A typical street food market puts together great eats, a fun and lively atmosphere, tons of local culture, and massive bang for your buck—all in one place. Street markets are also some of the best places for devoted foodies to find a truly delicious and authentic meal.
Richmond Night Market
It’s only open during the weekends of the spring and summer months,
but Vancouver’s Richmond Night Market overcompensates with one of the most impressive spreads in North America: over 200 stalls and 500-plus food options spread out over 18 acres overlooking the Fraser River. The stalls serve a mainly Asian-inspired menu—grilled octopus, “flying noodles,” and takoyaki included—but also offer its fair share of classic Canadian munchies like “beavertails,” a sugary pastry shaped like its namesake animal part.
Shilin Night Market
The secret is out: the city of Taipei is now known as a major foodie destination, its fame driven by down-to-earth food markets like the Shilin Night Market. This jumble of alleyways near the MRT Jiantan Station in the Shilin District serves up a mix of local favorites, international snacks, and some fusion of the two. Shilin's fryers yield some truly scrumptious surprises: skewers of fried milk balls with a creamy center around a crispy batter skin; giant tumblers of multicolored bubble tea; and oyster omelets, or oysters folded into an egg and potato starch batter.
La Merced Market
La Merced’s eight buildings and massive food halls promise a grueling street food slog that yields some of Mexico’s best heritage street food experiences. You won’t find fast-food-style Mexican on the menu, but you’ll get your fill of exotic experiences like tacos de cabeza, or tacos made from cows’ face meats; caldo de gallina, or hen soup; and a stall selling crispy-fried crickets and escamoles, or ant larvae!
Barcelona’s La Boqueria is the city’s biggest food market, welcoming over 40,000 visitors daily. The crowds attest to the market’s popularity; tapas bars inside the market serve up little bites of Catalan cuisine to eat on the spot. Must-eat spots include Bar Pinotxo, a no-frills tapas place with the best garbanzo beans and blood sausage breakfast in town; El Quim de La Boqueria, notable for its ham croquettes, squid, and fried eggs.
This maze of over 5,000 shops in Istanbul has been around since the 15th century—beyond the perfume oils, carpets, and clothing on offer, you’ll also find some of Turkey’s best street food being served from its stalls. Here, the famous Donerci Sahin Usta serves what is probably Istanbul’s best doner kebab; other little kitchens serve out quick bites like menemen, a traditional omelet with peppers and tomatoes; ayran, a savory yogurt-based drink.
You'll find some sixty restaurants—mainly izakaya-style joints serving grilled meats, beer, and sake—all crammed cheek-by-jowl on narrow smoke-filled alleys taking up half an acre off Shinjuku Station's west exit. The district's name, Omoide Yokocho (Memory Lane), evokes its status as one of Tokyo's last parcels that looks much like it did in the immediate post-war era. In the evenings, Memory Lane's izakaya serve up inexpensive yakitori chicken skewers or nikomi, a Japanese beef tendon stew.
Street food has become central to Portland's mystique, driven by "cart pods" like Cartopia. Since 2008, this collection of food carts has made true believers of the foodies that gather in its Eastside location, scarfing up late-night pick-me-up treats like Potato Champion's twice-fried Belgian-style fries and poutine; and Pyro Pizza's wood-fired Margherita and puttanesca pizzas.