NY Mag Wreaks Havoc on Midtown Carts

For anyone who loves street eating, NY Mag had a great feature in this week issue.  If you missed it, be sure to check out the day in the life of a hot dog vendor, a great interview with Sean Basinski from The Street Vendor Project, plus a lot of great cart facts, and the NY Mag list of the Top 20 Food Carts in all of New York City.  The biggest news- Midtown will be getting a Sammy’s Halal soon (the #3 cart on the top 20).

Midtown faired pretty well, despite the entire Top 5 being in Queens, and four of the top 5 being in Jackson Heights.  There were those you expected, like Hallo Berlin (54th & 5th) at #6, Kwik Meal (45th & 6th) at #14, and the nighttime Chicken & Rice Cart (53rd & 6th) at #17.  Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart (46th & 6th), which I wrote about their for bulgogi, came in at #18 for their fried fish sandwich.  And our beloved Jamaican Dutchy, got their first accolades by coming in at #12.

The biggest surprise was Carnegie John’s at #8, an offshoot of Tony Dragonas’ cart on 62nd near Madison (which came in at #7).  “The Dragon” Tony Dragonas is pretty famous, but I’ve never made it up to his cart on 62nd, since it is just outside of my Midtown Lunch’ing range.  Carnegie John’s, however is not (56th & 7th Ave).  And NY Mag went so far as to say that their burgers may be better than the ones at the Burger Joint in the Parker Meridien!

I headed over to the Carnegie John’s cart yesterday to see what the hype was about, and found this:

The regulars seemed pretty pissed by the crowd, one guy saying in all the time he’s been coming to the cart there has never been a line like this.  By 12:45, they were out of burgers.

There’s always a line at Hallo Berlin, but yesterday it was extra long.



The same story at Kwik Meal.



And Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart never has a line… so this was a relative mob scene for them:



But the biggest surprise of the day was the Jamaican Dutchy.  The shocking picture… after the jump.


That’s right.  No Jamaican Dutchy.  It seems odd that they’ve been on the corner of 51st & 7th every day for two months, and then the day after the NY Magazine article comes out they are gone.  I can’t help but wonder if their fairly new cart was up to code, with all the proper permits- and the exposure in NY Mag got them shut down, or moved to a different location.  Hopefully they were just out for a day getting their flat screened TV fixed (it was broken last week). 

Either way, if the other carts are any indication, they missed out on a big day.  If you know what happened to the Jamaican Dutchy, or see it on another corner- post it as a comment or email me at zach@midtownlunch.com  UPDATE:  The cart is back!!!


  • I used to eat at Kim’s all the time… then one day 2 weeks ago, i went for the bulgogi lunch… after we ordered, the guy had some “stuff” hanging from his nose and wouldnt wipe it… after about 2 minutes, he used the back of his glove to wipe and then just kept working…. this disgusted me so much that I have not been back there since…. ugh…

  • let’s face it- the burgers at parker meridien are really not that great to begin with. they’re average at best, and the whole draw is the actual location and “secret” feel of it. if i took their burger and gave it to you at some well-lit mcdonald’s type of place, i don’t think you’d be that impressed.

    there are much better burgers in midtown- like at pj clarke’s. expensive, yes. but that bacon cheeseburger is insanely good.

  • I tried Carn. John’s yesterday for the first time (I’m in your photo in fact!). Definitely impressed. Burger was quite good as promised – nice flavor, juicy, and just messy enough. Also tried the chicken platter – definitely better than most carts. Great flavor, well seasoned, a nice tzatziki-instead of the typical glommy “white sauce” and a tasty salad – actually dressed with a lemony vinaigrette. Only 2 blocks from my office too!!

  • Personally, I’m getting a little sick of NY Mag. It’s having some weird “Oprah effect” anytime something’s featured. Sucks for the rest of us who discover stuff on our own or through word of mouth.

  • I have been hoping Carnegie John’s would stay on the dl because i have always been able to get a good meal for a good price with no wait. Nowwith the NY Mag article, I will have to wait till the hype dies down.

  • Cable, I’m not sure what you’d expect. What if he’d used a tissue? It’s not like he’d have changed gloves…I eat a lot of cart food and think it best not to think about these things. They’re trapped inside an oven for 6+ hours a day, depending on when they get there. Bodily functions are hard to ignore.

  • Even the Rafiqi’s at Madison and 57th had a longer line than usual yesterday. I think the Ny-Mag effect spilled over from the featured carts to every cart in Midtown.

    Hopefully all the noobs will go back to Cosi and Metro Deli by the end of the week, leaving the carts for the rest of us.

  • Infamy infamy!!…they’ve all got it infamy!!!

  • or we can think positive and hope that more carts will soon come when they realize that all of our carts have long long lines and they can make a ton of money.

  • We need more carts around Park and Madison in the 50′s

  • In the second picture with the meat, lettuce, bread, and sauce, what type of meat is it and where is it from? Thanks!


    The famous Chicken/Lamb Halal Cart on 53rd & 6th.  But it’s only there at night…  -zach

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