How to Eat at 10 Carts For $10: A Thursday Street Food Tour of Midtown
Have you ever been kind of jealous of the winners of Zach’s various cart tours? Even though I work in midtown and can hit the great midtown carts anytime I want, there’s something to be said about the fun of taking on a bunch of them at once. To really do it right you need strength in numbers, so when I learned that a couple of my friends from Seattle, would be in town and free for lunch during the week, I started plotting potential food adventures. Both of them regularly read Blondie & Brownie and they were jealous of the midtown cart/food truck scene. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that we should try to hit as many carts for as many different types of foods as possible and with that in mind, may a present Brownie’s Cart Canyon Tour: 10 carts/10 cuisines/$10 a person…
With a budget of $30 between the 3 of us, I wanted to make sure to have savory with some sweet. And of little nibbles mixed with more bigger servings. Find two co-workers and this could your lunch today. Here’s what we had:
Stop #1: Austrian Food from Schnitzel & Things, in their regular Thursday position, 48th between 6th and 7th.
Our order: a bratwurst sandwich with sauerkraut and mustard on ciabatta, $5. We hit Schnitzel shortly after they opened, and in spite of the cold there was still a short line. Not too bad a wait, but if you’re attempting this in colder weather, it would be worth it to call your order in.
At five bucks, this sausage made for a substantial kick off to our tour.
Stop #2: Indian/Bangladeshi from Biryani Cart, 46th Street between 6th and 7th.
Our order: one Spicy Buradi Chicken Kati Roll, $3. You really can’t go wrong with Meru’s Spicy Buradi Roll. My guests had never had a kati roll and they loved the spicy, sweet combination of this roll.
Stop #3: Israeli from Moshe’s Falafel, 45th Street between 5th and 6th.
Our order: 4 falafel balls, $2. Moshe’s takes some flack on ML for their poor sandwich layering, but at $2 for 4 sizable falafel balls, it makes for a filling a cheap snack. And since they douse your entire order with tahini and hot sauce upon request there’s little risk of not getting the saucy bites that you want.
Stop #4: “Korean” from Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart, 45th Street between 5th and 6th.
Our order: a fried whiting sandwich, $3.50. Ok, this might not be a traditional Korean dish like bulgogi, but it’s my favorite thing from the Kim’s. My friends were astonished that the sandwich was so big, so cheap, and so fresh tasting. If sharing one of these sandwiches I highly recommend ordering it on a hero roll–less chance of the bread disintegrating.
Stop #5: Belgian from Wafels & Dinges
Our order: a Liege wafel with Belgian chocolate and strawberries, $5. Brussels and Liege wafels at W&D run $5 with one dinge (topping), but if you follow their twitter they generally have a special password for an additional free dinge. The Brussels wafels are a good choice if you want a waffle that’s more like what most Americans think of as a Belgian waffle, but the Liege wafels with its pockets of crystallized sugary goodness, might be a better pick if you want to show off a treat that’s hard to find outside of Belgium. After polishing off our Liege, my friends were sad that there isn’t a W&D truck in the Seattle area.
Stop #6 Mexican from El Rey de Sabor, 43rd and 6th, north side of the street
Our order: a chicken tamale, $1.50. El Rey de Sabor gets a lot of love on ML and though this was my first visit to any of their carts, I can see why. Their chicken tamale was tender and delicious. My dad is a born and raised Southern Californian and has instilled this little New Englander with an appreciation for the good tamale. I can definitely see coming back to make a lunch of these.
Stop #7 Trinidadian from Trini Paki Boys Cart, 43rd between 5th and 6th, south side of the street
Our order: doubles, $2. The curried chickpea filled doubles from the Trini Paki Boys cart is one of my favorite all time ML discoveries. Even though neither of my friends had ever tried Trinidadian food before they are both adventurous eaters and were blown away by the doubles. It was their hands down best of the tour pick for being “unique, tasty, and filling.”
Stop #8 Moroccan from Little Morocco, NE Corner of 39th & 7th Ave.
Our order: chicken and lamb combo over rice, $5. Clearly street meat had to make an appearance in the cart tour extravaganza, especially since my friends had never experienced the wonders of chicken and lamb over rice before. It was a tough choice on my part in terms of which cart we would get our combo from. Biryani Cart was a heavy contender, though they were ruled out fairly early on since I wanted cart variety and I already knew that we would already be stopping for kati rolls there. 53rd and 6th was a little out of our way and wouldn’t work out timingwise. Kwik Meal was considered as well, but ultimately eliminated from contention for budgetary reasons–in order to hit 10 carts and still stay within the $10 each budget, I had to find a combo platter that would come in at $5 or under. I had read about Little Morocco being midtown’s “best new street meat” and was intrigued by their shipped directly from Morocco harrissa. After the Spicy Chicken Buradi Roll, the ample hot sauce from Moshes and Kim’s, and the doubles, my friends had proven themselves capable of handling some heat so I knew they were ready for some Moroccan harissa action. Little Morocco’s harissa and platter did not disappoint. It’s such a beautiful thing to introduce out of towners to the wonders of white sauce and hot sauce.
Now I must caution that at this point in the tour more moderate eaters might be feeling a little bit of stomach fatigue. Trying to be a considerate host, I asked my guests if they were ready to pack it in. Their response? “We’ve got 2 more carts to go. Let’s hit it!” With my friends determined to complete the 10 cart challenge, we pressed on.
Stop #9: American from the Treats Truck, in position on 38th street and 5th ave
Our order: a chocolate chip cookie, $1. It had been several stops since out waffle, so it seemed right to go for another sweet treat and what better to represent American comfort food than a chocolate chip cookie? Some of Kim’s treats tend towards the pricier side, but at $1 for a nice, soft chocolate chip filled cookie, this is one of my favorite Treats Truck bargains.
Stop #10: Jamaican from the Jamaican Dutchy Cart, west 51st and 7th Ave
Our order: a beef patty, $2. The Jamaican beef patty was supposed to have come early in our tour which I had planned to conclude at the Treats Truck, not far from my friends’ hotel, but unfortunately I hadn’t taken note that the Caribbean Spice Truck, normally parked near the Biryani Cart on 46th, had gone missing, so for our last stop we back tracked up to the Jamaican Dutchy cart on 51st street for their beef patty. A perfect spicy cap to our 10 cart tour.
And now the final tally:
Bratwurst from Schnitzel & Things: $5
Spicy Buradi Chicken Kati Roll from Biryani Cart: $3
Falafel Balls from Moshe’s: $2
Fried Whiting Hero from Kim’s: $3.50
Chocolate and Strawberry Smothered Liege Wafel from Wafels & Dinges: $5
Doubles from Trini Paki Boys Cart: $2
Chicken Tamale from El Rey de Sabor: $1.50
Chicken and Lamb Combo over Rice from Little Morocco: $5
Chocolate Chip Cookie from Treats Truck: $1
Beef Patty from Jamaican Dutchy: $2
Total spent on lunch: $30 or $10 per person. Mission accomplished!
A few post tour notes. We started our tour at close to noon on a Thursday afternoon and didn’t run into too much line trouble. Eating as we went along we managed to finish the 10 carts within about 2 hours and this included me playing tour guide filling my guests in on each cart as we went along. If you were meeting up with a group of midtown based friends you could probably do a similar “tour” in less time in picnic form by dividing and conquering with the food pick up.
This particular tour comes with a shitload of food for three people. If you have a moderate to light appetite you could do less carts for a cheaper per head lunch price and still come away satisfied or do the same amount of carts and just invite a 4th person along. I crafted our stops based on their convenience to my Rock Center office and with the exception of the beef patty snafu, kept us heading in a southward direction focusing predominantly on carts in the 6th ave vicinity. The stops were based on some of my favorites with ML recommendations that I’ve never tried mixed in and the entire tour was crafted to hit the 10 carts, 10 different cuisines at $10 per person in a decently timely manner on a Thursday. When creating your own food tour you might have other priorities or other must visit stops. And with the twitter trucks like Wafels & Dinges, Treats Truck and Schnitzel and Things be sure to always check their twitter for location.
What stops would you have on your own midtown cart tour?
Posted by Brownie at 11:30 am, March 4th, 2010 under American, Austrian, Biriyani Cart, Cart, El Rey Del Sabor, Falafel, Jamaican, Jamaican Dutchy, Kim's Aunt Kitchen Cart, Korean, Kosher, Mexican, Schnitzel & Things, Treats Truck, Trini Paki Boys Cart, Wafels and Dinges.
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