Things You Should Know About Street Food

Street food is amazing, here’s what you should know to get the best street food you can find.

Traditional Asian Street Food Market. Exploration Always
Traditional Asian Street Market

We've all walked down the street and seen a small cart with someone cooking behind it. It may frighten you to eat food from a place where the kitchen is open to its surroundings. You don't really know what's in there, and why is it so cheap? I'm here to tell you that there is nothing to worry about. Street food is one of the best ways to really experience the culture of a destination. Often times these carts or stands serve local favorites that many people grab throughout the day. While yes, you don't always know what's in them, do you really know what's in your food at restaurants. When was the last time you went in the kitchen of a restaurant to look around at all of the ingredients? And fast food, nobody knows what's in that, not even the employees. So chances are you’re better off with some dumplings from a street cart than a paper thin burger from a fast food joint.

As I said earlier, street food is a great way to genuinely dine like a local. This is especially true in more developing countries where many people don't have the luxury of going to a sit down restaurant. In some places, you can find street foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Often times while traveling, I choose to not eat a traditional lunch and will instead have several small items from multiple street vendors throughout the afternoon. This lets me try a variety of dishes while spending the same or even less money than I would at a sit down restaurant. There are even some cuisines which I would prefer dishes from street vendors. I spent a little over three months in Thailand this past year. While there, I discovered that the more we paid for Thai food, the worse it tasted. That’s not to say that you won’t get a good meal for paying more, but generally you can find just as good Thai food (in Thailand) for very cheap. For example, in the United States, a plate of pad thai can cost around $12. Even months afterwards, I can remember the best pad thai we ate and it cost 40 baht ($1.33). If we payed $12 (360 baht) for pad thai in Thailand, we would have been in shock.

While there are plenty of dishes you need to sit down to enjoy, know that there’s nothing wrong with going to the person selling food on the corner of the street. If you are still skeptical, one of the easiest ways to ensure your food is safe is by going to a vendor at a street market. Street markets are full of food vendors, clothes, souvenirs, and other things you can buy. These vendors generally come on a daily basis which means they are making money by people buying their food. So it’s not only an almost guarantee of safe food, but also delicious food.

In my opinion, these are the best countries to enjoy street food are:

  1. China

  2. Thailand

  3. India

  4. Turkey

  5. Mexico

  6. Israel

  7. Japan

  8. Germany

  9. United States

  10. Spain

  11. Vietnam

  12. Venezuela

  13. Ethiopia

  14. Singapore

  15. South Korea

To see learn more about street food, click here to learn how to choose the right street food.