Top Towns for Street Food

Decades ago, the only street food available was a hot dog stand or two in most cities. In recent years, the food scene in many major cities has exploded and so has the popularity and availability of new types of street food.
Al fresco food is a culinary gem, and thanks to the pace of modern life, many of us eat on the run, grabbing virtually any type of food, any time of the day. Want to know where to go to taste some of these handmade delicacies?  Here are the top towns in the U.S. for innovative and delicious street food.


New York, NY

New Yorkers practically invented street food in the U.S. — or so they would have you think. But based on the incredible diversity of cuisine available practically 24 hours a day, it’s difficult to refute this idea. Vendors sell food on almost every corner, hawking their interpretation of every cultural expression.

You can get traditional hot dogs and pretzels, Middle Eastern options including falafel, shawarma, and gyros (Halal Guys white sauce is legendary), Belgian waffles (try Wafels and Dinges food truck, which offers both sweet and savory options), and Indian (Biryani Cart boasts the best vegetarian street food options in the city).


San Francisco, CA

San Francisco excels at virtually every type of food due to its diverse population. People have raved so much over the years about the San Francisco street food scene that the city hosts the San Francisco Street Food Festival at Pier 70 every summer. Food trucks and vendors serve everything from Korean-influenced burritos and tacos, to deep fried falafel, to an array of confections including waffles, ice cream and more.

Those who crave street food the other 364 days a year should visit Soma StrEat Food Park, which hosts a rotation of food trucks along with its year-round calendar of events. The dog-friendly park provides free Wi-Fi for those interested in spending some time outdoors working or connecting with friends.


Austin, TX

Anyone who has visited Austin knows there are two things you must do while in town: take in some excellent live music and dig into at least one platter of barbecue. The Texas town is famous for its smoked meats, and the street food scene is no exception. Micklethwait Craft Meats boasts an impressive array of beef ribs, brisket and pulled pork, all smoked to perfection. La Barbecue, a trailer food street favorite, receives great reviews from customers, with the pulled barbecue sandwiches a perennial favorite.

Those looking for something other than barbecue can visit the El Primo Taco truck, which specializes in authentic Mexican breakfast tacos, or SourSop, a popular place that serves delicious Pan Asian dishes. There is even an option for those who prefer their meals meatless at Arlo’s food truck, which specializes in vegan comfort food.


Washington D.C.

DC’s street food scene has exploded in the last decade. The town that formerly subsisted on overpriced steakhouses and boiled hot dogs from carts has officially joined the ranks of cities with some of the best street food in the country.

In Washington, many popular brick and mortar restaurants have food trucks, including Red Hook Lobster Pound, specializing in lobster rolls and lobster BLT’s.

One successful food truck business, TacoKorean, went for both markets, starting off as a food truck and eventually opening three permanent locations in the District. TacoKorean’s food truck, with its signature Korean-Latin fusion tacos, salads and bowls, however, still appears every weekday during lunchtime in downtown D.C.


Portland, OR


As Portland’s restaurant food scene has improved, so too has the street food scene. Hundreds of food trucks and carts in this city offer lunch daily, and the variety of cuisines is incredible.  Portland’s Viking Soul Food was voted one of the best food carts in the U.S. for its unique and delicious Norwegian fare. Try one of its six famous potato flatbreads (known as lefse), which can be made either sweet or savory.

Those craving Middle Eastern food should head straight to “Shawarma Square,” where 10 shawarma food carts compete against each other for customers in a single city block. Popular favorites include Cart Istanbul’s Adana Kebab sandwich and the chicken shawarma at Sam’s Saj.

Los Angeles

L.A. gets a bad rap when it comes to street food, largely due to the prevalence of what many consider an overly health-conscious Hollywood crowd. However, head to South Los Angeles and you will enter a world filled with dim sum, barbecue, soul food, Mexican and Jamaican cuisine.

Many of these options operate off the grid so the locals tend to patronize them. Fortunately, this also means it is a tourist-free zone, perfect for those looking for something authentic. If you are in the area, try Super Tortas D.F. for incredible combo sandwiches and Carnitas El Momo for the best carnitas around.



You can’t go to Philly without ordering a cheesesteak, the ultimate street food in this town. Try a cheesesteak from rivals Geno's and Pat's to determine who really is the King of Steaks. Truthfully you can’t go wrong since both are delicious, but it’s a good story to tell your friends back home. Just make sure you get them made the traditional way — with cheese wiz, not provolone — or “whiz wit” if you want to sound like a local.