Curbside Cuisine: Unveiling the UK's Staycation Capitals For Foodies

by Jo Rammell
7 min read

In the midst of a cost of living crisis, not only are staycations more affordable than trips abroad, they’re also a great way to find hidden food gems. Street food showcases the untold food secrets in each city, and its affordability has become a saving grace for budget-conscious individuals and families on holiday. 

Data from Google Trends shows a huge increase in search volume for ‘street food’ with a strong trajectory increase from 2013 to 2023. Searches per month for ‘street food’ have increased by 160% over this time. 

With that in mind, the digital PR team at Evoluted has analysed several data sources and undertaken research to unveil the best cities in the UK for a foodie staycation - giving the lowdown to those wanting a UK staycation where they can enjoy a vibrant dining experience but at an affordable price.

The UK’s Foodie Staycation Capitals: Nottingham is the hottest destination for affordable holiday eats

Food enthusiasts love the fuss-free, relaxed nature of street food, and also the chance to try something new when they're on holiday, without a big price tag.

We’ve revealed the best cities in the UK for a foodie staycation. To do this, we have analysed the top 36 cities in the UK based on population size, ranking them on their: 

Each place was scored accordingly to establish the UK’s best staycations for a foodie. We used a seed list of the biggest cities by population in the UK and then ranked them on their street food.

The data analysis revealed the top 10 cities in the UK to visit for street food:

Ranking City Total score Street food vendors per 1K score Searches for 'street food' per 1K score Street food vendors per sq mi score Average price of street food score % of takeaways that are street food vendors score
1 Nottingham 59.3 0.7 12.5 0.5 37.2 8.4
2 Manchester 57.2 1.3 20 1 31.5 3.4
3 Hull 55.2 0.5 0 0.3 50 4.3
4 Aberdeen 53.8 0.5 0 0.1 47.2 6.1
5 Glasgow 52.4 1 0.3 0.6 45.7 4.8
6 Birmingham 52.1 0.5 0.3 0.3 48.6 2.4
7 Derby 49.8 0.4 0 0.2 42.9 6.4
8 Sheffield 49.4 0.5 0.2 0.1 41.5 7.2
9 Bradford 47.6 0.6 0 0.1 44.3 2.6
10 Stoke-on-Trent 46.3 0.7 0 0.3 28.6 16.8

The data reveals that Nottingham has topped the list as UK’s best city for a foodie staycation. 

Nottingham performs well across almost all of the categories; there are 720 searches for ‘street food in Nottingham’ every month, showing the appetite for street food in this city is big. Most likely due to the huge number of varied options available. According to the data, there are 5 street food options per square mile to choose from, and 8% of the takeaways on JustEat are listed as street food.

All of the cities in the top 5 are situated in the north of the UK. Manchester follows closely behind in the rankings, making it another great city for eating out at an affordable price. The gastronomic hotspots, Hull, Aberdeen and Glasgow come next, also boasting a vibrant world of street food.

Nottingham street food reigns supreme: the unrivalled capital of affordable culinary delights

Nottingham’s street food offering is unrivalled and therefore the perfect place for a foodie staycation in the UK. The scene has exploded in recent years, with funky street food spots popping up all over the city. It’s no surprise that Nottingham tops the rankings when it’s home to Bustler. A short walk from the city centre, it boasts some of the best UK street food, first-class craft beer & cocktails, great DJs and a quality atmosphere. There’s also ‘Nottingham Street Food’ club, previously permanently in Victoria Centre, and now hosting regular pop up street food events across Notts. 

Living up to their new title, bank holiday August weekend sees the ‘Nottingham Street Food Festival 2023’ event, with an army of delicious vendors showcasing their cuisine, from Asian and Middle-Eastern inspired stalls, to fried chicken, Caribbean, South American, Mexican and much more.

So, whether you're craving a greek gyros, mouthwatering vegan cuisine, or a new fusion dish, Nottingham's street food scene has got you covered.

Manchester's street food scene takes 2nd place

The data revealed there are 9 street food vendors per square mile in Manchester and 1,900 searches per month for ‘Street food in Manchester’. You only need to briefly look into the social media accounts of Manchester's street food establishments to witness the city's growing reputation as a culinary hotspot. From Mackie Mayor and GRUB, to Escape to Freight Island and Society MCR, their mouthwatering photos and rave reviews showcase the immense variety and quality of the street food on offer in Manchester. 

Mackie Mayor even posted back on their Instagram page in March, saying it has been named the best food hall in the whole of the UK. 

Aberdeen is Scotland’s street food capital

When it comes to a foodie staycation, Aberdeen reigns supreme in Scotland. In recent years, the street food scene in Aberdeen has experienced a remarkable surge, with diverse street food spots emerging throughout the city. But it’s not just the variety of food that sets it apart, there are also a huge number of options with 6% of all takeaways on JustEat listed as street food. 

Resident X in Aberdeen brings together the best street food vendors that the local area has to offer, showcasing cuisine from around the world. Experience a taste of Greece, Japan, India or America, Resident X’s street food options have captured the hearts and taste buds of locals and visitors alike. 

The best cities to start a street food business in the UK

When it comes to starting a street food business, location is key. Choosing the right city can make a significant difference in the success and growth of your venture. This data exploring street food capitals in the UK also highlights there are certain cities that stand out as particularly promising for aspiring street food entrepreneurs, and London, Manchester, Bristol, Nottingham, and Liverpool have emerged as the top contenders.

Ranking City Search volume for 'Street food in [city name] per month
1 London 5400
2 Manchester 1900
3 Bristol 880
4 Nottingham 720
5 Liverpool 720

The high volume of Google searches related to street food in London, Manchester, Bristol, Nottingham, and Liverpool signifies the presence of a passionate and food-loving customer, meaning you can tap into a receptive market.

Online search trends provide valuable insights into consumer preferences and interests. By analysing Google search data, it’s evident that these cities exhibit a strong appetite for street food experiences, making them prime locations to establish your new street food business.

In a time where enjoying life needs to be as affordable as possible due to the cost of living crisis, our study ultimately unveils the UK's best staycations for a foodie, shedding light on the top cities to visit that offer a vibrant yet inexpensive dining experience.

Methodology

To establish the UK’s best staycations for a foodie, we used a seed list of the biggest cities by population in the UK and ranked them on their street food.

We then analysed these locations based on the following factors, giving a score for each factor, before combining this to give an overall score:

Our talented Digital PR team is focused on developing results-driven digital PR campaigns and activity to help you boost search visibility and brand awareness. If you think we can help you, please feel free to get in touch today.

Written by Jo Rammell
Senior Digital PR Specialist

Jo arrived at Evoluted towards the end of 2017, bringing several years’ digital experience with her. She cites the continuous innovation of new tools and how they can be utilised for targeting as being a key inspiration behind her interest in the industry.