You may not be able to travel the globe right now, but you can bring the flavors of the world into your house.
Since the pandemic started, half of Americans are eating at home more often. Are you out of ideas for this week’s meals? Fire up your grill, get out your air-fryer, stroll the supermarket international aisle, or order in from a new restaurant.
Spice up your meals with inspiration from these 40 fast food items from around the globe.
Translating to sausage bread, this fast-food sandwich is commonly sold by roadside pop-up carts. Made with a french baguette-style mini roll and chorizo sausage, it's served with a variety of toppings like onions, cheese, and a herb vinaigrette sauce.
Australia’s Hamburger with Beetroot
This burger “with the lot” is made of local minced beef, pickled beetroot, sliced pineapple, and other familiar toppings, like ketchup lettuce, tomato, and onion. It used to be on McDonald’s menu as the McOz but today is found in cafes, pubs, and restaurants across the county.
The Bahamas’ Conch Fritters
Made from local sea snails and combined with onions, tomatoes, celery, bell peppers, and spicy Caribbean seasoning, these hushpuppy-like bites are fried until golden brown. The national food of the Bahamas can be found everywhere from roadside stands, casual restaurants, and even luxury hotel dining rooms.
Belgium's Pomme Frites
Despite its common name, French Fries, many believe that this worldwide favorite originated in Belgium. They are a daily staple sold in ‘friteries' and practically every restaurant. Take your pick of dipping sauces from the usual ketchup, and mayo or international remixes like garlic aioli, curry ketchup, and mayonnaise with Tunisian chili.
Bosnia & Herzegovina's Ćevapi
The national dish consists of a 10-piece of grilled minced meat sausages seasoned with simple spices and served on flatbread. They are typically accompanied by onions, sour cream, and ajvar – an eggplant and red pepper condiment.
Brazil’s most popular street food is a teardrop-shaped fried chicken ‘meatball.' Made with shredded chicken and gooey ricotta-like cheese mixed with onions and parsley. They are rolled in batter and breadcrumbs and fried to a golden brown. Served with a variety of condiments like hot sauce and garlic mayonnaise, Coxinha is eaten mostly on the go.
Created in Quebec, the French-speaking province of Canada, this is the ultimate comfort fast food. Large ultra-crispy, yet fluffy, french fries are covered in gravy and cheese curds. It can be found everywhere from roadside stalls to food trucks, fast food chains, and even upscale restaurants.
This Chinese Breakfast sandwich is cooked by street vendors. A thin crepe-like batter of bean or wheat flour is cooked to order and filled with eggs, your choice of vegetables, meat, hoisin, or chili sauces.
Costa Rica’s Casados
Roughly translated to married, this national dish and lunch favorite marries all the best food of the country together on one plate. You can mix and match rice, beans, meat, veggies, plantains, and even some surprising sides like potato salad.
Denmark’s Rød Pølse
Hot Dog stands, or pølsevogns, are everywhere in Denmark and this red-skinned pork sausage is one of the country’s national dishes. This boiled hot dog is served on a bun with familiar mustard, ketchup, onions, and pickles plus remoulade – a European mayo-based condiment with curry and capers. Eat one with a cold Pilsner beer for an authentic Danish meal.
The national dish of Egypt reflects the country’s location – a bridge from Africa to the Middle East, Europe, India, and beyond. This popular vegetarian street food combines rice, lentils, macaroni pasta with spicy cumin tomato sauce, chickpeas, lemon, and fried onions.
El Salvador's Pupusa
Handmade flour tortillas are stuffed with a variety of ingredients like cheese, beans, or meat and fried on a griddle. They can be found in every corner of the country and are even honored with a national holiday in November.
England’s Fish and Chips
Originating over 150 years ago, it’s still a favorite English ‘take away’ with thousands of ‘chippy’ shops across the country and beyond. The battered and freshly fried white fish fillet is served with french fries, a slice of lemon, and a range of dipping sauces from ketchup, malt vinegar, and even curry sauce.
If a hamburger and a sub sandwich had a baby it would be a Porilainen. This white bread sub is made with thick flat jagdwurst sausage, diced onion, pickles, mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise.
These ultra-thin pancakes are made from either wheat or gluten-free buckwheat flour depending on their sweet or savory fillings. For a sweet treat, add powdered sugar, Nutella, fruit, or whip cream. Savory omelet-like options include eggs, ham, and spinach.
These hot dog-like sausages are popular in Germany and around the world. Traditionally made with pork, veal, or beef, they are served with sauerkraut, potato salad, and horseradish. Enjoy one closer to home at Oktoberfest festivals or traditional restaurants in Amish Country.
One of Ghana’s street foods, this kebab style meat is seasoned with suya – a dried spice mix of ground peanuts, cayenne pepper, ground ginger, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. Cooked on a grill and served with rice, plantains, and local vegetables for a complete meal.
Gyro comes from the word to circle or turn, as this popular street sandwich is made from pork or chicken turning on a vertical rotisserie. Crispy pieces are sliced to order and served in a pita with onions, tomatoes, and tzatziki – a yogurt-cucumber sauce.
Shucos is a mix between a hot dog and a taco and can be found in food carts across the country. A long sausage is placed in a soft tortilla or bun and topped with traditional taco fillings like guacamole, onions, tomatoes, chilies, plus ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise.
From the Hawaiian word to slice, this fresh fish dish has modern-day influences from Japanese cuisine. Tuna or salmon is cut and seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, seaweed, onions, and garlic. This umami-rich dish can be eaten alone or as part of a Poke Bowl.
This breakfast burrito is one of the most common, and inexpensive, street foods in Honduras. Made with a tortilla, smashed beans, thick sour cream, and local cheese plus eggs, guacamole, and sausage. Add a dash of hot sauce if you please!
Hong Kong’s Egg Waffle
One of the most popular street snacks in Hong Kong is also known as the bubble waffle. These giant, fluffy waffles come in different flavors and are filled with fruit, spreads, candy, and even ice cream.
India’s Chana Masala
Translating to mixed spiced chickpeas, it is India’s most popular vegetarian dish. Chickpeas are cooked in clarified butter, spices, onions, and tomatoes. Enjoy them with rice, roti, or naan bread.
Considered to be the country’s national dish, it’s a street food vegetarian sandwich. Made from smashed protein-rich chickpeas mixed with parsley, garlic, cumin, and coriander. They are formed into small balls, fried and wrapped in pita bread slathered with tahini or hummus and other sandwich fillings.
Italy’s Pizza Margherita
Every street in Italy has a shop selling delicious pizza by the slice. The version was created to match Italy’s flag colors for Queen Margherita. The combination of fresh dough, crushed ripe tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil is still loved around the world 130 years later.
Jamaica’s Meat Patty
A combination of African, Indian and English influences, Jamaican patties can be found in roadside stalls, cafes, and restaurants throughout the country. A take on British Meat pies, these turmeric colored fried pastries are filled with ground beef seasoned with local scotch bonnet hot peppers, Indian curry powder, onions, and garlic.
Japan’s Tonkotsu Ramen
Whether it's businessmen (with ties slung over their shoulders) eating a post-work snack at a train station cafe or groups of friends gathering for jovial dinners ramen is a beloved fast food in Japan. Tonkotsu ramen is made of slow-cooked pork broth, noodles, soft-yolk eggs, and tender pork belly. Make it your own by adding sour, spicy, or umami toppings.
Mexico’s Tacos al Pastor
This popular street food is made possible by the vertical rotisseries brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants. Pork is marinated in a variety of Mexican chilies, spices, and pineapple and spun on a rotisserie creating crispy pork pieces. They are shaved to order and added to soft flour tortillas with onions, cilantro, chilies, salsa, and even more pineapple.
Mozambique’s Peri Peri Chicken
If you’re a fan of Nando’s then you know why this spicy dish is so popular! Chicken is marinated in a sauce made from local peri peri chilis, spices, garlic, and lemon juice. Grilled or roasted over a large fire it is often served with french fries. Grab pre-made bottles of peri peri sauce to spice up your home-cooked meals!
This recent fast-food creation illustrates Dutch’s multicultural population. It’s made with Pom Frites from Belgium, shawarma meat from the Middle East, and melted local Gouda cheese. Top it off with lettuce, garlic sauce, and sambal hot sauce from Indonesia.
What started as a vegetarian stuffed dumpling for holiday meals, the national dish of Poland now has a variety of sweet and savory fillings. Varieties include potato, chicken, cheese, mushroom, meat, and cabbage as well as strawberries and blueberries. Top it off with sweetened sour cream or even bacon!
Most commonly known as the thin pancake portion of blintz, this wheat flour crepe is Russian fast food that’s deeply ingrained in the culture. Add a variety of toppings from sour cream, jam, savory meats, and of course, caviar.
Singapore’s Hainanese Chicken Rice
First created by Chinese immigrants, it’s now one of the country's national dishes. This meal is made up of rice, chicken, chili sauce and garnished with vegetables, cucumber, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Hainanese Chicken Rice can be found at street vendors and in food courts across the country.
South Africa’s Koeksister
This glazed doughnut-like snack can be found on almost every street in South Africa. Braided strips of dough are fried and then covered in a sweet glaze. Locals top them with cinnamon or lemon juice.
South Korea’s Bibimbab
Born as a way to use leftovers, this dish is South Korea’s comfort food. Mix rice, meat, and vegetables with gochujang – a spicy, savory, and sweet fermented condiment. Top it off with a raw or hard-cooked egg.
Thailand’s Pad Thai
A common street food dish consisting of stir-fried rice noodles, your choice of meat, a scrambled egg, bean sprouts, and vegetables. It’s cooked in a wok, with a tamarind based sauce and topped with peanuts and lime juice. This national dish combines sweet, salty, and sour flavors for a delicious, and fast, meal.
It’s a super-thin, crunchy ‘pizza.’ Semolina dough is topped with beef or lamb, onions, tomatoes, and a variety of spices like cayenne, cinnamon, paprika, but never any cheese. It’s cooked in an ultra-hot oven and then topped with a squeeze of lemon juice.
This iconic red-hued soup is beloved well beyond Europe. It even lends its name to The Catskills’ Borscht Belt, a region made famous, again, by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The country’s renowned dish is made from beetroot and fermented beet juice, meat stock, and a variety of vegetables.
United States’ Cheeseburgers
Sold all across the country, and the world, this beloved fast food is All-American. Make your perfect cheeseburger from a toasted bun, ground beef patty, melted American or cheddar cheese, tomatoes, pickles, onions, lettuce, mustard, and ketchup. Ingredients forever immortalized by the catchy “Two All Beef Patties” jingle.
A sub-like sandwich influenced by the country’s former French rule, Banh-Mis can be found in food carts and stalls across the county. Take a french baguette, slather on spicy chili sauce and mayo, add sliced pork or pork belly as the cold cuts, and pile high cilantro, pickled vegetables, and chilis.
Monica Fish helps her fellow adventurers live a financially savvy life so they can travel and explore our beautiful world no matter their budget. She writes about smart timeshare ownership, vacation tips and tricks, NYC Metro Area trips and activities, and frugal, yet rich, living at PlannerAtHeart.com.