Is Little Morocco Any Good Without Omar?
My favorite street meat spot over the past few years has been the Little Morocco cart (39+7th). The unique flavors, the little extras (corn!), the occasional kofta option, and the $5 price tag make it a hard cart to compete with. As we’ve learned over the years, however, the quality of the food is at least somewhat dependent on its usual operator, Omar. With word of Omar’s move to California (good luck!), came questions about whether Little Morocco would ever be the same. Questions I intended to answer once I heard a new Little Morocco cart had surfaced after their most recent controversy.
As you can see from the above picture, it is indeed a different physical cart. It has no Little Morocco signage and really nothing to distinguish it from a generic Halal cart. But it is parked in the exact same spot (NE corner of 39+7th) and is being run by the owner of the original Little Morocco who has filled in for/helped Omar in the past. He confirmed that the old cart would be coming back to this spot once the sticker issue is sorted out, but I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath. Now, what about the food?
This is undeniably a Little Morocco plate of food. It features too many of Omar’s little touches to be anything else (the corn, the chickpeas, the cilantro, the harissa hot sauce, the green sauce). Although the spirit is largely the same, there are definitely some noticeable differences.
Perhaps most significant is the meat. I got a combo (he said that kofta would be available in the future), and there were much bigger chunks of chicken and gyro meat than I remember in the past. They also seemed to have more of a grilled char thing going on at the edges. This is change I can believe in.
The grains of rice seemed longer (it’s entirely possible I’m over-analyzing street meat at this point) and the rice didn’t seem to be flavored as much as before. I did get some clove flavor in a few bites, but I also didn’t see any of the whole cloves Omar used pretty liberally. So if the cloves turned you off, this should be a big improvement.
As some have noted in the forums, the plate seems spicier and I agree. Not sure if it’s because the sauce is actually hotter, or just because the owner tends to put more on, but I definitely don’t think it was due to a lack of white sauce in my case. Also, I don’t think he puts as much corn and chickpeas on as Omar did, but I’m sure that can be remedied by simply asking for extra.
Obviously there are other things missing, the onion slaw, the French fries, etc. But I don’t think these were really every day items when Omar was there, and there’s nothing to say there won’t be surprises down the road.
All in all, I’d be hard pressed to say this was better or worse than Omar’s food (especially after just one trip, and I’m obviously going back). It’s just different. I’m sure some people will prefer the old, and some the new. Regardless, it’s an awesome plate of street meat, a lunch completely unique to Midtown (as far as I know) and a great value at just $5. Omar may be gone, but Little Morocco lives on, and I thank the mobile food gods for that.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Things are a little different, but it’s still Little Morocco
- I like street meat that is more than just rice, protein and sauce
- There is more focus on the meat, and less on the extraneous stuff
- It’s $5 for a filling plate of food, what can go wrong?
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Beans, corn and cilantro have no place on a plate of street meat!
- They don’t focus as much on the extra stuff that makes Little Morocco unique
- I want my street meat as simple and traditional
Little Morocco, NE corner of 39+7th