America is filled with delicious and popular street foods thanks to its multicultural population. Burgers, hot dogs, bagels, and many more different and unique meals can be found in every corner of your city. Whether in a food stand or a food truck, street vendors serve some of the greatest feasts in the world.
Some of these street foods made their way up the chain and became fast food items available all across the globe, while others remain exclusive street delicacies. Street food has spread in recent years thanks to its authentic nature, and many people started to travel and track down the best ones in every place they visit. America has a rich food scene with expressions of different cuisines in every state and city. So, we have listed the most popular street foods in the US and which ones you need to try.
The US is home to many different street foods from all around the world. It offers a quick, convenient, and affordable way to enjoy various delicious meals. From classic hot dogs and pretzels to special regional foods, like cheese steaks and Tex-Mex tacos, the street food scene in the US is diverse and full of flavor. Here are 17 of the most famous ones!
Hamburgers can be considered the official symbol of American cuisine. Even if they did not originate in the US, it is a fact that they became a significant part of the country. Burgers are some of the most popular street foods in the world, and you can find all sorts of burgers across the US.
2. Tacos and Nachos
Tacos and nachos are traditional Mexican snacks. Their crispy texture and delicious fillings made them quite famous. Thanks to the Mexican influence, they can be found in many cities and states. San Diego is said to have some of the best tacos in the country. You might also get lucky in cities closer to the Mexican border and run by Mexicans.
Doughnuts are the sweetest street foods out there. They are made with fried dough, filled with cream, and covered with icing. They became especially popular with tv shows depicting cops eating them on stakeouts. They come in many flavors and many different decorations. You can grab a box and sit in your car to enjoy the scenery.
4. Sliced Pizza
Pizza is possibly the most popular street food in the world. Even though they are now found in fast food chains and big shops, pizza food trucks are still roaming the streets. This Italian dish has become more American with large slices and varied ingredients. Now it is possible to find pizza types named after American cities and states such as Hawaii, Chicago, and New York. Don’t miss the chance to try some interesting pizzas if you come across a pizza vendor.
5. Hot Dogs
Hot dogs are common snacks in sports games and birthday parties. They can be found in almost every pub in the States, but it is a safe bet to claim they taste the best when bought from a street cart. Hot dogs seem straightforward initially, but this snack has many different versions. While the classic American hot dog will be served with a line of mustard and ketchup on top, other cities created their own toppings.
Seattle like grilled onions and cream cheese, Boston steam cooks the sausage instead of grilling, Carolina has slaw and chili among its many toppings, and Pennsylvania wraps the sausage in bacon. The possibilities are endless, and you can find a different version of hot dogs in every state you visit.
6. Polish Boy
Polish Boy might not be as famous as the rest of the foods on this list, but it is still a big deal, especially in Ohio. They are another version of hot dogs; some even consider it an upgrade. They include fries and barbecue sauce as toppings and can be found in many restaurants and street carts. You can try one and decide whether you like the classic or the polish Boy better.
7. Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese is a favorite takeaway truck food and a common side dish to many meals. Essentially, it’s made with macaroni and a lot of cheese, but you can add different toppings, such as bacon or vegetables.
Burritos are common Mexican foods in the US. They are chicken, or meat wraps with many other ingredients. Burritos are often sold from food trucks; you can choose which ingredients to add to your wrap. Rice, salsa, sour cream, beans, lettuce, and more can be found in the display cabinet of your vendor. Once you choose your stuffing, you can grab your hot wrap and be on your way.
Falafel is a relatively new addition to the American street food world. Originating from the Middle East, falafel quickly became a favorite among people. It is made with fried chickpeas or fava beans and has a crunch texture. Falafel is often served wrapped in pita, a traditional type of bread, and it is a great vegetarian option for street foodies. It is filling and quite delicious.
Churros are fried dough sticks that are covered in sugar. They originated in Spain and Latin America and are often served with a cup of chocolate as dipping. If you are on the road and craving something sweet, they can be the perfect little snack.
11. Corn Dog
A corn dog is a common snack at fairs and carnivals, but you don’t need a special event to enjoy the taste of this popular street food. You can find corn dogs, which are fried and battered hot dogs, in street carts.
12. French Fries
French fries ironically originated in Belgium. However, the name stuck, and now it’s consumed as French fries across the US. These fried potatoes have been the side dish to many main courses over the years and continue to be a favorite among children. You can find some great vendors and even choose toppings for your fries, such as different condiments or cheese.
13. Döner and Shawarma
Döner and Shawarma are two similar yet distinct foods. Döner originated from Turkey, while Shawarma is a famous Middle Eastern dish. They are identical in terms of their cooking methods. In both meals, the meat is cooked on vertical, rotating rotisseries. They are later sliced into thin layers of meat and served wrapped in some bread.
While they resemble each other in theory, the seasonings and toppings create two distinct tastes. Döner is often accompanied by tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce, while Shawarma includes hummus, tahini sauce, and fattoush. They are both incredibly delicious and some of the most popular street foods that originated from the Middle East.
14. Soft Pretzel
Soft pretzels might not be the most popular street foods, but many people enjoy them. They are often bought in the morning as a fast breakfast or at other times as small, filling snacks. You can also find them in bakeries and breakfast cafes.
15. Grilled Cheese
Grilled cheese is a staple among American comfort foods, and it is possible to find them on your street. While it is an easy food to make, the sheer quality of the materials used by your vendor can make a huge difference in your experience of this comfort food.
Cheesesteaks are some rare popular street foods with a clear origin story. They originated in Philadelphia about a century ago. Pat Olivieri decided to grill some steaks and onions and put them in buns. The cheese was added later, and cheesesteaks became a famous street food all across the states. It’s a must to try this snack if you ever visit Philadelphia.
Dumplings are a gift to the world from Asian cuisine. They are cheap and delicious and a staple in student houses. The best ones of this popular street food can be found in Chinatowns.
Countries with Other Popular Street Food
Street food is a common concept across the world. They are convenient ways to get delicious food, and each country has something special. As a multicultural country, America is home to many cuisines, but some countries stand out with the sheer amount of foods that originated there. While it is hard to decide which one is the best, the following countries and regions definitely have some of the most popular street foods in the world:
- Mexico and Latin America
- Middle East
- South Korea
The United States of America is home to millions of people from different origins. This diversity is reflected in many things, from architecture to traditions, and street food is one of the biggest reflections. You can find tasty and popular street foods all over the country and enjoy some of the best meals of your life right down your street. Whether you are a tourist or a local, you should try these iconic dishes to taste American street food at its best!