Video Break: Street Vendors Continue to Work to Lift the Permit Caps

We’ve been through this before on this site, but it bears repeating. Mobile food vendors in this city face a major hardship because the city has set a cap on the number of permits available. This, of course, has created a black market and forced many hard working food entrepreneurs to pay upwards of $25,000 to find a permit or in many cases, not operate at all. This is why we sadly lost The Cinnamon Snail earlier this year.

Last week there was a rally at City Hall, organized by Street Vendor Project, to push for a bill that would eliminate this cap. Our friends over at One Minute Meals documented the situation and the event in their newest video “You Can’t Feed City Hall.” Check out the video by clicking this link. As advertised, it’s just one minute but packed with important information.

1 Minute Meal: “You Can’t Feed City Hall” from James Boo on Vimeo.

Where To Go Today For Your Free Panda Express Orange Chicken: Just a reminder, we'll be hanging out with Panda Express in Midtown today giving out free orange chicken samples along with a bunch of gear and gift certificates. From Noon to 1pm the truck will be on 40th btw. B'way + 6th. And then from 4-5pm they'll be somewhere around 5th Ave. and 24th St. Tag @midtownlunch on social with the hashtag #orangechickenlove and then come find Zach and he'll hook you up.

Free Orange Chicken Is Coming to Midtown (And Panda Express is Bringing Me Along With Them)

It might have taken years, but Panda Express has finally listened to my plea! This week the New York Times reported that Panda Express is coming to NYC.  They have plans to open up locations on the Upper East Side (69th and 1st) followed by the Bronx, and then potentially Midtown next year (on 8th Ave. and 31st).  My love of Chinese steam tables is well documented, and here in Los Angeles Panda Express is hands down the best there is (see: orange chicken burrito). Some are skeptical (I’m looking at you Chang + Sietsema) and I admit that Panda will probably not replace your favorite egg roll/pork fried rice/general tso’s delivery spot.  But they’ve perfected the Chinese food fast food point-to-what-you-want model, specifically the orange chicken/chow mein combo that so few steam tables manage to get right.

Anyway, when I saw that they’d be bringing a food truck to Midtown to hand out free orange chicken in my favorite neighborhood in the country I begged them to take me with… and they agreed! (What can I say.  I miss you guys… and if shilling for my favorite fast food place in L.A. gets me a trip to hang with you, I’ll take it.)

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Pret A Manger Freebie Alert: Pret A Manger is opening its 42nd location in New York on Friday at 52nd and 7th, and to celebrate they're giving away free breakfast or lunch (or both). Stop by the newest location today from 8am to 10am and get a voucher for free breakfast and between 12 pm and 2pm to receive a voucher for free lunch (while supplies last). The shop itself doesn't actually open until Friday. Freeloaders, engage! Pret A Manger, 787 7th Avenue, between 51st and 52nd Streets

UrbanSpace Vanderbilt Is Seriously Crazy

As reported by Brian earlier, UrbanSpace Vanderbilt is CRAZY. His first words “The things we do for you, dear readers” could not ring more true because I HATE CROWDS (and when he reported how bad it was via email on Friday, I considered bailing). My impression was slightly different than his – crazier in some aspects, less crazy in others – what I ate, what I thought, and all of that after the jump.

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UrbanSpace Continues to Take Over Midtown with Garment District

As if the madness surrounding the overpriced Vanderbilt food court wasn’t enough, UrbanSpace has brought back another one of their outdoor food markets. Yesterday marked the first day of a new version of UrbanSpace Garment District along Broadway around 41st Street. Many familiar vendors, like Hill Country, Taco Bono, and Black Iron Burger return. They’re joined by this year’s Vendy Award winner Home Frite, Batter & Cream whoopie pies, Big Papa Smoke’M Smoked Meats, and many more. For a complete list of vendors, click here. The market runs through October 24.

UrbanSpace Vanderbilt Is Even Crazier Than You’d Expect

The things we do for you, dear readers. On Friday, I entered the belly of the beast by attempting to find some affordable food at UrbanSpace Vanderbilt on its second official day of business. I was anticipating crowds and waits in line, but I had not braced myself for total mass chaos.

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UrbanSpace Vanderbilt Is Now Open

Those who get lunch near Grand Central have a big reason to rejoice! Yesterday was the first official day of UrbanSpace Vanderbilt, a new food court run by the team behind Broadway Bites and Penn Plates.

Before you assume it will all be the same stuff, let us tell you about some exciting new additions. Sure, you’ll now be able to get Roberta’s pizza in Midtown all year long and there will be another outpost of Red Hook Lobster Pound and Asia Dog, but Daniel Delaney of Briskettown fame will be debuting his fried chicken stand, there will be gyros from Amali, preserved fish dishes from downtown’s Maiden Lane, and Brooklyn favorite Mimi’s Hummus. Not to mention coffee from Toby’s Estate and dessert from Ovenly, Dough, A.B. Biagi, and more.

We’ll have a full report next week, but this is a huge win for Midtown lunchers, even if the prices are a little higher than we hope. Early adoptors, leave your thoughts below.

Food Trucks Have Been Forced Out of 46th Street

The block of 46th Street between 6th and 5th Avenue has been overpopulated with food trucks for the last few years.  Since it’s near plenty of office buildings and there are very few restaurant options nearby, it’s one of a few hugely popular Midtown streets for the trucks to congregate. But as two tipsters have informed us, the trucks have recently vanished.

I spoke to some of the truck owners and it sounds like the police have cracked down on this spot over the last few weeks. One day all the trucks were made to close, on another day a few vendors got huge tickets, and now it looks like the spot is officially closed to trucks. For now at least.

This is not the first time trucks have been forced off this street and the same thing happened in 2013 around the same time when 47th Street and Park was shut down. Trucks have a very difficult time finding a legal spot to park since they are not allowed to sell food from a parking meter. But on the other hand, they have a permit from the Department of Health to legally vend food from the streets. So they find themselves stuck in the middle.

It also gets difficult when the trucks travel in packs. While it might be good for business to make themselves visible, it also draws unwanted attention. Once a street becomes too crowded the police will inevitably shut them down. So until new, more fair laws are passed, it only makes sense for the trucks to spread out a bit.

Until things simmer down on this street, we do still have the carts. It might be the prefect time to revisit Kim’s Aunt Kitchen and Moshe’s Falafel.

Beyond Sushi’s Veggie Sushi is Much Less Scary Than it Sounds

Beyond Sushi has been open on 56th Street since late last year. But considering they specialize in vegetarian sushi, it’s no wonder this is the first we are writing about it on this site.

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