Portland, Oregon, US
Welcome to first-class street food in an American second city. Oregon’s capital keeps upping its quick-cook appeal with an ever-burgeoning array of roving food carts that amalgamate in so-called ‘pods’ to spread the joy. Practically every continent is represented – from Korean bulgogi to Philadelphia cheesesteak. Standouts include Viking Soul Food, for weary barbarians hankering after some homestyle lefse (potato flatbread) with meatballs or cured salmon, and the monumental ‘schnitzelwiches’ from Tabor.
What to eat: Everything.
Best time to go: In summer, when the city’s outdoor culture really shines, and you can enjoy street eating far into the night.
Djemaa el-Fna square
An outdoor market at its authentic best, Djemaa el-Fna is a sprawling feast for the senses. By day the square is a bustling provisions and tourist market – with snake charmers and fire-breathers – while sunset sees the crowds flood in and the hot food stalls set up. On offer is a cornucopia of animal parts: sheep’s head, innards, tongue and stuffed camel spleen. Expect to queue for ghoulal (snails in a cumin, anise and oregano broth), and watch where the locals go: you’ll find the best carts by avoiding the hawkers (and the snakes).
What to eat: Snail soup.
Best time to go: October to November, when it’s not blisteringly hot.
This covered food hall (near the basilica) only opened last year, but has already broken new ground in the city’s fiercely traditional culinary landscape. With a mix of new and established traders, pasta, pizza and regional dishes are done traditionally or with contemporary nous. Not even squeamish eaters can resist the lure of Florence’s greatest street food speciality: boiled lower intestines in a crusty bun smothered in salsa verde (‘lampredotto’). And nowhere do they do it better than at the Il Lampredotto counter.
What to eat: Lampredotto.
Best time to go: January to February. It’s a bit chilly, but still beautiful.
A mix of Chinese, Indian and other influences means that there’s way more to Thai food than just red or green curry, and Bangkok is the place to gorge on a variety of street eats. Explore the little-known Lang Suan market near the US Embassy, where it’s hard not to feel like a local among the office workers who come here daily for outstanding, cheap-as-chips pre-prepared dishes, including Thai street-food staples such as som tum (green papaya salad) and khao pod tod (fried corn fritters).
What to eat: Corn fritters with chilli sauce.
Best time to go: If you can handle imperfect weather, try the less touristy April to June off-season.
Stone Town Night Market
Zanzibar City, Tanzania
Attracting a mix of locals and tourists, a visit to this oceanside market will cap off any day on the Swahili coast. So-called ‘Zanzibar pizza’, a local speciality, is a hybrid dish – more a calzone, really, but made with crêpe-like flatbread. Stacked inside is a mixture of onions, peppers, chicken or ground beef, cheese, an egg and mayonnaise – grilled and ready for dipping in hot sauce. If you’re after something more traditional, try the toptier samosas, plus plenty of locally caught fish. Hit the smaller stalls, and be prepared to barter.
What to eat: Samosas.
Best time to go: Avoid the rainy seasons – Mid-March to May and November – if you’re determined to eat outdoors.