By Jessica Russo
One of the best parts of vacation is the food. Oftentimes, however, it's one of the most expensive parts. Have no fear! The world is filled with culinary capitals, and many of them won't break the bank. Here's where you can feast like royalty for peasant prices.
Most people may not immediately think of Italy when they think "budget vacation," but a foodie can find some seriously good, seriously cheap eats in Rome. Of course, a classic city like Rome boasts tons of fine dining restaurants and unique eateries, but its charming streets are lined with small, family-run cafes, pizzerias, and trattorias, which offer options like fresh crusty pizza, prosciutto panino, and cheesy, mouthwatering foccacia. Sure, a nice sit-down dinner in Rome may not exactly be wallet-friendly, but with tons of delicious options around every corner, you'll be able to taste a lot for a little. As we like to say, Rome is perfect for every budget. It all depends on how you spend!
P.S. Did we mention that in Italy wine is cheaper than soda? That's right! For only a few Euro, you'll be able to enjoy a smooth glass of local vino.
Authentic pad thai for $1? Uhh, yes please! Roaming the streets of Bangkok, it will not take long to smell sizzling street food. For just a few USD, you and your travel partners will be able to feast like kings and queens. From spicy tom yum soup to curry chicken and fried rice, savoring the flavors of Thailand will barely put a dent in your travel budget.
The gem of South Africa has sprouted into one of the trendiest cities on the map. Each day, the streets of Cape Town come alive with spirited bars, chic eateries, and vibrant markets. Because of the favorable exchange rate, a traveler can sit down in a nice restaurant for dinner and order an entree that costs about 100 Rand. 100 sounds like a lot! Guess what? 100 Rand is equivalent to about $6.50 USD. Even if you order a steak at one of Cape Town's fanciest restaurants, you'll probably spend something like $20.
While in South Africa, be sure to try traditional dishes like Chakalaka, Bobotie, and Bunny Chow (don't worry, it's not actually made of bunnies). For another wallet-friendly (and dee-licious) option, party it up with locals at a braai! This South African version of a barbecue always promises good vibes and good food.
The buzzing city of Hanoi takes street food seriously. At just about any hour of the day, you'll find local vendors serving up savory Vietnamese classics like pho, banh mi, bun cha, xoi, and much more. Around every corner, you'll find busy cafes with tiny tables and chairs spilling out into the street. With each dish averaging about $2, you'll be able to taste and sample to your heart's content.
Ahh, the quintessential Peruvian dish - sweet, sweet ceviche. While you may think a dish this fresh and beautiful would be expensive, exchange rates say otherwise. Okay, okay - food in Lima costs more than 1 or 2 dollars, but it is nowhere near as expensive as food in the US and most of Europe. Be sure to try cuy (yes, it's guinea pig - just close your eyes), lomo saltado, picarones, and other Peruvian specialties.
One tip: When you're in the mood for ceviche, be sure to order it at a restaurant that's a little more upscale, or one that's beloved by locals. The fish in ceviche is raw, and you want to be sure you're getting the good stuff.
This culture-packed city has crept its way up to earn the title of Morocco's culinary capital. Studded with romantic restaurants and cozy cafes, Fez offers mouthwatering food at a scrumptious price. While many nicer restaurants offer entrees that average at about 7 Dirham ($7.25), there are tons of even cheaper options throughout the city. Hit the square for spectacular street food! Try a hearty bowl of bessara for less than $1, eggplant fritters for less than 50 cents, and mini-chicken kebabs called "brochettes" for around $3. Don't worry, you'll consume enough couscous, tajine, and mint tea to last you til your next trip to Morocco.