How to Eat at 10 Carts For $10: A Thursday Street Food Tour of Midtown

food cart tour collage
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.

4 falafel balls with Sauce from Moshe's Falafel

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.

Kim's Aunt Cart

Stop #4: “Korean” from Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart, 45th Street between 5th and 6th.

Fried Whiting Sandwich from Kim's Aunt

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?


  • I’m very glad to see the carts coverage in this entry. EXCELLENT stuff!!!

  • Great post I wanted to do something similiar with my gf but my weekdays are pretty crazy and most carts are off on the weekends.

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    after all this time i still dont know what a kati roll is… but after seeing that picture i know i want one but thats too far up north for me… damn flatiron area…

  • Brownie, wow! Excellent post! OMG I’m blown over. I’ll be reading this over and over, loved it.
    BTW, I have best friends in Seattle too!

    Only complaint: that bratwurst looks too small for those buns ….

  • this post clearly shows i need to eat better.

  • This post tempts me to do a $30 lunch tour. (Now that the Hill Country challenge is dead.) Anyone in? Excellent!

  • Great job!

    I’m proud to say I’ve eaten at 6 out of the 10 carts on your run and plan to make it a sweep very soon, it’s a great time to be a midtown luncher.

  • Are any / all of these out on the weekends? It would make for a great weekend activity with a group of friends.

    • Unfortunately, a lot of these carts aren’t out in midtown on the weekend. Does anyone know which ones are? The twitter trucks definitely hit other nabes. Makes for a good outing for a work holiday!

  • I anxiously await the follow-up post, where y’all take 30 dumps in 10 toilets in 3 minutes

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    Great write up Brownie. The one time we met at Big Apple BBQ and you were lounging on the grass I didn’t realize the eating prowess of the skinny brunette before me. This is pretty epic, I have to say. Those doubles look pretty tasty as does the Moroccan.

    If you could only eat one more bite from this entire tour, what would it be?

  • I’m in Stevenp! a 30 buck lunch tour–why not….? I just need lead time to get the day off (and it probably shouldn’t be a day I plan on drinking heavily…)

  • Great report, Brownie

  • Doubles and fish sandwich looks like a worthy lunch tomorrow considering it’s lent.

    Nice work brownie.

  • Superb Post. I probably would have chosen 8 or 9 of the 10 you visited which is great.

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    Great post! You have renewed my faith in post-Zach NY midtown lunch..bravo

  • Other than moving the Jamaican Dutchy cart up to the first stop, this tour sequence makes sense. (Did you really go 43rd/6th to 39th/7th, to 38th/5th and back over to 51st/7th?) I probably would have saved the wafels for the end too. Not sure I’d want to eat Morrocco streetmeat and stuff after a sweet wafel!

    • Yup, this was our order. My friends were staying at the Grand Central Hyatt so the plan was to end with dessert at the Treats Truck and have them just a couple blocks from their hotel–but after the patty miscalculation we had to head back up to Jamaican Dutchy to complete the mission. We ended up having the wafel sort of midway, so it was kind of a sweet break between the all the savory, but it would have been a pretty delicious way to finish off the tour.

  • Nicely done! I’ve done this (sort of) with my wife and another couple, but with a much more limited itinerary. We’re planning to do it again when the weather warms a little and this post will be extremely helpful.

    I probably would have included Mohammed’s lamb pita from Kwik Meal and a Cuban from Margon, but I realize there are just so many meals in a day.

    We also included a budget-busting world cocktail tour of the area, starting with a mojito at Havana Central (with empanadas), a capirinha at one of the Brazilian places on 46th and a Moscow Mule at Nios in the Muse Hotel.

    Thanks Brownie!

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