A guided tour of some of the top street eats across the globe.
Brick Lane, London
Think curry in London and Brick Lane is always the first place that springs to mind. However, on arrival you’ll actually find yourself touring much more world cuisine. This street is lined with fixed and mobile outlets selling anything from Syrian falafel (deep fried fava bean or chick pea patties) to British hog roasts, Argentinian steaks, authentic Jewish bagels and Italian crispeddi (anchovy and dill fritters). On Sunday mornings you’ll discover even more vendors joining the eclectic mix – bringing dishes from China, Thailand, Malaysia, Jamaica, Mexico and India (to name but a few).
Having only become French in the mid-19th century, Nice retains a distinctly Italian feel. It won’t take you long to stumble across socca (a thin pancake made with chickpeas and cooked on a griddle), or pissaladière (a pizza-style snack made with onions and anchovies). Tourte de blettes (a sweet pie made with Swiss chard, raisins and pine nuts) and farcis (tomatoes, aubergines and courgettes stuffed with ground meat, garlic and breadcrumbs) are other favourites. Of course, no visitor would be replete without sampling the city’s signature Niçoise salad.
The range of dishes, native to both Mexico City itself and the surrounding provinces, is nothing short of spectacular. Carnivores will be in seventh heaven with pozole (a rich pork broth) and carnitas (tender shredded pork). The city is also famed for its Lebanese-influenced tacos al pastor (Shawarma-style meat in a tortilla) and ubiquitous tortas (sandwich rolls). Other delights include pambazo (filled rolls pre-soaked in guajillo chilli sauce) and flautas (tortillas filled with chicken, pork or potato and then fried). Vegetarians need not despair – camote (sweet potato), quelites (cooked leafy greens), acelgas (Swiss chard) or coliflór (fried cauliflower) are equally prevalent.
East truly meets West on the street stalls of Istanbul. At the Spice Bazaar, on the European shore of the Bosporus, you’ll find authentic doner kebabs, as well as börek (filled pastries) and pastirma (Turkish dried beef). Here you’ll find pide too (leavened wheat bread reminiscent of a pizza) as well as durum (meat cooked over coals and served in a thin roll). Take a ferry to the city’s Asian side and explore the streets in and around Kadiköy Market. Local favourites include lahmacun (thin pieces of dough topped with minced lamb or beef, onions, garlic, tomatoes and chopped parsley and oven-cooked), simit (Turkish sesame-topped bagel) and su böregi (flaky pastry filled with cheese or meat). The baklava (pastry layers filled with honey and walnuts) will satisfy even the sweetest tooth.
This capital city has a healthy love of street food, so you won’t have to go far before stumbling across its most famous dish – Bún cha (grilled pork, salty-sweet broth, green papaya and rice noodles). Interestingly, Bành cuõn (rice crêpes filled with minced pork, shallots and mushrooms) gives a nod to the country’s French colonial past – albeit with a savoury twist. Bành Mi (a baguette with paté, meat or egg and much more) will seem strangely familiar, too. Have no fear though; noodles and rice abound – notably via Pho bo (beef noodle soup) and Xôi xéo (sticky rice with mashed mung beans and a choice of toppings). Hanoi is also known for its coffee culture – so make sure you try a ca phe sua chua (yoghurt coffee) before you leave.