One of my favorite travel experiences is to sample an area’s best street food. Some countries are more adept at this culinary treat than others; Southeast Asia for example has elevated street food to a science. I love street food because it provides an honest, unfiltered look into the soul of a region and it doesn’t hurt that the food is usually delicious as well. Street food is a perfect budget alternative because, depending on where you are, it is the cheapest way to eat. Here are some of my favorite street food desserts that you can get for around a dollar.
Marrakech – Morocco in general is a great budget friendly destination, particularly at meal times. My best find in Marrakech was a small ice cream stand located right on the Djemma el Fna, Ice Legend. The constant line at this walkup parlor was what first drew me in. If the people who live there are eating it, then it must be good. For a modest establishment, they had an excellent range of flavors from which to chose; I first went with the orange. The choice was a good one and I found myself returning to the shop several times over the course of our trip. Cost of cone with 1 scoop – 10 dirhams/$1.16 US
Bangkok – Bangkok is a modern city that still manages to enjoy influences from the more far flung areas of the Kingdom. No where is this more evident than in its street food offerings. Whether it be a group of stands near the Thewet pier or one of Bangkok’s famous night markets, it is hard to go wrong with the cornucopia of options available to the hungry visitor. My favorite street food in Bangkok is probably the most simple: pineapple. For a few baht, the vendor will chop part of a fresh pineapple in front of you and deposit the pieces into a plastic bag complete with skewer to facilitate eating. I love fresh pineapple in general, but for some reason the Thai variety is the best in the world. A natural candy, the pineapple found here is so sweet that you wonder if it wasn’t coated in sugar. This refreshing snack is perfect on a hot and humid Bangkok afternoon. Cost of one bag – 10 baht/ $.30-.$40 cents US
Ecuador/Bolivia and other South American countries – While it may not always be easy to find desserts at food stalls in South America, there is one notable exception – the alfajor. This carmel/dulce-de-leche filled cookie is a nice treat after a spicy meal and you can usually find them very reasonably priced. The alfajor is a great choice to pack for a day of adventure and sightseeing. Cost – 2 bolivianos/$.30 cents US
Istanbul – Istanbul is a city of constant surprise, at least it was for me. If any place has a split personality, it would be this one, which I also found to be true in its food offerings. Walking around Istanbul you can find everything from a classic French-style bistro to some delicious street food. (Doner kebab being my absolute favorite) When I was there last year I noticed a strange item, a bread ring that looked like a bagel on crack. Turns out this snack/dessert is called a simit and is a doughnut shaped bread roll covered with sesame seeds. Common throughout Turkey, it isn’t what I would necessarily define as dessert food, but is great with tea or coffee as you take a mid-afternoon break. Cost – 1-2 Turkish Lira/ $.75-$1.32 US
What are some of your favorite street food finds?