53rd & 6th “Imposter” Cart Named One of the Longest Food Lines in NYC

This is great…  the NY Post did an article about the longest food lines in New York City and the daytime halal cart on 53rd and 6th made the list. If you think the line at 1pm is long, you should see the line after 8pm once the real cart shows up!  As longtime ML readers know, the cart on the SW corner during the day is different than the the “famous” cart that parks on that corner at night.  To get the “famous” halal food during lunchtime, you have to go to the SE Corner of 53rd and 6th, the SW corner of 53rd and 7th, or the NW corner of 52nd and 7th. The food on the SW corner during the day isn’t bad (they came in 6th at Street Meat Palooza 2), it’s just obvious that a lot of those people in line think they’re eating at the famous night time cart.

The line on the SE corner has gotten a lot bigger over the past year, and we thought that word was finally getting out… but clearly not everybody has gotten the memo!

Are Lunchers Finally Getting the Message About the Halal Carts on 53rd & 6th?
Debunking the Myths of 53rd & 6th, the Most Famous Halal Intersection in New York City


  • It seems like people have either gotten used to the imposter cart or they really like them!
    Hopefully not everyone just assumes they are the evening Famous Halal Guys anymore.

  • During the day, the lines on the fake side are always much longer than the real deal. People just don’t know!

  • I think there are definitely a group of people who know, but like that cart better…

    but the person who the nypost interviewed said “My daughter said this was the best”. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody call the “imposter” cart “the best”. It’s more likely they are confusing it with the night time cart, which a lot of people think is the best.

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    Yeah, I actually like the imposter cart better … the food is more oily. I find the chicken to be dry at Famous Halal Guys. There have been so many times that I walk by the people standing in line and want to tell them “you realize the famous one is across the street or here starting at 7pm” but I don’t want to hurt the imposters’ business since they do have good food.

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    it’s all dog food to me

    • Dog food? You tried comparing this and Pedigree in a taste test, Flip. Props!!

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        Unidentifiable meat from different parts of different animals chopped into little bits = dog food.

        I’d be interested in knowing where these Halal guys source their meat from. Bet you it all comes from the same supplier.

      • Wait, are you calling out hot dogs too? Haha.

        I don’t mind the unidentifiable lamb-meatloaf with hot sauce and white sauce.

        The curious nature in me would like to know the source too but do not believe it is that important, unless we were paying for gourmet dining…

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        Hot dogs aren’t chopped up into little bits…although I wonder how that might taste. Someone call the US patent office, I just invented the “famous Kosher” food cart!

        I though the dark Halal meat was a mixture of different species, i.e. lamb & beef.

      • Hot dogs can be cut-up/chopped, and thrown into rice and pasta dishes. Where have you been?

        The lamb-gyro can be a combination of lamb and beef in the mixture. Kwik Meal is your best bet if you want the closest thing to chunks of actual lamb meat.

      • That stuff inside a hot dog casing isn’t steak. It is random meat parts, chopped up and stuffed into a skin. Kind of like sausage but less identifiable. I believe that is what Flipster was referring to.

      • Maybe stevenp. But I’m still on the Street meats train of thought. Haha.
        Hot dog so too can be chopped up. Flip mentions chopped up into little bits and wonder how that might taste…

        I would presume he knows they use meat by-products and preservatives to construct hot dogs. MmMmMm, Delicious!

      • I’m with you. I have fairly frequent cravings for shavings from the delicious ground-meat cylinders, like, pretty much every time I pass by a cart. Although the real schawarma can be delicious too–had some recently from Yatagan on MacDougal and Beyti in Brighton Beach–both came from mountainous cylinders of stacked, juicy lamb and both were heavenly.

      • We *need* real shawarma like Yatagan in Midtown. The closest I get to streetmeat these days is Lamb Kati Rolls from Biryani cart. Ever since I’ve had Yatagans, I havent gone back to “streetmeat”.

      • I never ate there but Instanbul cafe on 57th has Doner Lamb gyros. That might be close to the real thing, no? they are out of ML range in general, but a gyro is under $10.


        Doner Kebab “Turkish Gyro”
        wrap plate
        $6.95 $12.95
        Ground lamb cooked on a rotating spit then thinly sliced served with rice

      • Doner is the same thing as what you get from the streetmeat places. It’s basically lamb meatloaf (as you mentioned, “ground lamb cooked on a rotating spit”). I don’t think this would be any different than what you’d get from the streetcart.

        The stuff stevenp and I are referring to is thinly sliced lamb, marinated, stacked onto a spit, and roasted on a spit and sliced off right onto your platter or sandwich. Think “lamb bacon”. If you’re ever in the EV, try Yatagans.

      • I’ve seen them swap out the lamb before. It’s a prepack, of course, kept frozen (the thing had ice crystals on it). The box had a supplier name on it and everything, though I don’t remember what name (standard white corrugated box with simple blue lettering all over and a picture). I’d be surprised if there weren’t hundreds of carts around the city using the same meat.

        The differences come from how long it’s cooked at what temperature, crisp/soft ratio, any seasoning from the grill or elsewhere, the rice, the sauces… it’s like every artist buying their paint from one place, except this isn’t exactly haute cuisine.

    • Adam…if you r referring to yatagan from bleeker and mcdougal…then..100 cool points go your way….everyone goes to mamouns…but…very few know about yatagans…and its amazing….

      • Cool. A doner kebab for 5.50. I’ll try Yatagan the next time I’m in the EV and need a quick eat. Not a fan of Mamoun’s shawarma and their falafel isn’t anything special – just cheap eats.

  • People must be sweating bullets eating this stuff in “warm” weather by the time they get back to their desks.

  • i still prefer the original cart but i always get mixed with lots of white sauce since the chicken is a little on the dry side.

    i just really hate this cart because their perceived popularity is based on a lie. they are totally undeserving of the attention they get because they piggybacked on other people’s hard work. the fact that to this day they still perpetuate this fallacy is a glaring indication they aren’t there to serve — they there to collect.

    and honestly, their food isn’t that much more different than the real cart or any other cart in the city.

  • the 52nd & 6th is always empty.

  • What’s funnier is that people start lining up, even as early as 6:30 sometimes, the imposter is closing up, the REAL guys are starting to set up, and the SE corner (also REAL) is still serving. yet people stubbornly stand in line. i REALLY want to tell them they can just go across the street and stop looking like a fool standing in line.

  • Last time I tried the ‘famous’ cart on the SE corner at lunchtime (maybe 2 months ago?), I was decidedly unimpressed. The pile of precooked chicken under foil that I was served from was bland and a bit dry. The pile of lamb was chopped up too much–I like some chunks of meat I can bite into, not pablum! Sauce was pretty good, though. I definitely prefer Little Morocco’s combo. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I also preferred the daytime SW corner cart to the ‘famous’ one, which seems to have gone downhill in quality IMO. (At least compared to a few years ago when I ate there more often.)

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    I agree that it is annoying that the French chick told her dad where to go like she was a NYC authority and was actually dead wrong, but at the same time last time I hit the “famous” it was as described here: dry bland chicken, minced lamb..dead rice..not good.

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    But the impostor cart gets so many customers that it *is* famous in its own way. For example, if person A tells person B, “Hey, I tried this awesome halal cart on 53 and 6,” there is actually a decent chance that person A actually ate at the impostor cart.

    Or in other words, fame isn’t about quality; it’s about popularity. And in NYC especially, popularity takes on a life of its own. (It has a long line, so it must be good!) The impostor cart does not unfairly profit off the quality of the famous cart’s food so much as profit off the fact that there is always a line of people at the SW corner of 53 and 6.

    It would be an interesting social experiment to see what would happen if the famous cart and the impostor cart swapped food.

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    Bah, I was eating at the impostor cart before the word got out. I found it to be far superior to the “real” 53rd and 6th. This cart is one of the few, very few things I miss about working in midtown. I would be such a fat graduate student if a real halal cart were here in New Haven.

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