Sidewalk vendors, push carts, holes in a wall - even in cities with rich reputations for fine dining, some of the best meals are on the streets. Here are the 23 best cities in the world for street food according to CNN.

1. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand Bangkok's Chinatown is one of the best city districts for street food.

It's impossible to avoid street food in Bangkok, where sidewalk vendors in different parts of the city operate on a fixed rotation.

Some take care of the breakfast crowd with sweet soymilk and bean curd, others dish up fragrant rice and poached chicken for lunch.

The late-night crowd offers everything from phad thai noodles to grilled satay.

Chef Van, of the French brasserie 4Garcons on Thong Lor Soi 13 in Bangkok, favors street food in Chinatown -- known locally as "Yarowat."

He recommends hoy tod nai mong, a crisp fried mussel pancake: "The chef and owner makes them one by one on the charcoal stove."

Another favorite: Kuay tiew kai soi sai nam phung: "It is noodle soup with chicken wing stew with young egg and pork intestine! I've had it since I was a kid."

2. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than any city in the world, but Japanese cuisine often gets reduced to one thing: sushi.

Tokyo food lover Taro Namekawa likes to bring guests somewhere different, Teppen: Nakameguro, for grilled food.

"They are very famous for grilling extremely fresh ingredients in front of you, with special kinds of charcoal that can grill fresh ingredients with high heat quickly to trap all the goodness of them inside."

They serve sushi too, but the grilled meats and vegetables draw in young and old Japanese diners, especially workers on their way home.

"I like this place because it gives a surprise element to my foreign guests when they visit town."

It also has the benefit of being near the Meguro River, one of Tokyo's most beautiful spots for flower watching.

3. Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii Rainbow shaved ice is a Hawaiian street classic.

Hawaiian food is a creative mishmash of cuisines, combining local traditions with the culinary tastes of successive waves of migrants from the mainland United States, Asia and Latin America.

The result includes an array of raw fish salads known as poke (poh-kay), as easily available as a sandwich in other cities.

Tuna and octopus are the two most typical options, prepared with flavors inspired by everything from kimchi to ceviche.

The city also has a thriving food truck culture.

The best is a bit of a drive.

On the Kamehameha Highway in Haleiwa on the North Shore, a shaded parking lot full of trucks gives a culinary tour of Hawaii.

Giovanni's Shrimp Truck covers shrimp in a sauce filled with chunks of caramelized garlic.

It's so good that it's become a cliched place to visit -- except that Giovanni's really is delicious.

Opal Thai churns out phad thai that would make a Bangkok vendor jealous, while Mike's Huli Huli Chicken schools visitors in the right way to prepare a Hawaiian classic.

4. Durban, South Africa

Perhaps it's because of Durban's lovely year-round weather, or maybe it's the Indian influence, but the city is southern Africa's reigning street food champ.

Local culture and cuisine is a blend sourced from Zulu, Indian and white South Africans, who each bring a little something to the mix.

The city is known for its curries, which over the generations have adapted to South African ingredients and tastes.

Little Gujarat, on Prince Edward Street downtown, is a humble but revered institution that remains true to the classic Tea Room takeaway, says Louis Foerie, a Durbanite and tireless advocate for the city.

It's vegetarian-only, and offers the distinctly Durban bunny chow -- a hollowed out half-loaf of bread filled with curry, like an edible takeaway container.

Sunrise Chip & Ranch, better known as Johnny's Rotis, is open 24 hours a day for comforting rotis.

"It's great to soak up the munchies, said Foerie. "The ultimate Durban street food experience supported by generations."

Afro's Chicken, which sits by the beach, grills up its poulet to order and offers shaded seating with an ocean breeze.

5. New Orleans, Louisiana

There's a saying in Louisiana that the gas stations serve better food than some of the country's finest restaurants.

For locals, street food first conjures images of the once ubiquitous Lucky Dog cart, made famous (or more aptly, infamous) in "A Confederacy of Dunces."

That's certainly an experience, but closer to the mark is a plate lunch, served up at gas stations and convenience stores.

Debates over where to get the best plate lunch can rival the passions reserved for truly important things -- like football.

Traditionally plate lunches meant comfort food like red beans and rice, served with andouille sausage and a heavily buttered slice of French bread.

Or perhaps a muffuletta from Central Grocery, famous for the sandwiches brought in by Sicilian immigrants.

More recent waves of migration have helped entrench taqueria trucks and pho noodles just as firmly into the city's street food scene.

For visitors seeking something distinctly New Orleans, chef Gigi Patout recommends fried alligator from Acme Oyster House.

"We always said it tastes like chicken," she said.

For something sweet, she suggests the New Orleans School of Cooking for pralines.

"They're made in front of you, it makes you want to buy them."

6. Istanbul, Turkey

The most recognizable Turkish street food is probably simit -- like a cross between a bagel and a pretzel.

Freshly baked, dipped in molasses and crusted with sesame seeds, they entice snackers from push-carts all over Istanbul.

Istanbul's street food offerings stretch far beyond.

Because so many people from around Turkey and the region migrate here, the city's sidewalks are a walkable sampler platter.

Durum are basically kebabs turned into wraps.

They can appear on menus of fine restaurants, but just as easily on street corners.

Turkish pizza, properly called lahmacun, presents a simple but satisfying meal at all hours of the night.

Under-appreciated overseas, Turkish ice cream is ubiquitous and immensely satisfying, especially in pistachio.


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