The best part of traveling is trying new things — new sights, sounds, experiences — and that includes new tastes. One of the easiest ways to get a cultural taste “snapshot” of an area is trying the street food. Fresh, hot, tasty and different, street food gives you an opportunity to try a sample of what the locals eat. At GetAway Travel, we travel and believe in embracing everything travel has to offer, including new tasting opportunities. Our travel advisors can help you plan a tasty trip!
So many tasty options around the world
What country has the best street food? There are lists and lists and, honestly, it depends on your tastes. Keep an open mind no matter where you travel, some of the smallest countries have the most memorable street food. And remember, those calories stay in the country where you ate the food!
Believe it or not, Bosnia and Sarajevo rank up at the top of a lot of “best street food in Europe” lists. Try cevapi there, minced meat formed into small, thin sausage-like shapes served on flatbread with onion and ajvar. Ajvar is a traditional sauce of garlic, oil, vinegar, charred red peppers and roasted eggplant. It’s a little smoky, a little tangy and very tasty. Or try a borek, a hand-sized pie of phyllo-like dough with minced meat, potato or spinach tucked in the layers. Bulgaria has something similar called a banitsa and it comes stuffed with cheese, cabbage and spinach, or a sweet version with apples and walnuts.
Other street food options in Bulgaria include, surprisingly enough, salads. Snezhanka salad or snow white salad is strained yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, salt, dill and oil. Sometimes you can get it with roasted peppers and walnuts and parsley. Shopska is cucumbers, tomatoes, white cheese and onions. Kebapche is similar to cevapi.
Try a käsekrainer in Austria, a crispy sausage filled with melted cheese served with mustard. You can, of course, get fresh, hot pretzels in Austria or Germany.
You may be surprised to learn German street vendors sell a salad, too. Wurstalat is a sausage salad! It is diced up sausage, cheese, onions and pickles with a vinaigrette dressing. Weisswurst is the traditional white, Bavarian sausage made from minced veal and pork back bacon. Flavored with parsley, lemon, mace, onions, cardamon and garlic, it is boiled and served on bread with mustard on the side. Rumford suppe is soup with vegetables and barley and Bayerische Kartoffel is a potato served with creme fraiche and chives.
Sweden is home to the tunnbrödsrulle. That’s Swedish flatbread rolled up to enclose a hot dog, mashed potatoes, raw and fried onions, mustard, relish and mayonnaise or shrimp salad. And while we are talking about hot dogs, you can get a perepichka in the Ukraine, a hot dog wrapped in a slightly sweet fried dough.
Denmark gives us smørrebrød, a dark, dense, buttered piece of rye bread with a variety of toppings and a schmear. Vendors sell fish and chips in England and, of course, you can get pizza in Italy. But in Italy you can also get polpette di bollito, small disks of pulled beef that are shaped, breaded and fried. Some stands also sell suppli, fried rice balls with tomato sauce.
Street vendors in Japan can whip you up an order of takoyaki, bite-sized tasty treats fried in special molded pans. They contain tiny pieces of octopus, green onions and pickled ginger. Yakitori is grilled meat on a stick. Ask what the protein is, sometimes vendors grill sparrow. A okonomiyaki is a savory pancake, cooked on both sides and topped with eggs, meat or seafood and topped with sauce, mayonnaise, bonito and seaweed flakes and pickled ginger.
Go for some sweet options
Indulge your sweet tooth with trdelnik in the Czech Republic, also called chimney cakes, they are rolled dough grilled over an open fire and then dusted with cinnamon sugar or nuts. They come filled with Nutella or whipped cream. You can get a sweet palaçinky (they come in savory options, too). It is similar to a crepe filled with jam, chocolate or hazelnuts.
In Belgium you can get waffles that are savory or sweet. The sweet options come topped with strawberries, whipped cream and Nutella.
Don’t skip getting a gelato in Italy. It is creamier, more dense and more healthy than American ice cream and there are so, so many flavors to choose from.
In Croatia you can get a fritule, a yeasty dough fritter with raisins and grated apple inside. Speaking of raisins, they are soaked in rum and added, with apples, to apfelstrudel in Austria.
Go for the sweet crepe option when in France, they are served with chocolate, fruit, Nutella and custard! Or, pick up something called a raspberry bottereaux, raspberry-filled pastry pockets dusted with powdered sugar.
In Romania try gogoasa, puffed doughnuts that come plain or filled with jam.
In Japan, look for taiyaki at a street vendor. It’s a fish-shaped waffle filled with red bean paste, custard or chocolate or dango which are sweet rice dumplings on a stick.
A korvapuusti in Finland is a tasty creation that is essentially a flat cinnamon bun.
Of course you can have baklava in Greece and churros in Spain.
What to remember when checking out street food
Eat where the locals eat. They know what tastes best and is fresh. If you are near a university, students gravitate towards the best food that is reasonably priced. Vendors that have children and seniors in their lines are a good sign, too.
Long lines that are moving along are a good thing. That tells you the vendor serves great food and it’s going to be fresh when you get there. Lines aren’t bad, talk to the locals, make new friends!
Check out the vendor area, is it clean? Is there one person handling the food and one handling the cash? Talking to a vendor and getting a sample is a good thing, taking a sample that has been sitting out — not a good thing. Does the food come with a sauce? Then the vendor should add the sauce rather than you trusting a sauce that’s been sitting out on a counter.
Eat when everyone else is eating even if it means standing in line. You may be thinking you should go see one more thing and then eat… but that means you might be getting food that has been sitting out. Fresh is better.