easiest food to eat on the go. If you are looking for something that will satisfy your appetite but fit in your hand, look for food stands serving Bánh bao.
Literally translating to “wrapping cake”, Bánh bao is a steamed ball-shaped bun stuffed with meat (chicken or pork) and vegetables. The outside is very white, and it is a soft and delicious treat to have in Vietnam.
If you are looking for something crunchier and more adventurous, you can also hail one of the street vendors walking around with a huge tray of fried insects over their head. They are almost impossible to avoid, even when you really have no intention of trying this local delicacy. However, when you know that insects could practically solve the world’s hunger issues, you might want to reconsider.