Street food is part of the culture in central Asia. Although nourishing food can be found, unhealthier options are becoming increasingly popular – a marker of nutrition transition. The nutritional composition of street food in urban settings is, however, unknown. The objective of the present study was, thus, to characterise the street food availability in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. A total of 800 street food vending sites in public markets were selected through random and systematic procedures. Trained interviewers collected data on vending sites’ characteristics, location and food available. Samples of the most commonly available food were collected (ninety-nine homemade and thirty-five industrial). Macronutrients were quantified through proximate analysis. Fruit, drinks and food other than fruits were available, respectively, in 4·5, 40·5 and 87·4 %, of the vending sites. Among the latter, 63·6 % sold only homemade (e.g. bread, traditional dishes, snacks, pastries, sandwiches and cakes), 19·3 % only industrial (e.g. bread, snacks, pastries and cookies) and 17·1 % both types of food. Homemade food presented higher energy per serving compared with industrial food (median 452 v. 276 kcal/serving (1891 v. 1155 kJ/serving); P < 0·001). A high content of SFA (soup: 10·9 g/serving) and trans-fatty acids (cakes: 1·8 g/serving) was also found in homemade food. However, industrial wafers showed the highest content of these fatty acids (12·9 g/serving and 2·5 g/serving, respectively). Soft drinks were available in 68·5 % of the vending sites selling beverages. Homemade and industrial street food, with heterogeneous nutritional value, were widely available in Dushanbe. Hence, policies promoting the availability of healthy food should be encouraged.