Embracing the local cuisine is part of the joy of travel and it’s often cheaper and a lot more fun than room service or McDonalds. Rather than wasting time searching for the best of the best, head to these streets for a greatest hits version of each city.
Brick Lane, London
Graffitied brick walls and unassuming shopfronts house London’s best exercise in food multiculturalism. A sort of “Little Bangladesh” due to its large Bangladeshi population, the strip is known for its affordable, fragrant plates of authentic curries that saturate the air with spicy aromas. The famous Beigel Bake bakery is a must-visit for freshly boiled bagels with a wide range of fillings, although salt beef is a highlight. The street is particularly bustling on a Sunday when there is a clothing and knick-knack market, but the crowded curry houses are open every other day.
Khaosan Road, Bangkok
A fluorescent mishmash of local colour and backpacker antics, this crowded street mixes go-to Western chains like McDonalds and Burger King with Pad Thai joints and street hawkers. The short street was formally a rice market and you can still purchase traditional market fare, like local fruit or, for the more adventurous, dried insects.
Smith Street, Melbourne
This urban foodie paradise has seen an explosion of good restaurants taking up residence over the past five years. Favourites like the cosy modern Thai restaurant Easy Tiger and popular cocktail and snack haunt The Black Pearl have gained crowd-pleasing neighbours like Sydney institution Gelato Messina and George Calombaris’ mouthwatering souvlaki spot Jimmy Grants (ok, technically it’s just off Smith Street but it’s close enough to count). You’d have to be a gluten-free kosher vegan to not find something you like and, hey, Smith Street might even cater to you as well.
Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
This lengthy shop and cafe-strewn road, straight off the L train, is a hipster’s delight. Trendy boutiques are dotted between nice restaurants pushing fried chicken and waffles (Sweet Chick), artisan ice cream (the regular Van Leeuwen truck) and tacos (Vera Cruz). Of course, there’s also the New York essential: bottomless brunches (Station). Head there on a Sunday morning for an uber-cool neighbourhood vibe and non-stop mimosas.
Gouger Street, Adelaide
With both Adelaide’s huge Central Market and Chinatown on the side of the road, Gouger Street offers boundless opportunities for a good feed. The main street is known for its multicultural offerings, with award-winning restaurants (like the Chinese Concubine) offering everything from Malaysian to Argentinian. If you grow tired of sampling restaurant fare, head through the southern entrance of the indoor market for fresh produce from friendly vendors.
Rue des Rosiers, Paris
Right in the heart of the Jewish quarter in the Marais, this narrow street is a hotspot for Middle Eastern, Yiddish and Kosher food. This surprising enclave of culture in the city of love has a rich but also tragic history, including violent attacks by the Nazis during World War Two. Today, it pulls crowds of people due to its competitive falafel vendors. L’As du Fallafel – translated to “The Ace of Falafel” – lives up to it’s name by continuing to be the cream of the crop, with lunchtime lines extending down the cramped street. Nearby Yiddish bakeries offer the perfect post-falafel pick-me-ups.
Güneşli Bahçe Sokak, Istanbul
On the Asian side of this sprawling city, this little-known street is a local gem. But thanks to world-renowned chef Musa Dagdeviren, who has placed his three hip restaurants on the winding strip, it is quickly becoming a foodie tourist destination. Dagdeviren’s three eateries – Çiya Kebap, Çiya Kebap II, and Çiya Sofrasi – offer a modern take on classic home-style Turkish food, with eggplant dolmas, tangy tabouli (called kisir) and rich stews on the menu.
Temple Street, Hong Kong
The delightfully long strip of night market stalls which pop up every evening on this Kowloon Street are like an authentic, epic version of Chinatown. Overwhelming the senses with variety and savvy salespeople, Temple Street is an undeniable tourist trap in the best way possible. However, if you’re able to push past the vendors selling jade bracelets and knock-off designer goods, you can score a delicious dinner from the dai pai dong (open-air stalls). Small restaurants also line the street, offering seafood and rice hotpots for affordable prices on plastic tables.
Jemaa el Fna Square, Marrakesh
Jemaa el Fna is the main square of this Moroccan city and to describe it as bustling would be a huge understatement. As the city centre becomes blanketed with darkness, more and more food stalls pop up until it becomes a full-fledged night market. Snake charmers give way to couscous vendors and those selling dried insects for the more adventurous tourists. The heavily laden carts are a photographers dream and the energy alone is enough to feast on.
Ráday utca, Budapest
This pedestrian street has only recently experienced a boom in restaurants and cafes, to the point where you’re still more likely to find locals than tourists wandering from awning to awning. The leafy green overlay conceals a huge variety of eating options, from Costes, the first Hungarian restaurant to receive a Michelin star, to Paris, Texas, a dark, smokey bar ideal for people watching. In the evening, the area becomes a lively spot for locals and students from nearby universities and you can get your late-night fix from outdoor taverns and affordable pizza restaurants like Pink Cadillac.