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There’s nothing quite like doing as the locals do and grabbing some street-side grub. The rule of thumb is simple: don’t judge a book by its cover.

Often the most unassuming stalls dish out the best food, and there’s only one way to find out which: read our round-up of the best cities for street food and get stuck in.

1. Mexico City, Mexico

Food stalls in Mexico City have seriously upped their game with frequent migration to the capital from around the country meaning that a host of new and interesting stalls are popping up. Sonora Street Food serves the best burritos; order burro percherón for decadent fillings of grilled meat, avocado and melted cheese, or head to Los Parados for the best meat tacos in town. For plant-based fare, head to Siempre Vegano for instantly Instagrammable vegan tacos in the Roma district (no filter needed). At the weekend, make your way to Parque San Alvaro in Claveria. Hailed as the perfect hangover cure, this stall serves barbacoa – slow-cooked lamb with consomme and chickpeas, stuffed into handmade tortillas.

 

2. Seoul, South Korea

Famous for its BBQ-fried chicken and fried meats, street food in Seoul showcases a different side to the city. While food carts and vendors are definitely not hard to find, it’s knowing what to choose that’ll help you here. For traditional dishes, hit Gwangjang Market to try as many as you can muster. Start with bindaetteok, Gwangjang’s speciality. This savoury mung-bean pancake has been a local favourite since the market first opened in 1905. Follow with Gimbap for a Korean take on sushi, or Hweori Gamja for skewered, spiralled potato twirls covered in cheese. Those with a sweet tooth should head to the Insadong neighbourhood in search of kkultarae, a picture-perfect dessert made of threaded-sugar and oozing a sweet filling.

3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Home to vibrant festivals, colourful parades and raucous beach parties, Rio certainly knows how to work up an appetite. It’s easy to satisfy your cravings at any of the vendors lining Rio’s streets. Tapioca is a rising favourite on the street-food scene, particularly in the capital’s South Zone. The tapioca is fried with coconut to make crispy pancakes, which are filled with a choice of sweet or savoury options. For more carby goodness, try coxinha (fried dough filled with shredded chicken and cheese) or pastel, a similar fried pastry stuffed with delicious fillings of your choosing.

4. Portland, Oregon

Known for microbreweries and coffee houses, Portland’s vendor scene complements its hip reputation. Thanks to relatively low regulation, an abundance of gourmet food trucks rival even the best restaurants in this riverside city. Taking inspiration from all over the globe, food courts and markets serve everything from grilled cheese to bahn mi. Head downtown to Alder Street Food Cart Pod for the largest selection of carts. Wear comfortable shoes and loose-fitting trousers – you’ll be stall-hopping all day long.

5. Berlin, Germany

While many opt for traditional currywurst, Berlin has much more to offer than its famous sausage dish. Situated in a renovated train station bathroom underneath the U-Bahn tracks, Bürgermeister is a popular street-food spot. Come for delicious burgers, but be prepared for long waiting times. If queueing isn’t for you, delve beyond the meat stalls to find countless vegetarian Vietnamese and Turkish vendors. On Hasenheide, Hamy Café has delicious meat-free options, while Nachtigall on Ohlauer Strasse offers crispy falafel wraps and creamy lentil curries.

6. Istanbul, Turkey

Follow your nose through the labyrinthine streets of Istanbul as a myriad of smells draws you round street corners and down alleyways. While Turkish cuisine is known for sweeter items – Turkish delight and baklava, to name a couple – Istanbul’s food markets flaunt the more savoury options, jam-packed with spices and flavours. In the morning, try simit or açma for soft, doughy bread perfect for on-the-go snacking. Later, hop between stalls to taste-test your favourite durum and kebabs. Alternatively, lahmacun is a “Turkish pizza” comprised of a thin-dough base topped with minced meat, vegetables and herbs.

7. Beijing, China

Despite a recent crackdown on food stalls, Beijing street food is still going strong. In the depths of Gulou Dongdajie, Beijing’s oldest neighbourhood, food stalls and markets are interspersed with well-preserved traditional hutongs. Order jianbing, a soft pancake cooked on a grill, filled with spring onions, egg, soybeans and a crispy wonton cracker covered in a sweet-and-spicy hoisin sauce. Those looking for something more experimental should head to Wangfujing to test their mettle against scorpions, spiders and chicken foetuses.

8. Bangkok, Thailand

Although restaurants in Bangkok serve tasty takes on traditional Thai dishes, you won’t find a better pad thai or chicken satay than on the city streets. Those sticking to what they know, head straight to Thip Samai Pad Thai. Its namesake dish has earned it a Bib Gourmand, and the daily queues outside speak for themselves. Other classic dishes include hoy tod, a crispy omelette filled with shellfish and topped with a chilli sauce, and mu daeng for barbecued pork and sticky rice.

9. Honolulu, Hawaii

Hawaiian cuisine is a blend of its cultural heritage, incorporating influences from Polynesia, Asia and the Americas. The best way to try this unique fusion is through Honolulu’s food-truck culture. Rent a car to explore the whole island of Oahu, as markets and food stalls that pop up along roadsides are often the best place to sample traditional dishes. Tuck into poke bowls, a local staple long before they littered your Instagram feed, or loco moco, burger patties served on a bed of rice, topped with gravy and a fried egg.

10. Cartagena, Colombia

Right on the Caribbean sea, this walled city is renowned as the most beautiful in Colombia. Every plaza is chock-a-block with food carts and the scent of freshly made arepa (a savoury bread pocket filled with cheese) lingers in the air.. Plaza San Diego is a bustling square that’ll leave you spoilt for choice. Try empanadas for fried pastries brimming with meat and cheese and wash them down with freshly squeezed juice or heady Colombian coffee.

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