Finding the Best Street Foods Across America
It’s National Junk Food Day! Can you believe there is a day solely to celebrate junk food? There’s also a National Greasy Foods Day. And National Food Day, but no National Street Foods Day! Why no love for them? I don’t know, but in honor of the street foods in my life, let’s look at the best street food across America.
What is street food you might ask? I like to categorize it as “foods my kid will eat.”
–> Hot dogs
–> Soft pretzels
Are you hungry yet? My mouth is already watering!
Street food is generally defined as ready-to-eat food that is sold on the street or other public location, usually outdoors. Most street food is considered fast food and designed to be consumed while on the go. Since street foods are sold from a stall or truck, they offer super-fast service without the need to sit down in a restaurant setting. Plus, most street foods are of the comfort food variety yet made with fresh ingredients, which is a refreshing take on fast food. And if you aren’t convinced yet? You can eat most street foods with your hands!
Street food is often one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the local culture, whether you are enjoying dirty water dogs on the streets of New York or bao buns in China. There is nothing more local than grabbing a quick bite from a local vendor cooking up their hometown’s signature dishes.
In America, we have regional takes on street food that make some of our standards, like hot dogs, quite different when you taste them across the country. I may not know which version is original or even the best, but I know that across this great country of ours, there are tons of options for you to try and make your own opinions. Let’s take a peek at some of our favorites!
The best lobsters come from the waters off of the coast of Maine. Of course, getting to the wonderful meat of a lobster can be a lot of work. Enter the lobster roll, which is basically a grilled hot dog bun overflowing with lobster salad. Lobster rolls are great for kids because you escape the work of getting the meat out of the shells, plus what kid can resist a hot dog bun? When visiting New England, check out Reds Eats in Wiscasset, Maine, or The Beach Plum in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
When in New York, you cannot miss the blue and yellow Sabrett hot dog stands. Grab a “dirty water dog” and a soft pretzel at least once per trip. There is literally nothing more kid friendly than a hot dog, and you can jazz up your adult version with sauerkraut and the famous New York onion sauce. You can find them on food carts on the street all through the city, or head to the famous Gray’s Papaya for hot dogs and fresh squeezed juice!
While ketchup might be okay in New York, ordering a hot dog in Chicago with ketchup is sure to get people looking at you funny. This is all thanks to the Maxwell Street Polish Sausage, a grilled polish sausage topped with grilled onions and yellow mustard. Jim’s Original, the original Maxwell Street Polish Sausage Stand, just turned 80 years old and their dogs and chops are some of the Chicago area’s most classic street food options. Another iconic Chicago street food is the Chicago style hot dog, topped with cucumbers, tomatoes, neon green relish, mustard, onions, celery salt and sport peppers. Adventuresome kids may go for the full Chicago dog experience, or you can satisfy picky kids with just a plain hot dog on a poppy seed bun.
If your child is a fan of The Princess and the Frog, there is no better street food to get than the beignet, a deep-fried donut covered in powdered sugar. Go to the famous Café Du Monde for your beignets and coffee. New Orleans is also famous for their Po’Boy sandwiches, which are sandwiches with fillings like fried shrimp or oysters, making them a great way for kids to try a new type of seafood while eating something familiar like a sandwich. Head to Guy’s Po’boys or Domilese’s Po-Boy & Bar when in the Big Easy.
Texas cuisine is heavily influenced by their Mexican border, so tacos are a must-have Texas street food, not to mention a food that is often beloved by kids. Since tacos are so easy to customize with a variety of meats and toppings, you are sure to find options that satisfy everyone, from picky eaters to adventuresome future foodies. Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes your selection of tacos throughout the state. We like the idea of this taco trail.
There is a great big country out there to explore, so we could not bring you everything or come even close to sharing all of our favorite American street foods. In fact, if you have a favorite street food that you or your kids loved, share on our Facebook page! We love to hear your travel stories, and the local cuisine that you and your kids tried is a great way to remember the places you have been and the experiences that you’ve had.