Night Markets: street food vendors as far as the eye can see

night markets food vendors stalls

What foods are served? | Where are they located?

What is a night market? 

A night market (a.k.a. night bazaar) is an open air street fair held at nighttime filled with specialty food stalls along with handfuls of other vendors and performers.  They are inspired by the night markets in East and Southeast Asia—especially China and Taiwan—that have dozens to hundreds of food vendors at a time.  The casual carnival-like atmosphere of night markets make it a popular gathering for locals and tourists alike.

Due to the relatively inexpensive costs for vendors to participate in night markets, many local businesses tend to test out new foods and drinks at these events.  This makes night markets the perfect place for foodies and food lovers alike to discover and try out new foods and budding food trends.  In other words, if you love food and want to beat the heat of state and county fairs, night markets are right down your alley.

Night Market Foods

So, what kind of food can you expect to find at night markets?  Although night markets are typically Asian-influenced, the foods available can change regularly depending on what food vendors participate.  They can cover all kinds of cuisines from hamburgers and hot dogs to octopus balls and unicorn buns.  Examples of unique or hard-to-find foods served at these markets in the US have included:

  • alcohol-infused cake pops
  • black foods (foods infused with charcoal or other black food coloring)
  • cookie shots (shot glass-shaped cookies filled with milk)
  • cotton candy burritos
  • crazy drinks (beverages in crazy drink containers like giant baby bottles, light bulbs, etc.)
  • dirt cups (ice cream in a pot topped with cookie crumbles)
  • donut cones (a.k.a. chimney cakes)
  • egg waffles
  • elotes in chips (Mexican corn covered in flavored chips)dirt cups by Ice Cream Garden
  • Flamin’ Hot Cheetos foods (i.e. burritos and elotes)
  • giant squid
  • liquid nitrogen puffs (a.k.a. Dragon’s Breath)
  • phallus-shaped cakes on a stick (a.k.a. D-cake)
  • poke burritos
  • puffy cakes (small pressed cakes with sweet filling)
  • raindrop cakes
  • ramen burgers
  • shaved snow
  • shark sandwiches (Trinidadian sandwiches)
  • soft serve and sorbets served in fresh fruit skins
  • takoyaki (traditional Japanese octopus balls)
  • unicorn foods (colorful elotes, buns, etc.)

Where are they located?  

Decades ago, night markets were exclusively held in cities throughout Asia.  They have been popping across the globe ever since.  Nowadays, both outdoor and indoor versions of night markets can be found in pretty much every major city in the US as well.  The largest night market in the US is the 626 Night Market in Arcadia, CA with hundreds of food vendors and other shops.Dates of the various night markets change each year, so check the related websites for updates.  Browse through the locations below to find a night market near you!

Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Night Market

July-Sept (select dates)
night market food vendors

night market cleveland ohio
photo: Cleveland Night Market on Facebook

Los Angeles, CA (Arcadia): 626 Night Market

May-August (select weekends)
night market food vendors

night market markets los angeles arcadia
photo: 626 Night Market on Facebook

Oakland, CA (Pleasanton): NorCal Night Market

July-September (select weekends)
night market food vendors

oakland plesanton norcal night market
photo: NorCal Night Market on Facebook

Philadelphia, PA: Night Market Philadelphia

May-October (select dates)
night market food vendors

night market philadelphia
photo:  The Food Trust on Facebook

Phoenix, AZ: PHX Night Market

spring (select dates)
night market food vendors

phoenix phx arizona night market
photo: PHX Night Market on Facebook

San Antonio, TX: The People’s Night Market

year-round (select dates)
night market food vendors

night market san antonio
photo: People’s Nite Market on Facebook

Chicago, IL: Sauced

year-round (select dates)
night market food vendors

chicago night market food vendors
photo: Sauced on Facebook

Houston, TX: Night Market

October (one night)
night market food vendors

night market markets houston

Miami, FL: Marketta Street Food

year-round (Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays)
night market food vendors

night market miami
photo: Miami Marketta on Facebook

New York, NY: Queens Night Market

April-October (select Saturdays)
night market food vendors

night market queens new york
photo: Queens Night Market on Facebook

Portland, OR: Portland Night Market

September (select dates)
night market food vendors

portland night market
photo: Portland Night Market on Facebook

San Diego, CA: SD Night Market

June (select dates)
night market food vendors

night market san diego
photo: San Diego Night Market on Facebook

Santa Ana, CA: OC Night Market

dates: May-Aug (select weekends)
see night market food vendors

orange county oc night market
photo: OC Night Market on Facebook

Hello! I'm Kristina

Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.