Secret Street Food of Midtown: Ecuadorian on 46th

Ecuadorian Street Food on 46th

I admit it’s not for everybody, but I love eating food off the street, here and abroad.  Meat on a stick in Bali, everything in Thailand, raw clams in Chile… I could go on and on.  There’s something about eating on the sidewalk that is fun and exciting to me, and here in Midtown we have some amazing food carts.  But there is also that step below food cart that pops up every once awhile- like the lady selling tamales in front of the Mexican Embassy, or the Japanese delivery guys selling bento boxes on 50th St. btw. 6+7th.  These are my favorite discoveries, and last week I finally tried a new one on 46th btw. 5+6th. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked by this lady standing on 46th St. with a grocery pushcart filled with styrofoam packages.  Usually out there around 1pm, she sells containers of Ecuadorian food to workers in the area for $6-7.  I don’t know where she comes from, or where she goes when she’s done, but I can tell you this:  if there is a random lady, selling homemade food in styrofoam containers on a random street in Midtown, I want to know about it.  I want to eat her food.  No matter what is… 

Ecuadorian Street Food on 46th

After months of sometimes seeing her, and sometimes not, I think I have figured out how the whole thing operates.  1pm, she arrives with her basket full of goodies, sometimes hot food, like a stewed meat with rice and beans, sometimes it’s cold food, like a seafood ceviche.  One item only, and it changes every day.  No choice necessary- you take what she’s got, or you eat somewhere else.  On the day I finally managed to track her down (and not have any other plans for lunch), I was there at 1:05pm.  The dish of the day, fish ceviche, served with white rice, and lentil soup, bag o’ popcorn and a soda, all for $6.50.

Ecuadorian Street Food on 46th

To those less adventurous eaters- yes, I ate fish ceviche, of unknown providence, from an (obviously unrefrigerated) grocery cart, pushed by a random lady in the middle of Midtown.  And it was delicious!  Perhaps I have a stomach a steel (in which case I should warn “don’t try this at home”?), but I don’t think that’s necessarily it.  In fact, I’d rather eat fish ceviche, from a random Ecuadorian lady, who made the food herself, then a hamburger from a disgusting fast food place, made by some high school kid who could care less if something from his giant corporate employer makes you sick.  So take that, germ freaks!

At approximately 1:07 I took the food to the park across the street (btw. 5+6th and 45+46th) to take photos of my booty, before returning to work.  At 1:15 I walked by the spot to say thank you, and the lady was gone!  Poof… up and disappeared.  The mysteries of random Midtown street carts will never be fully answered… and I can’t guarantee that she will be there when you decide you’d like to try her magical Ecuadorian food.  But I can tell you this… sometimes she is there. It’s usually between 1 and 1:10 pm, and if you have no food fears, and manage to catch her, you’ll be treated to a fun and exciting Midtown Lunch.  (If you don’t catch her, there’s always Cafe Cello across the street.)

THE + (What people who like this will say)

  • Is there anything more fun than eating from a random Ecuadorian lady in Midtown?
  • Ton of food for $6-7. Plus you get a free soda.
  • Right across the street from a great outdoor seating area, perfect for enjoying your lunch

THE – (What people who don’t like this will say)

  • It’s tough to track her down. Sometimes she’s there, sometimes she isn’t. It’s a mystery (and an adventure).
  • There’s only one choice per day, so if you don’t like what she has got, you’ll have to go somewhere else.
  • If you don’t speak basic spanish, it may be difficult to find out exactly what it is she is selling.
  • There is better (and “safer”) Ecuadorian food on 47th btw. 5+6th at El Rincon del Sabor
  • I’m a loser who thinks that food being sold on the street is sketchy!

Ecuadrian Food Lady, 46th btw. 5+6th St. (around 1pm???).


  • Oh man, that looks great! I love the random bag of popcorn. She gives you a snack for later, just like Mom packed you a lunch. That’s so freekin sweet!

  • My husband admitted that his mouth watered (if that sort of thing impresses you) to the point of needing to stuff his mouth full of cotton at the thought of this forbidden fruit – uncooked seafood served from a foreign-operated street cart. He harbors hidden passions for many things, including our beloved Hamster which we have named “Twitchy”, and I am sure he will seek this cart out in some sort of disguise, most likely one of his many drag outfits from his burlesque days, and gobble down a half dozen servings or more before stumbliing away, rife with remorse and self-loathing, to the nearest Rx to obtain serum of ipecac

  • It’s the Flying Dutchman of foodcarts! I have quite the love/hate relationship with those types of carts. I found an amazing one in Chelsea a couple of weekends ago that sold authentic tacos. I tried to hop a subway there during a lunch break but alas the cart was gone! No pig ears and cow tongues for me that day, alas.

  • FYI, popcorn is actually eaten alongside ceviche in Ecuador, to the great disgust of their gastronomically superior Peruvian counterparts. Either way, ceviche in the street rules.

  • Wow, nice. I have had many a cup of orange juice from a random lady with a shopping cart full of oranges in Washington Heights, but noooooo ceviche! This is a step beyond, for sure.

  • #1. That is NOT my wife. My wife (“Elizabeth”) is a young and vibrant woman of volutptuous beauty. She is a well-eduated woman who is a sucessful entrepreneur and caberet performer, scratch golfer and gourmet cook. She has better things to do than waste time here.

    #2. I do not, I repeat, DO NOT own a hamster. Mr. Wiggles, a housecat with many admirable human qualities, is my only pet.

    #3. I had bestowed upon me long ago a Doctorate (a PhD) in Psychology from a prestigious University. Although that was years ago, I am still competant to opine thet, in my educated professional opinion, anyone who eats food in styrofoam boxes offered by vagrants (male or female) needs a PSYCH CONSULT stat, followed by an observation period (perhaps inpatient).

  • I can see it now… the Midtown Lunching masses descending on this poor woman, and she goes running for the hills.

  • quick side note – the seafood in traditional ecuadorian ceviches are always cooked thoroughly beforehand. nothing raw to be had.

  • Looks wonderful.Great thing about that type of cooking the ingredients have to be really fresh, and they look it.

    Chucky, you are a rascist,zenophobic throwback.

    World really ended for you when Rosa Parks sat on that bus didn’t it?


  • Hats of to Zach, and the perfect meal for someone who loves fish and 3pm office diarrhea. I only wish I had the stomach…..

  • You want me to bite their nuts off, DocChuck?

  • How was her Ecuadorian origin determined? Was she wearing a button that said, “I’m from Ecuador! Ask me how!”?

  • No, the blow up doll is not Ecuadorian, but since DocChuck bought her used off Ebay (as he does all his undershirts, socks, girdles, and underpants, if such things fascinate you) it is possible she has been in Ecuador, or an Ecuadorian in her?

  • I’m not sure what was going on today, but I stopped by her hand cart at 12:50P today and asked her if she was selling any food. She said no and looked at me suspiciously. Maybe she ran out of food but decided to hang around anyway.

  • Oh man, I love ceviche. That looks delicious. I’m going to have to brush up on my high school Spanish…

  • oh man, i passed by this lady today at exactly 1pm. true to form, she was standing there suspiciously, leaned up against the construction barrier. i eyed up her granny basket, but it was kinda hard to tell what today’s special was underneath that sheath of black plastic trash bag lining. she obscures her gimmick well…

  • To help out the hommies:

    Hola, cómo estás? ¿Qué tienes para comer hoy?


    At least that’s one way to say it. Lunch time also translates to ” la comida del mediodía”

  • i just opened up my plate of food… oh my god this is delicious. today was chicken spaghetti. half of the plate is the spaghetti and then rice in the other half. lots of flavor on both sides. the spaghetti has onions, garlic, some kind of herb and spice. maybe a teeny bit of tomato? it’s not in a sauce though. the chicken is very tender.

    i also got a lentil soup with potatoes and some kind of greens. it’s pretty tasty and light–not bad for a hot day. it has spices similar to some indian curries, but really really watered down of course. think i’ll pour some into the rice. FLAVOR XPLOSIUNZ lol.

    she was even nice enough to give me all this and a soda for $5 because i didn’t have change. better repay her next time! it’s great, i work just around the corner… perfect way to save money as an intern in the city!

  • Did anyone find her today? What was for lunch?

  • You are mos def the MAYOR OF MIDTOWN!

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