Famous Street Food Around The World

Bite into Culture Through the Best Popular Street Foods to Eat on Vacation.

By Eben Diskin | Published on May 3, 2023

Travel is all about experiencing other cultures, but "culture" is a multifaceted word that encompasses art, literature, music, history, tradition, language and, of course, food. Experiencing all of the above may seem to be a tall order on a short trip, but don't worry; exploring the best street food around the world is the perfect gateway to a country's culture, even if on the surface, it just looks like a fried pastry.

Discover Culture Through Popular Street Foods

You don't need to visit every museum, read every book, or tour every local craft bazaar to get a potent taste of what makes a culture unique. But you do need to try its food. Apart from simply tickling the taste buds, food is a window into a country's past, traditions, agriculture and even hospitality culture. Exploring a country through food can be done in a wide range of ways. It means settling in at a five-star restaurant to enjoy a seven-course dinner of local delicacies. It means sharing a meal with new friends at someone's house and soaking in the warmth. It means hitting up a fast food joint that, surprisingly, has a completely different menu than the one you're used to back home. And of course, it means wandering the streets, inhaling the rich aromas of food stalls and trying freshly made snacks you've never heard of.

Indeed, there's a reason the best street food in the world is also some of the best food in the world, period. Street food is typically sold by vendors in the street, at a park, or in the middle of another public place, from behind a portable food cart, truck or booth. Unlike buying groceries from a market, street food is ready-to-eat and meant to be consumed immediately, making it perfect for satisfying those instant cravings on vacation.

It might sound counterintuitive to seek out food prepared by street vendors rather than duck into a restaurant that may be steps away, but there are several reasons to choose street food over more traditional fare. It's often cheaper than food in a restaurant, not to mention infinitely more efficient if you're looking for a quick bite as you wander around a new city or town. Street food is also cooked right in front of you, which, apart from being fun to watch, also ensures that it'll be fresh and piping hot. It's also a more social experience to bite into street food. Rather than sitting at a table and being formally served by a waiter, you'll be face to face with the chef, who will likely be happy to discuss their food at length.

It's hard to imagine tasting all of the popular street food around the world, though with the many ports on the Ultimate World Cruise itinerary it's certainly the most ideal way to start your best foodie vacation. On your cruise around the world, you'll hit the Americas, including Mexico, several Caribbean islands, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and more countries throughout South and Central America. You'll even see Antarctica, though you probably shouldn't expect a great street food scene there.

From the Americas, the Ultimate World Cruise travels to many segments including the Asia-Pacific region, where you'll hit Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, India and more. This region famously has some of the best street food in the world, so you'll want to take full advantage of all the unique options before visiting the Middle East and Europe.

From the Americas to Asia, this is the best street food around the world.

Street Food In The Americas

Venture just south to the streets of Mexico, and you'll find all-you-can-eat street tacos that put a fresh twist on this popular dish. Mexican tacos are typically made with meat and other fillings, with the ingredients sliced before your eyes on a huge block of wood. Fillings may include any mixture of stewed, fried, or grilled meat, diced onions, cilantro, and jalapeno, though there are innumerable combinations (cheese is notably absent here). Eating Mexican street food is more than just biting into a taco; you're biting into the neighborhood itself, tasting all its rich flavors, spices, and culinary traditions that have evolved over years.
Cruise even farther south to Colombia, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a street food market that doesn't sell arepas. One of the most popular street foods in Colombia and Venezuela, arepas are stuffed cornmeal cakes with a crispy outside and fluffy inside, made on a griddle with precooked cornmeal and often filled with meat, eggs, beans, cheese and other savory ingredients. Every vendor makes arepas a little differently, and that's part of the fun. Once you sink your teeth into the warm cornmeal, a plain old sandwich from your local deli just won't cut it anymore.
No Latin American street food tour would be complete, however, without doubles. And no, that doesn't mean having double helpings of your meal. Doubles, most commonly found on the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago, are a snack sandwich of Indian descent. A fried flatbread filled with a spiced chickpea curry, pickled green mango, and hot pepper sauce, doubles are a staple of the island's street food scene, and are usually eaten for breakfast. They're messy, spicy, filling and incredibly cheap. Walking through the streets chowing down on doubles is an essential part of the Caribbean island experience.

Book Now

For the most comprehensive global street food tour, climb onboard the Royal Caribbean Ultimate World Cruise — the most exciting way to try all the best street food around the world with segemtns.

Exploring Asia Through Street Food

Asia has some of the best street food in the world. When you imagine a culinary journey through Vietnam, Thailand, and India, chances are food stalls immediately come to mind. Maybe you can even taste the curry on your lips. Aloo chaat is probably India's most famous street food, and it's the perfect way to start your street food tour of Asia. Now popular throughout much of South Asia, aloo chaat is made by frying potatoes in oil and adding chutney, spices and sometimes fruits. The combination of the sweet, sour and spicy flavors makes for a kick unlike anything you're probably used to.
If you're craving something a little more carb-heavy on your cruise through Asia, head to Vietnam and indulge in pho. From its street food origins in the early 20th century, this rice noodle soup has become one of the most popular Asian dishes in both street stalls and restaurants across Southeast Asia. It's usually made with chicken or beef broth, pho noodles and thinly sliced beef, with bean sprouts and herbs on the side. Though served on the street, you might want to sit down while eating pho so you don't spill.
When you're in the Philippines, make sure you save room for dessert. Try banana cue, the popular Philippines street food dessert that's made by deep-frying saba bananas and then coating them in caramelized sugar. It doesn't take much more explanation to convey just how delicious this snack is, or how it's the perfect way to cap off an evening on your vacation in the Philippines.
There's a reason the best street food in the world is also some of the best food in the world, period.

The Fun, Famous Foods Of Europe

The street food of Europe might not sound as exciting to you as that of Asia or South America, but you'd be doing yourself a disservice by skipping it on your cruise through Europe. For example, many Americans indulge in calzones on a regular basis. You might know that calzones originated in Italy, but did you know they're commonly served as street food there? A folded-over pizza filled with mozzarella or ricotta, ham, salami, and sometimes broccoli and spinach, Italy's street calzones have always been designed as a pizza-on-the-go. All it takes to get addicted is one cheesy bite of the golden-brown crust.
For yet another savory treat, cruise to Greece and tuck into a gyro. As far as Greece street food goes, gyros are among the most popular. Consisting of pork and chicken cooked on a vertical spit, then sliced and combined with tzatziki and vegetables in pita bread, the gyro is a Greek culinary staple that has spread all over the world. There's truly nothing like strolling the streets of Santorini inhaling the crisp Mediterranean air, while also inhaling a gyro.
When it's time for dessert on your cruise of Europe, look no further than France — the land of buttery sweet confection. You may have had crepes before, but you haven't lived until you've walked the Champs-Élysées with a crepe in hand. Crepes are basically a thinner pancake, made in both sweet and savory varieties. Savory crepes may contain egg, ham and cheese, while sweet crepes may be filled with Nutella, fresh fruit, jam and syrup. And unlike pancakes, they're not just considered a breakfast food. Here, they're enjoyed for dinner or a sweet between-meal snack — so you can indulge pretty much whenever you want.

Written By

Eben Diskin is a travel writer, amateur pizza connoisseur, avid Indoorsman, and the Senior Staff Writer at Matador Network. While traveling, he pretends to enjoy activities like hiking, camping, fine dining, and museums, when all he really wants to do is drink Jack and Cokes at the hotel bar. He has a degree in History from Wheaton College and a definitely-not-useless Master's in Fiction Writing from the University of Edinburgh.

Get Royal Deals, Sign Up Today


16 Best Foodie Vacation Destinations


6 Caribbean Islands With Delicious French Cuisine


15 Best Traditional Puerto Rican Dishes


Previewing: Promo Dashboard Campaigns

My Personas