Rafiqi’s Tries To Intimidate New Mexican Cart From 49th Street
I stopped by the new, second location, of the El Rey del Sabor cart yesterday (on 49th btw. Lex+3rd) and discovered a few little tidbits. First, for those of you wondering what happened to the teriyaki/udon cart that popped up in that same spot a month ago… the new Mexican cart is the ramen cart. The El Rey del Sabor people bought the udon cart (and the spot, in theory) and converted it into a second branch of their popular Mexican food cart (the first one is on 60th and 3rd). The teriyaki guys gave no reason for wanting to sell their cart after only a month and a half, but the El Rey del Sabor people suspect it might be because they were intimidated by the street meat vendors in the area.
The same intimidation El Rey del Sabor has been feeling since setting up shop two days ago on that corner.
The lady who used to assist at the cart on 60th and 3rd is running the show on 49th & 3rd right now, touting her 25 years of experience working in a Bronx shish kebab cart as necessary to successfully navigate through the murky waters of Midtown. She says the threats have already started from the neighboring street meat vendors, most notably from the Rafiqi’s cart on 50th and 3rd. But unlike the two Chinese guys who ran the udon cart, she’s not afraid- and plans to soldier on. Having two big Mexican dudes in your cart who “aren’t afraid of nobody” probably helps. She said there was no violence yet, but according to a Midtown Lunch commenter, the cook at the original El Rey del Sabor cart on 60th and 3rd was telling a much different story yesterday:
I went to the 60th street cart today. The reason they weren’t there yesterday is that they got in a big rumble with the halal guy near the new cart they are opening (49th and 3rd). The guy threw their food around and generally tried to intimidate them so they wouldn’t open near him. Luckily our friends stood their ground and threatened to kick the guy’s ass.
These cart fights are nothing new, but usually involve a new vendor trying to sell the same food as a nearby stand. For example, The Treats Truck was threatened by a Mister Softee truck when she first opened. (Both desserts I guess?) Usually they’ll let it slide if the food is completely different (as was the case with the Carribean Spice cart on 46th btw. 5+6th) but I guess that isn’t the case here. What bothers them the most is that the Rafiqi’s cart isn’t even on the same block!
According to the El Rey del Sabor lady, the Rafiqi’s crew threatened to set up a cart right next to her if she decides to stay. Her response: “Go ahead and do it. And then we’ll see who has the best food. I am not afraid.”