Ask Midtown Lunch: Lesser Known Street Meat

I actually have a question for Midtown Lunch’ers today… I fully admit that pretty much every plate of street meat I’ve ever eaten has been written about on this site (I’m sure some people imagine that I have eaten at every cart in Midtown.  Sorry to disappoint- but I am just one man.)  When I want a plate of chicken and/or lamb over rice, I almost always go to one of 3 or 4 places- and they’re pretty much all on 6th Avenue.  Kwik Meal (on 45th), the Famous Halal Cart (SE Corner of 53rd), Trini-Pak (on 43rd), Carnegie John’s (7th Ave. and 56th) and once I ate at Rafiqi’s (Multiple Carts around Midtown.)  In the interest of branching out, I’d like to try some of the other carts, especially those to the East (Park Ave. and 3rd Ave have a bunch) and those to the south.  Anybody have any recommendations?  Or maybe you’ve always wondered about a particular cart that you walk by all the time?  I’ll go there too.  Feel free to post in the comments…

38 Comments

  • There are competing carts on the northern corners of 43rd and 3rd. Both carts provide good street meat, but I tend to favor the East side vendor, mostly because he’s on the sunnier side of the street.

  • I almost always go to 53rd and 6th (the one that is in the spot of the famous one during the day next to the fountain on the south west corner of the intersection)

  • There’s a cart outside my office on the corner of 3rd & 48th. I’ve eaten there a few times, great food. An old co-worker of mine used to eat there every day after he went to the NYSC next door. There’s always a line (backing up the quality of the food), but it moves quickly. I’ve always opted for half lamb half chicken.

  • The Biryani cart on 46th and 6th is always solid, and not to mention, really close to my office!

  • I’m curious about a new street meat truck on 44th and 2nd.

  • Rafiqi’s on Park at 33 (E. side of street) is acceptable, and I imagine similar to their sister cars around the city. This is the far-southeastern corner of ML territory.

  • Rafiqi’s also upped their prices from 4.25 to 5.00

  • shendys! 52nd & 6th

  • From 2000-2004 I used to eat at a cart called “Ali Khan Express” which was on the northwest corner of 49th and 6th ave. He sold the cart to someone else and set up somewhere else but I could never find him again. I ate there because he had the *cleanest* grill anywhere, and would clean it after just about every order prep, unlike the other carts around 49th and 50th who would let the grill build up daily strata of streetmeat residue which would flake off over time and add “flavor” (*shudder*).

    Now that I work on 57th st, I go to this pair of carts on the southwest corner of 55th st and 6th avenue (right outside citibank). $5 for meat (chicken or lamb) over rice, or get extra meat in $1 increments ($1 is an extra spatula’s worth). The gyro meat seems like the same gyro meat at every cart along 6th ave. It’s certainly on par with the famous cart on 53rd st (I tried this cart for the first time a week or so ago after finding midtownlunch.com). My only complaint with the 55th st. cart is that they use far too much oil when eating up meat so you get a bit of a pool of oil at the bottom of the container (I get the meat over salad, no rice), and sometimes it leaks out of the container into the bag. Otherwise, it’s damn tasty streetmeat.

    Aside from halal food, my favorite streetmeat of all time I affectionately refer to as Carne de Calle – the big mexican hat on the southwest corner of 50th and 6th ave. I think if you search midtownlunch for ‘sombrero’ you’ll find the cart I’m referring to. There were two meat options – ground beef and stewed chicken, of which he turns into tacos, burritos, or nachos. Great stuff.

    My latest favorite after finding this place is the Jamaican Dutchy. I’m on 5th and 57th, but its very much worth the trek to 7th and 51st. This cart needs to franchise or something.

  • The souvlaki on 47th between 3rd and 2nd is awesome. People also love the chicken over there. Highly recommend your try it

  • I agree with Alex. That is one of the best carts in the city, and i find their chicken and rice nearly untouchable. Plus their white sauce is awesome (not the fake crap most carts have, but is actual taziki)

  • would love to hear anything about the carts on 49th and 50th, at the corner 6th ave. Many have lines frequently… seem popular but street meat makes me nervous sometimes.

  • I get my halal fix at the cart on the NE corner of 40th and 6th. I usually get falafel but the meat is good too. And the guys are super nice.

  • Even though it’s not really in Midtown (more like Flatiron), the truck on Madison and 28th has really good chicken and rice. For $5 they give you a big styrofoam clamshell filled with chicken over rice (yellow or white), lettuce, a few french fries, and a falafel. They supposedly have really good kofta too, although I’ve yet to try it.

    Poor Flatiron district. So close to Midtown, but so far. :\

  • Wonderer – Unless they’ve changed since 2005, don’t bother with the halal carts (IMO) on 49th or 50th. It’s worth the 3 block trek to 53′rd (south east corner) for the famous cart. They are much cleaner and don’t scare me.

    But if you’re on 49th/50th and 6th, try the big sombrero. My favorite is the nachos, but the burrito is great too (I prefer the ground beef but the chicken is good too). Everyone seems to rave about the Daisy Mae’s truck, but when I worked at 1251, Daisy Mae’s had like one item on the menu.

  • @ Mike, the Biryani cart has been mentioned on this site quite a few times already. Also, I’m glad it’s near your work. I guess.

  • I settle for the carts at 50th street from time to time, out of sheer laziness, or when it’s rainy and I don’t want to walk the extra 2 blocks to deliciousness at 53rd.

    I can confirm that the 50th street halal carts all suck, but if you’re curious, then hit the King Tut one, which is the least sucky.

    But you (and I) are really better off walking the extra couple blocks.

  • I’ve become a fan lately of the Charcoal Grill cart at the NW corner of 55th and Madison; their chicken is juicy chunks of breast meat, their salad contains ingredients other than iceberg lettuce and pink tomato slices (carrots! cabbage! cucumber!), and they’ve got an extensive menu of other items if a $6 chicken and rice platter ain’t your thing.

  • I had the eggplant and falafel sandwich at one of the carts on 49-50th & 6th (can’t remember, on the west side of 6th Ave, there were 2 carts next to each other and I went to the one closer to 6th) and it tasted like someone had added their own *very* special ingredient to the sauce… never again!

  • I second the taco meat from the sombrero on 50th. I go for the taco salad. ( nacho chips / taco meat / lettuce / salsa / peppers )

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