Street food is a great way to uncover and explore a city’s cultural history and fuel your sightseeing adventures. These three cities take serious pride in their curbside offerings, so make sure you make time for a taste on your next trip.
Slice of life in Palermo, Sicily
Palermo, the capital city of Sicily, has a reputation for some of the best street food in the world, and offers an authentic taste of this Italian island’s food culture. Unpretentious and inexpensive, street food was never a trend here, but a way of life (and survival) for many residents. The best stalls are concentrated near the Vucciria Ballarò and Capo market areas. Palmero’s famous offerings range from thick squares of doughy pizza topped with ingredients like tomatoes, onions, anchovies and casciocavallo cheese at Francu U Vastiddaru, to arancini (fried rice balls mixed with various spices, meats and cheese) at Bar Touring or I Cuochini. You also have to try the fried chickpea flour fritters that reflect Sicily’s North African roots called panelle, and pani ca meusa, the famous fried spleen sandwiches (not for the faint of heart) that you can find just about everywhere. Locals swear by the sandwiches as Rocky Basile’s food cart, aka “King of the Vucciria.”
Where to stay in Sicily
Taco dreams come true in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
It’s no secret that street food in Mexico is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Simple, fresh, affordable and made from recipes passed down for generations, nothing comes close to experiencing the real deal. On the tip of Baja Peninsula – and the regional epicenter of the Baja fish taco – Cabo San Lucas is just one destination in this deliciously rich country where street food reigns supreme. Your first stop is Taqueria el Gran Pastor. It’s strictly standing room only, opens late, stays open later and is popular with the after bar crowds. Spit roasted pork with pineapple, chilies, cilantro and hot sauce (the namesake al pastor taco) is the house specialty, but if pork is not your jam, go for the carne assada, a finger-licking taco made with beef. Taqueria El Paisa is equally a great spot for a late night nosh, for simple, traditional meat tacos: no muss, no fuss. For some of Cabo’s best fish tacos, Taqueria Rossy serves them up breaded and fried, with your choice of shrimp, scallops, or flounder and dressed up at with avocados, chilies, cabbage slaw, onions, and an assortment of sauces (from tomatillo to habanero) at their colorful condiment bar.
Where to stay in Cabo San Lucas
Living it up in Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles is one of the most popular American hubs for street food and there’s plenty of reasons why. Their melting pot of cultures combined with abundance of fresh produce and warm, sunny weather make this oceanside city ideal for chowing down on the streets. Culinary icon Roy Choy is one of the thriving forces behind LA’s street food movement, as well as the creator of the gourmet Korean taco truck, Kogi BBQ, which serves up his famous Mexican/Korean mashup including kimchi quesadillas, Kogi dogs, burritos and tacos.
For one of the most humanely raised hot dogs you’ve ever had, Let’s be Frank, a stand parked at Culver City’s Helms Bakery from Wednesdays to Sundays, does delicious snappy dogs (griddled and topped with grilled onions) and sausages. Quality is paramount here, as all meat is free from hormones, antibiotics or nitrates (go California!). If you’re looking for something on the sweeter side to give you a break from that LA heat, Coolhaus is the street food staple to seek out. Dishing out eclectic flavored ice cream (think beer and pretzel or avocado and sea salt flavors), cookies, ice cream cookie sandwiches and pies, this might just be the coolest desert truck on any block.
Where to stay in Los Angeles
Images: Kogi BBQ; Yulia Grigoryeva, Ahturner/shutterstock.com