There are few things more satisfying than stumbling across something absolutely delicious that doesn’t break the bank.
While dining out is becoming ever more expensive, in every city around the world there are institutions churning out tasty treats at an affordable price. Some of these delicacies are local fortes, whilst others have developed into national treasures. All are cheap, cheerful, and great to eat. Here are seven of the best cheap eats from around the world.
1. Smoked Salmon Bagel - Brick Lane, London
When compared to strongholds such as New York, London does not have a particularly vibrant tradition of bagel making. However, there is one street that proves that Britain can stand with the best of them. Brick Lane in East London may be most famous for its curry houses, but it’s the legendary 24h Beigel Bake bakery that draws crowds of tourists and locals every day. With reasonable prices and exceptional food, this is a must visit for any true food fan.
2. Hawker Stalls - Maxwell Food Centre, Singapore
Few regions do street food quite like Asia. Though every country on the continent boasts a proud tradition of cheap eats, for sheer variety and quality it’s tough to beat the Hawker stalls of Singapore. Stacked side-by-side in centres across the city, there are several destinations to entice the hungry traveller, but the most highly regarded is probably Maxwell. Here, you can dine on the legendary red snapper head curry, as well as an array of other delicacies, all for under $5.
3. Picarones - Miraflores, Lima
These sweet potato doughnut rings are a staple of Peruvian cuisine. Though they are popular throughout the country, it’s the street vendors of Lima who have elevated them to a fine art. The best place to go hunting for a post-dinner/late night doughy snack is probably in the affluent Miraflores district, where wealthy clientele demand the best from their street vendors at a still reasonable price.
4. Banh Mi - Various, Hoi An
Vietnam has one of the most fascinating culinary heritages of any country in Asia. Thanks to French colonial influences, European cooking techniques combine with local ingredients in a whirlwind of East-meets-West fusion. Vietnam’s signature sandwich, banh mi, is a great example. Invented in Hoi An, locals swear that the small, sleepy town is the only place to go for the real banh mi experience, which can be found in any of the litany of local street sellers.
5. Tonkatsu - Various, Tokyo
Though it would be easy to go to Japan and eat nothing but sushi, there’s far more to this cooking culture than raw fish. Anyone on the hunt for a new dimension to Japanese cookery should look no further than tonkatsu. Crispy fried cutlets of meat are significantly cheaper than their fishy rivals and are guaranteed to please every palate.
6. Pintxos Bars - Old Town, San Sebastian
There are few cities on earth that can rival the culinary reputation of San Sebastian. Though the city may boast some of the best restaurants on the planet, it’s the legendary pintxos bars that really take it to the next level. Serving small, bite-sized morsels such as pigs ear and bread, mushrooms, king prawns, cream and cava and anxtoas of apple and urchin, one trip here will guarantee you never look at cheap food the same way again.
7. Bacon, egg and cheese on a roll - Various, New York
Enjoying a cheap eat isn’t always about spending hours searching street stalls for the perfect late night snack. Sometimes, it’s all about speed. When it comes to fast food that doesn’t taste like it was made in a factory, it’s tough to beat New York’s approach to breakfast sandwich building. The BEC is a staple on deli and bodega menus across the city and is the ultimate speedy and affordable morning snack.
In a world where we’re increasingly used to spending loads on any meal out, finding something cheap and delicious can be a little disconcerting. As these seven selections prove, however, it’s perfectly possible to enjoy great food without taking out a mortgage.