Updated: Mar 18
The cost and awesome variety make street food a winner.......But what are other reasons it has become so popular?
You have probably noticed the street food markets and food trucks popping up all over the place in towns and cities near you. From gourmet burger trucks to the latest vegan food pop-up.
So why is street food popular? Mainly because it is relatively cheap and very tasty. However, this is not the only reason why street food has risen in popularity.
Continue reading to find out more.........
12 reasons why street food is popular
It's cheaper than restaurant food
The cost of street food encourages you to try new foods
The food is often very tasty and good quality
Street food is cooked in front of you
You get to try a wide variety of food in one place
New and innovative foods are always being introduced
You can eat street food on the go
It is a social endeavour
Street food goes hand in hand with outdoor entertainment
It's a relatively easy business to get into
1. It's cheaper than restaurant food
The relatively low start-up and running costs for a street food stall or food truck make it easier to be more price competitive.
There are no expensive rents, business rates, utility bills or running costs that are associated with a brick and mortar restaurant.
These savings can therefore be and passed on to the consumer, making street food a very attractive offering.
This shift in the market, also partly explains the number of restaurants that open and close in the first year or two.
2. The cost of street food encourages you to try new foods
Budgets are often tight these days and we are therefore more selective on what we spend our money on.
We want to try that tasty new looking dish in the restaurant but have one eye on the bottom line. Well, the lower cost of street food makes it possible to try that new dish.
3. The food is often very tasty and of good quality
Unlike some big chains, whereas you scale up, the quality of food and service can go down, smaller operators are easier to manage in terms of quality control.
The people cooking your food are also much more likely to be the owner of the stall or food truck - hence they are going to care more about what they produce. Their whole livelihoods depend on it.
The end result is, therefore, good quality, fresh and tasty food.
4. Street food is cooked in front of you
We all know the stories about the shenanigans (I won't go into detail) that can go on in the back of restaurants.
One of the great benefits of street food is that it is made in front of you. You can see exactly how your food is handled, cooked and how clean the kitchen is. For most people, this gives that added peace of mind.
In fact, this transparency helps to raise the standards of food and hygiene in general.
5. You get to try a wide variety of food in one place
Aside from the additional cost, going to a restaurant usually involves choosing one type of national or regional cuisine - be it Indian, Mexican or Italian.
On the other hand, street food vendors or food trucks are usually congregated in the same place at food markets, festivals and a range of outdoor events.
You, therefore, get to a pick from a wide range of international cuisines. So in some places, you can get to try a starter, main and dessert for under $15 (£12) all from a different continent.
Or you could go to the same market once a week and not eat the same food in a 3 month period.
6. New and innovative foods are always being introduced
With the relative ease of setting up a food truck or street food business, comes the introduction of new types of food.
There is the food you may have never heard of, creative food fusions or updated classics created for the modern palette.
Menus can also be more easily adapted and updated to create new offerings.
7. It's authentic
If you are anything like me, I like to see my Pad Thai or Jerk Chicken cooked by someone of Thai or Caribbean heritage.
To me, it suggests I am in safe hands and that the people who are cooking my food know what they are doing. The end result is going to be authentic and not a watered-down version.
8. You can eat street food on the go
Street food is pretty much fast food, in that it is designed to be served quickly for you to grab and go.
So you can get what you want, quickly and eat where you stand or head off to the office or home.
9. It is a social endeavour
Eating has to be one of the most social things we do and has the power to bring people together.
Street food takes this a step further. You are more likely to hang around and chat to friends or the people around you when you have a cluster of food trucks and stalls together.
Add music or entertainment to the mix and you have a winning combination!
10. Street food goes hand in hand with outdoor entertainment
I don't think I have ever been to an outdoor event or festival, as a customer where there were no food trucks.
Outdoor events, in all seasons, come hand in hand with food. From your Xmas food markets to your summer music festivals. We just love food.
11. It's mobile
The nature of mobile food trucks or street food stalls makes it easy to pitch up anywhere there is a demand for food.
Some areas are pretty remote, with not much to offer in terms of food (think office complexes or industrial estates). Food trucks or food markets are therefore a need or welcome addition.
12. It's a relatively easy business to get into
As mentioned at the start of this article, the cost of starting and running a food truck or street food business is significantly lower than having a brick and mortar restaurant.
Combine this with the growing demand from the consumer, you get a cyclical effect with more of these types of business popping up (excuse the pun) to meet this demand.
How to start a street food business.
Popular types of Street food
Pretty much any type of food you can think of is being served at food markets, festivals or sold from food trucks.
Some popular street foods include.........
Gone are the days of burgers sold from dubious roadside trailers. This is now a more gourmet affair.
And even though burgers have been around for a while they are still holding their own on the street food scene.
Some of the longest queues I have seen have been at Persian wrap stalls. Tasty and healthy, the wrap is a perfect grab and go food product.
Those little fried balls made from spiced chickpeas is now one of the most popular street foods in the world.
Have it in a wrap or on its own with salad and a range of sauces.
Asian inspired dumplings, made with a thin dough and various meat and veg fillings.
This is were street food originated from and you are likely to see more Asian inspired food in the future.
This type of food is one of my personal favourites. The taste of jerk chicken or curry goat brings tears of joy to be eyes.
This is also a street food business I and my long time partner was running a few years back.
Steamed Bao Buns
A type of South-East Asian steamed bun (originating from China) filled will a range of spicy meats.
Another one of my personal favourites. Don't just think grilled cheese but also the range of toppings that go inside it. Think avocado and olives to chicken and spicy sausage.
You can get a vegan meat alternative for pretty much anything these days. From your meatiest burger to the humble hot dog.
This is also an offering to watch out for. As vegan diets increase, so will the demand for this type of food from street food vendors or food trucks. I have seen quite a few new vegan stalls open in my area over the last year.
Street food and food trucks have grown massively over the last 5-10 years in the Western world.
This is due in large part to the relatively lower costs, the ease of setting up a stall or food truck and the range of interesting and tasty cuisines now available.
This popularity is likely to continue for the foreseeable future as long as there is a demand for creative and innovative foods.
And don't forget we all need to eat. Food is something that never goes out of fashion.