Ranking 30 Street Foods From Around the World
Every country has its street food. Cheap, grab-on-the-go flavors that are sold out of a food truck or a small, window-only shop. Many of these foods are must-haves, no matter how many Michelin-starred restaurants a city has. These foods provide a real essence of a culture with a long past in a country's founding.
But which of these amazing foods are the best? We know this is controversial, but we're doing it: We're ranking the best street foods, based on how much people post about them on social media.
Can you guess which street food is the most popular?
30. Bunny Chow
Where to eat it: South Africa
It was the immigrant neighborhoods of India that introduced South Africa to Bunny Chow. Originally made for workers who wouldn't have time to grab a proper lunch, this is a portable meal of curry within a cube of bread.
The curry is often lamb, chicken or mutton, and yes, you can eat it with your hands!
Where to eat it: Poland
Poland's popular dumplings may have started as peasant food, but now, it's comfort food that makes a desirable treat. Filled with mashed potatoes, cheese, ground beef, sauerkraut, onions and more, vendors sell it on the streets, and you will even find it in restaurants.
If you'd rather go sweet, choose a berry-filled variety.
28. Bao Buns
Where to eat it: China, Taiwan
Another beloved dumpling is that found in China. These steamed buns are sweeter than a standard dumpling and filled most often with a pork and vegetable mixture.
27. Belgian Waffles
Where to eat it: Belgium
Belgian waffles, referred to as Liege or Brussels waffles, have deep pockets for holding all the wonderful goodness topping them.
Often served as a sweet treat, the waffles are topped with sugar, chocolate, Nutella, whipped cream and berries. What's not to love?
26. Vada Pav
Where to eat it: India
Nicknamed the Bombay Burger (it was first made in Mumbai), buns are stuffed with a deep-fried potato patty made of mashed potato mixed with turmeric, green chili and garlic.
The popular staple is served with a chutney.
Where to eat it: Morocco
Named for the clay pot the dish is cooked in, tagine is a meat-based stew. You'll find lamb, beef or chicken varieties with plenty of spices, vegetables and herbs.
So popular is tagine that families cook it, restaurants serve it, and you can grab it to go on the streets. It's often served with bread or couscous.
24. Tacos al Pastor
Where to eat it: Mexico
Immigrants from Lebanon brought traditional Arabic shawarma to Mexico, where the meat of lamb cooked upright was shaved off and eaten on pita bread.
The Mexican people loved the concept and swapped pork for the lamb and corn tortillas for the pita. Topped with cilantro, onions and a lime juice, you have the dish found on street corners across the country.
Where to eat it: Germany
Either featuring a whole sausage or one conveniently sliced into bite sizes for you, currywurst combines German sausage with a sauce of ketchup and curry powder for a real kick.
Served with French fries, this dish has been a staple in Germany since it was introduced in the late 1940s.
22. Banh mi
Where to eat it: Vietnam
Meaning "bread" in Vietnamese, the term has now become akin to a Vietnamese version of a sub sandwich.
Stuffed with meat, lettuce, pickled carrots, mayonnaise, cucumber slices, the sandwich combined the western flavors from its Colonial French past with the ingredients of Vietnam.
Where to eat it: Philippines
This sweet treat of shaved ice and evaporated milk means "mix-mix" because you can mix in practically anything you can imagine on this Filipino sundae.
You'll find the purple mixture made with ube, a purple yam, and toppings like chunks of pineapple and jackfruit, shredded coconut, sweet red beans and tapioca.
The dessert is growing in popularity and now appears in other Southeastern Asia countries.
Where to eat it: Mexico
Take a fried tortilla and spread refried beans or guacamole on it, then top it with ingredients like diced tomatoes, onions and cilantro and you have the makings of a tostada.
They can be topped with seafood like shrimp or meat like chicken, with numerous recipes found throughout Mexico and into parts of Central America.
19. Souvlaki / Gyro
Where to eat it: Greece
We've grouped these two dishes together for their similarities. Both are quick eats of meats and veggies wrapped into a pita.
However, the difference is how the meat inside is prepared. A gyro's meat of lamb, pork or chicken is cooked on a rotisserie. A souvlaki's meat is skewered meat and typically served on an open flatbread as more of a deconstructed gyro.
Where to eat it: Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Southeast Asia
Skewered pork or chicken is the perfect takeaway food. Marinated in coconut milk and spices, the meat is grilled then served with a spicy peanut sauce for dipping.
17. Jerk Chicken
Where to eat it: Jamaica
One of the most popular dishes in the Caribbean comes from Jamaica, where the spicy grilled chicken (or pork) is found at roadside shacks and in sit-down restaurants across the island.
Jerk, consisting of allspice, Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, ginger, scallions and soy sauce, is used as a marinade before the meat is grilled over an open fire to blacken and enhance the flavor.
Where to eat it: Japan
A snack fritter that you can take with you in Japan, takoyaki are filled with minced octopus, green onion and pickled ginger.
Once fried, they get a slight coating of mayonnaise and takoyaki sauce and are rolled in shavings of fish and seaweed.
Where to eat it: Central America, Mexico
The Mesoamerican people first created tamales with a corn-based masa that is steamed inside a corn husk. The corn base is mixed with meats, cheeses, vegetables, fruits or chilies — anything you'd like.
Simply peel back the corn husk wrapping and inside the food is ready to be eaten by hand.
Where to eat it: Germany, New York City
It was an Italian monk that created the first pretzel but it's the Germans who really took ownership of the salty dough snack. An ideal complement to beer as the salt helps reduce hoppiness and enhances the flavor, you'll spot brewers at Oktoberfest offering these by the hundreds. (Plus they make you thirsty!)
Pretzels are not only a staple of Oktoberfest but sold at food trucks — New York City has plenty too!
Where to eat it: Canada
When it was created outside of Montreal in 1957, it is said a customer requested a restaurant top his fries with gravy and cheese curds, which would create "a mess" — poutine.
No matter how messy it is, the gooey potato dish is now a treat found not only in Quebec but across Canada. It's so popular that fast-food chains like McDonald's feature it as well.
Where to eat it: Turkey, Middle East, Germany
As tacos al pastor uses rotisserie-cooked meats that is shaved off onto a shell, shawarma is the original dish with the meat wrapped into a pita.
Not to be confused with a doner kebab, which is cooked similarly and eaten on a plate, shawarma is wrapped in the pita with tahini or hummus and includes tomatoes, cucumbers and salad, much like a gyro.
11. Pad Thai
Where to eat it: Thailand
Although noodles were invented in China, the Thai took rice noodles mixed them with veggies in a stir fry and made it their own. In fact, "pad" simply means "stir-fried noodles."
The noodles are fried with eggs, vegetables and tofu and mixed with a sauce of tamarind, garlic, sugar and red chili pepper for a spicy dish that can be found throughout the streets.
Where to eat it: Israel
This vegetarian-friendly street food is made up of deep-fried chickpea balls. Stuffed into a pita with pickled veggies, salad and tahini sauce, it's considered the national dish of Israel, although you'll find it served around the Middle East.
9. Fish and Chips
Where to eat it: United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand
Nothing is more rightfully British than a takeaway of fried fish and chips (french fries).
The fried white fish, traditionally cod or haddock, gets a good spray of salt and vinegar and can be wrapped in paper for convenient eating while walking. (Although most people do sit down and take the time to enjoy the meal with a pint.)
8. Hot Dogs
Where to eat it: Iceland, New York City, Chicago
There are three cities where grabbing a hot dog on the street is a must.
In New York, hot dog carts are found on practically every street corner and hungry pedestrians will eat it with spicy brown mustard, onion relish and sauerkraut.
In Reykjavik, the hot dog is made with mostly lamb meat and are topped with ketchup, mustard, raw white onions or crispy fried onions and mayonnaise with chopped pickles sauce.
In Chicago, don't even think of putting ketchup on your dog. Chicago style "forbids" it. Instead, yellow mustard, chopped onions and sweet pickle relish are permitted.
Where to eat it: Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia
Empanadas date back to medieval Spain and are a corn dough wrapping around beef, pork, tomatoes, onions, potatoes and cheese. The meal-in-a-hand specialty is typically cooked by frying but it can be baked.
Where to eat it: Peru and Latin America
Peru's capital, Lima, introduced the world to ceviche and while you'll find it in Latin American countries it is a common dish when visiting the South American nation. (They even have a holiday to celebrate the national dish!)
Raw fish is marinated in a juice of lime and lemon with chopped onions, chili peppers and tomatoes. The fresher the better!
Where to eat it: Spain, Portugal, Mexico
The churro is a fried pastry strip rolled in cinnamon and sugar. That should be enough decadence, right?
Now add melted chocolate for dipping, or an extra thick hot chocolate served in Spain meant to perfectly compliment the churro. Sweetness!
Where to eat it: France
You'd be hard-pressed to find a person in Paris who can pass a creperie without stopping. (Unless they've already had one!)
Buckwheat flour is spread thin and can be topped with a variety of sweets like Nutella, chocolate, strawberries and bananas or made into a handy breakfast or lunch takeaway. These are often filled with eggs, cheese and ham.
Where to eat it: Italy
Ask any friend who has visited Italy about the gelato and watch them turn to mush as they remember eating it on a daily basis (if not more). Served in every city, the bright colors and delicious toppings call out to any passerby.
This isn't ice cream. No; gelato is lower in fat and whipped with more air that makes it lighter and more flavorful than any scoop you'll find in an ice cream shop.
Where to eat it: Mexico, United States, Canada
With toppings folded into a tortilla, the taco is one of the most popular street foods in the world. Originating in Mexico, immigrants took the dish to America and it spread like wildfire outside of North America.
Food trucks galore serve up the filling of ground beef, chicken, seafood, pork, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, pico, salsa, guacamole and sour cream on more than just Taco Tuesdays.
Where to eat it: United States, Italy, around the world
The No. 1 street food in the world by leaps and bounds is pizza.
Topped with meats, vegetables and cheese and served in slices that can be eaten while walking down a New York street, pizza's ease and deliciousness may have gotten its start in Italy but can now be found everywhere you travel.