7 Places to Feed your Inner Foodie on a Budget
travel food

San Francisco, California, USA

Known as the “City by the Bay”, San Francisco’s food scene is sure to wow all travelers, from the lavish spender, to the frugal backpacker. The city’s history as a major west coast fishing port, and location in one of California’s key agricultural regions, makes food in San Francisco some of the best you’ll taste. From Italian, to Chinese, and Mexican, to Indian, San Francisco is a foodie’s city with something sure to please everyone.

Are you on a tight budget? Check out the city’s “Little Saigon” where Vietnamese cuisine is cooked up with the absolute freshest ingredients for a budget friendly price. Or head over to the “Mission” the city’s historic Mexican-American neighborhood, where affordable cafés and authentic taquerías can be found on almost every street corner. Want to splurge just a little? Take a trip over that famous bridge to Sausalito, where higher end restaurants face the bay. While there you can leisurely enjoy the sea breeze, rub elbows with the city’s wealthy residents, and pretend for now that you can afford more than just a cup of gelato.

Istanbul, Turkey

For me, Istanbul like for many North Americans or other foreigners seems like an ancient city, reminiscent of settings found in fairy tales. However, don’t let this city’s charm and history be mistaken for outdated restaurants and recipes. Istanbul is full of establishments and food vendors that bring together traditional Turkish cuisine with a modern flair.

Trying to keep to your strict budget? Go to Istanbul’s Beyoglu neighborhood where Turkish street cafés, Doner Kebab restaurants, Dondurma vendors (Turkish ice cream), Pide shops (think Turkish pizza), and Turkish delight sweet shops line ?stiklal Avenue. However, as every budget traveler knows it’s important to splurge every once in a while. Gourmet establishments litter Istanbul, and cuisine from around the world as well as modern twists to classic Turkish dishes can be found in neighborhoods around the city. Luckily, as one of the busiest streets in Istanbul, Beyoglu’s ?stiklal Avenue has options suited to every traveler’s budget.

New York, NY

As a native New Yorker I don’t think I could compose this list without including a little bit of my hometown bias. As an international commercial and cultural epicenter, New York City has some of the best restaurants and food vendors around. Whether it’s late night pizza at one of Midtown’s 24 hour pizzerias, vegetarian Chinese food in Flushing, or a hotdog and funnel cake on the Coney Island boardwalk, New York City appeals to everyone’s inner foodie.

Stay on budget by exploring the city’s outer boroughs. Although there are some fantastic cheap eats in Manhattan, you’ll find the farther from the bright lights you go the further your dollar will too. Not to mention you’ll have the chance to explore parts of the city that rarely appear in tourist’s guidebooks. Some neighborhoods with good eats include: Jackson Heights, Queens where you’ll find everything from South American bakeries, Indian restaurants, and Irish Pubs; Williamsburg, Brooklyn where your inner foodie can meet your inner artist at chic cafes and up and coming bars and restaurants; and Forest Hills, Queens where great restaurants, shops, and easy subway access make for every traveler’s ideal neighborhood. If you’re looking for something you’ll find only in New York, try a classic Brooklyn Egg Cream, a fountain drink made of chocolate syrup, soda water, and milk.

Aqaba, Jordan

Aqaba is famous for Lawrence of Arabia’s siege during Arab Revolts and its shoreline on the Red Sea, which provides visitors with the closest to a Caribbean-like atmosphere in Jordan. Seafood restaurants in Aqaba are among my favorite, but if seafood’s not for you International restaurants and pubs, including English, Italian and Chinese cuisine can be found in the city center. Some of the more popular seafood restaurants in Aqaba provide reasonably priced dishes, Middle Eastern mezze, and are within walking distance from the city’s budget hotels.

As a duty-free zone, shopping in Aqaba is more affordable than in the rest of the country. So after a long day of shopping unwinding and indulging in fine food is the best way to spend an evening in the city. I recommend exploring the city’s souks and marketplaces to find everything from Arabian sweets, Middle-Eastern Coffee, spices and nuts; perfect reminders of your time in Aqaba.

Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam, like many cities in Asia has numerous options for the foodie on a budget. I have even heard that in Southeast Asia, a budget traveler can eat quite well without ever entering a restaurant, and the street food in Hanoi is proof.

Famous for dishes including bún ch?, grilled pork soup served in fish sauce, and ph? a noodle soup that is a crucial part of Vietnamese breakfast, Hanoi’s street food is colorful and incorporates fresh ingredients with traditional fare. Popularized in Western countries by Vietnamese immigrants, be sure to try an authentic Vietnamese style sandwich called bánh m? tr?ng. The sandwich is served in a baguette and filled with fresh herbs, meat, and chili sauce, which makes for any budget traveler the perfect breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

La Parguera, Puerto Rico

The small town of La Parguera in Lajas Puerto Rico is famous for its natural beauty and wonders. Visitors are attracted to the town for its prime dive spots, and its bioluminescent bay. Caused by micro-organisms called dinoflagellates that illuminate when the water is moved, the best time to see the phosphorescent effect is on dark moonless nights when you’ll notice a shimmering glow in the Caribbean waters near the mangroves.

With natural wonders that attract visitors from around the world, La Parguera is also one of my favorite spots on the island to score fantastic and affordable food and drink. Try any one of the town’s seaside restaurants and cafes for traditional Puerto Rican fare including: empanadillas, a fried pastry filled with meat, seafood or cheese; alcapurrias, yautía and plantain finger food filled with meat or fish; bacalaítos, battered and fried fish; Puerto Rican escabeche; and mofongo, a green plantain mash made with garlic, and served with meat or fish broth. To end your night on a high note buy a cup of sangria or a piña colada from Sangria Marca Coño, in my opinion, the best place on the island for a well-mixed fruity drink.

Montreal, Canada

Montreal, Canada is the kind of city that will satisfy all of your senses, with historic sights, live music, and fine food to fit every traveler’s budget. Even the grocery stores in Montreal provide quality foods and ingredients that will have you conserving funds to cook your own meal in a tiny hotel kitchenette rather than eating out (from my own experience). However, if you do choose to eat out, there are a number of options available to you in this city on the St. Lawrence River.

Leisurely stroll down the touristy streets of Old Montreal like Rue Saint Paul, to select from restaurants set in buildings that date to the city’s foundation. Classic Montreal must tries include: beaver tails, a Canadian fried dough dessert served with a variety of toppings; poutine, a quintessentially Canadian dish made of cut potato fries served with gravy and curd cheese; Montreal bagels; and smoked meat. Blending historic French, English, and International cuisine, Montreal will delight the taste buds of even the most frugal travelers.

*The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect in any way those of

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