Don’t be afraid to try it
Many tourists overlook street food because they’re worried about hygiene or the quality of the food. That is a mistake!
Having traveled extensively—we, here at EndlessTurns, can honestly say that some of the best food we’ve ever had was from a street vendor in one country or another. We would even go so far as to say that street food vendors are food ambassadors. They provide a simple and honest sampling of food from around the world. From the guy selling falafel on the corner in Time Square, NYC to the guys cooking up empanadas in Santiago, Chile—each vendor provides a glimpse into a whole genre of foods and flavors. Street food is like the tip of the iceberg to almost any type of ethnic food. Take the simple taco truck for example. We all love a good taco truck but those tacos are only a sample of how amazingly diverse and complex Mexican food can be. It’s the same with all street food. You just have to try it.
Follow these simple suggestions to make sure you’re getting the good stuff and not some hotdog that’s been sitting in boiling water for hours.
- Look for vendors with folks lined up to eat there
- Make sure the line has a few locals in it (100% tourists = tourist trap)
- Look at the menu (a handwritten menu is a good sign—typically they change based on the availability of fresh ingredients)
- Follow your nose & look for fresh ingredients
- Ask some locals for recommendations
This last tip is probably the most important. Avoid street food in places that are major tourist attractions. Just like restaurants in these areas, they’ll be overpriced and marginal at best. Instead, take a 10-15 minute walk away from tourist spots and start asking locals where they would eat. Make sure to let them know what type of food you’re looking for so they can be more specific. If more than two locals mention the same place, you’ve got a winner.