Debunking the Myths of 53rd & 6th, the Most Famous Halal Intersection in New York City

53rd St. & 6th Ave is the Chicken & Rice Capital of New York City.  There will never be consensus over who makes the best, but there is no question about who is the most popular.  If you’ve passed 53rd St. & 6th Ave. after 8pm on any give night, then you’ve seen the line.  It forms from the time the cart opens, and doesn’t die down until the cart leaves at 4 in the morning.  Late night club goers, bridge and tunnelers, and cab drivers as far as the eye can see- sometimes stretching as far down as 7th Ave.

A lot of people see this line, and wonder “How could this chicken and rice be so good?”  Not me.  If somebody gets killed just for cutting in line, then I don’t question how good the food is at the front of the line.  I just wonder, where can I get Chicken & Rice worth killing for, in Midtown, during lunchtime!?!   The answer led me back to 53rd St. & 6th Ave., but not necessarily the corner you may think.

The definitive answers to all your chicken and rice questions, after the jump…


Combo Plate from the Famous Chicken & Rice Cart on the SW Corner of 53rd & 6th.
I got it months ago on a very rainy night, so there were only 5 people in line.

Carts can create a lot of confusion.  They appear, disappear, don’t have websites, many look the same, and finally- oftentimes, the people who write about them, just get it wrong.  Just this week, an article was printed in the Columbia Spectator saying that the cart on 53rd & 6th was “Sammy’s Halal” the winner of last year’s Vendy Award.  Sammy’s Halal is actually in Jackson Heights, Queens.

Last week, I was told by a trustworthy source, that the daytime cart on the SW corner of 53rd & 6th, was owned by the same people who owned the nighttime cart- and you could get the same food there as a Midtown Lunch.  Excited, but skeptical, I went right to the source in an attempt to settle this issue once and for all.

MYTH:  The Cart on the SW Corner of 53rd & 6th Ave. during the day, is the same food as the cart that gets the super long lines at night.

As I ordered my Chicken & Lamb over Rice combo, I asked the guy at the cart whether or not he was related to the famous cart at night.

Him: “Brothers.  Owners are brothers.”

Me: “Same food”

Him: “Same food”

Me: “Same white sauce”

Him: “Same”

It sure looked similar.  And it tasted similar too, but it had been months since my dinner at the nighttime cart, so I wasn’t positive.  But there were a few obvious things that caught my eye.  First, the tin was a rectangle.  At the nighttime cart, they use circular tins.  They also have little individual servings of white sauce and hot sauce at night.  The daytime cart didn’t.  And most obvious was the plastic bag.  The famous cart used bright yellow bags.  The daytime cart had regular old smiley face plastics.

If you and your brother own a business, with the same exact food, why wouldn’t you use the same supplier of tins and plastic bags?  Very fishy.

That night, I returned to the SW corner of 53rd & 6th to confirm the daytime guy’s story.  The famous cart arrives at 7pm to set up.  Amazingly enough, even though it takes them an hour, a few people had already gathered in anticipation.  I told them that the guy who parked in their spot during the day had claimed that the owner of his cart was brothers with the owner of their cart.

“Different,” he said.

“Different food?”

“Different food.”

“But he said the owners are brothers.”

“I don’t understand why people lie,” he replied.

I understand why…  Well that solves that mystery.  But wait.  There was more.

“Now that cart over there,” he continued, pointing to the SE corner of 53rd & 6th St.  ”That cart has the same owner as this cart.  And they are there during the day, starting at Noon.”

“Same food?”

“Same food.”

Now we’re talking!  I headed over to the cart on the South East corner, which was still open, for a little bit of dinner.  With this order, there was no question.  (Notice the yellow bags hanging on the cart above.)

Notice the individual servings of white sauce and hot sauce in the upper right hand corner of the photo.  Bright orange rice.  A tiny drop of hot sauce blew smoke out of my ears.  This was definitely the stuff.  And yes, I did eat street meat for lunch and dinner on the same day, and lived to tell about it.  See how I sacrifice for you people???  And just so that I can announce that ”Midtown Lunch’ers can eat the the famous 53rd St. & 6th Ave. street meat during the day!”

MYTH:  At night, there is another cart across the street from the famous cart with the line, that serves the same food.

This myth turns out to be true!  The daytime cart on the SE corner of 53rd St. & 6th Ave. is there until pretty late at night.  So if you find yourself in Midtown after a long night of drinking, or clubbing or driving your taxi, don’t wait in that ridiculous line.  Head over to the Southeast corner and get the same food, in 1/10 the time.


The REAL Deal Chicken & Rice Cart during the day. On the SE corner of 53rd St. & 6th Ave.

Moral of the story.  When a cart tells you something,  don’t take their word for it.  Just look at the plastic bags.

The Famous Chicken & Rice Cart(s)

  • Noon until Late night on the Southeast Corner of 53rd St. & 6th Ave.
  • 8pm to 4am on the Southwest Corner of 53rd & 6th Ave.

UPDATE: And now they have another lunchtime cart on the SW corner of 53rd and 7th Ave.

73 Comments

  • 49th and 6th SW corner after 7pm for the win!
    alot nicer then the famous 53rd street guys…give you more then 2 measily strips of pita…3 choices of rice (spicy rice is the best..yellow rice is good too)….and are consistently good unlike the 53rd street famous cart where sometimes its good sometimes the lamb/rice is burnt/dry to a tooth shettering crisp.
    get it with lamb and chicken and hot sauce and white sauce and hot peppers…and sometimes if you ask nicely they will throw in a few falafal balls…usually 5$…sometimes 6$
    (i guess depending on the night) but if you pretend liek you know them they usually fall for it…

    53rd is 6$ now…wack!

    although im not toally bashing it…i do crave it sometimes…

  • The dudes on 53rd street are awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!They rock!!!Especially my dad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!So all you other street cart guys don’t be haters because you know their the BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • A brief grammar/usage reminder:

    you’re – a contraction of “you are”, as in “you’re a dipshit”, A FRIGGIN’ APOSTROPHE

    your – a possessive, similar to mine, his, her as in “your loose slut of a sister loses her mind every time she gets railroaded by your whole inbred, shitbag excuse of a family”, NO FRIGGIN’ APOSTROPHE

    lose – the opposite of win, to misplace something, ONE FRIGGIN’ O

    loose – the opposite of tight, your sister, TWO FRIGGIN’ O’s

    its – another possessive, similar to your, NO FRIGGIN’ APOSTROPHE

    it’s – a contraction of “it is”, as in ‘it’s fucking simple’, A FRIGGIN’ APOSTROPHE

    Need a trick? Fine – when using it’s or you’re, expand the contraction. If “you’re head is full of shit” becomes “you are head is full of shit” and doesn’t make any sense (maybe it will to you because you’re a friggin’ idiot), then you are using the wrong word.

    to – a preposition, as in “turn to the right” or “it’s time to go back to school”, ONE FRIGGIN’ O

    too – an adverb (know what that is?), synonymous with “also”, “as well” as in “Really? I went to college too. I actually read a FUCKING BOOK.” It can also be used to mean “to a regrettable degree” as in “It’s too late for you, moron”, TWO FRIGGIN’ O’s

    two – a number, it comes after one

    there – an adverb, similar to here as in “your short bus is over there”

    their – yet another possessive, similar to your as in “it’s not their fault that you’re a fucking retard. It’s YOUR fault.”

    they’re – a contraction of “they are” as in “they’re not responsible for your complete ignorance of the FRIGGIN’ LANGUAGE. READ A BOOK!!”

  • @ Jamie – A few things… #1 that website is run by a fan, not the actual cart. #2. The quote on the site “During the daytime it is a different vendor who is totally unaffiliated.” is referring to the cart parked on the same corner during the day… the SW corner. Trust me… the cart on the SE corner during the day, is 100% affiliated with the cart parked on the SW corner at night.

  • I just read Bossman’s comment. That is just too funny. I believe he gets top awards for Grammar Nazi.

  • I actually think the best chicken and rice cart is not even in Manhattan, its a cart in Astoria that makes the best plate of Chicken and Rice in NYC. The Falafel and Shawarma King Cart near Broadway and the N train station in Astoria is amazing. I often get two items whenever I am there. They offer a lot of extras like lamb shawarma, kefta( a Middle Eastern meatball), falafels, and shish kebabs but their main things are the Chicken and Rice plate and their Chicken wrap(which is really on gyro bread). Amazing food.

  • gyros 49th and 6th gpm to 6am best in the world

  • NEWSFLASH – The cart on the SW corner of 53rd Street and Seventh Ave. (currently under scaffolding) is the same yellow-bag, round tin, hot-hot-hot sauce people as the famous 53rd and Sixth franchise.

    I am not as big of a street meat expert as some of y’all, but it tastes pretty good as I type this.

    1:00pm on a Thursday and there was no line.

  • Stop telling everyone about the right cart. There are no more great secrets in new york. Since it’s out of the bag–one of the few carts that does not serve chicken with pieces of bones and cartilage or whatever the chewy part is. God bless them.

  • I’ve heard it called platters, but there was no sign that said it was platters anywhere. What the hell, I am so confused. So the one with halalguys.com is the real one? That means I went to the fake one across the street during the day…

  • That cart on 53rd and 6th is the Shit.. I go there to get lunch there once a week and it keeps getting better!

  • I was just going to add the fact about the 7th & 53rd cart too. They carry the same distinctive yellow bags.

  • yea “platters” is the one on 53rd and 6th

  • Just had this food by the Hilton on 53rd and 6th (Ave of the Americas) this last Mother’s Day weekend…. BEST FOOD EVER!! I watched the lines and double parking into 3:00am. from my hotel room the first night and thought we have to eat there if all those people will stand in that line….there was never NOT a line at this place…and it was SO GOOD… best lamb and chicken I have ever tasted…We were visiting from California and I am on the NET today trying to figure out how I can make it or find some here in California… IF YOU ARE THERE EAT IT!!!!!!!!!! We didnt get sick or anything…it was really good.

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    Myself personally I like the cart right outside of (Wachovia?) Bank on 55th and Madison…but I’m curious (1) if that has a name, (2) if it’s ever been rated , and (3) other people views on it. Thanks!

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    No offense but halal from 53rd and 6th is really overrated.. they use the lowest quality of meat. Everytime I go with my friends.. i refuse to order one..
    I see them being very stiny with their white sauce and refuse to package… i just feel like they’ve become way too cocky…

    There is a so much better halal stand on 55th and 6th right next to the Love Sign. The only bad part about it is that he leaves at around 5:30 so you won’t be able to treat yourself as a post-drinking meal. Plus they serve brown rice… I dont think i’ve ever seen that in a halal stand..

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    I have been to the cart on the SW corner of 53rd and 6th over a dozen times during lunch hours and never received my food in a rectangular tin. Always round. Always a yellow bag too. And always delicious. I’ve tried the cart on the SE corner and found it to be similar, but not quite as good. The lines at the SW cart are always way longer, btw.

  • Rejoice! I am glad to see some other enlightened soul exists to support my claim that all those carts are the same, and there is no use standing in the loooong line!

    I did my own investigation and wrote about the Halal guys last year at
    http://www.oscial.com/is-it-real-or-fake-at-the-end-of-the-day-its-just-street-meat/

  • I am so confused.

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