Apparently comedian Lisa Lampanelli isn’t a fan of the Famous Halal Guys Cart on 53rd and 6th. From Grub Street’s “New York Diet” Column: “There’s a food cart by Sixth Avenue and 53rd Street and it always has twenty people in the line, so I say to my fiancé, “What the fuck is up with that place?” We ate there â€” some weird Middle Eastern thing. I think it’s beef, pork, chicken and yellow rice. I was like, “Not so much.” Then we tasted the guy next to him with no line and the guy with no line was better. See, it’s all bullshit! It’s all hype in New York!” Nice. I wonder if the cart with no line she went to was the one the SE corner? Because that would be comedy!
Archive for 'Famous Halal Guys on 53rd & 6th'
The NYT City Room blog revisits the topic of the late night line at the Famous Halal Cart on 53rd & 6th, and seems to be in awe of how it has led to “daytime halal carts now outside office buildings and nighttime vendors close to nightclubs, theaters and hotels” (as if this was a recent phenomenon.) It doesn’t mention that you can avoid that late night line, by crossing the street to the SE corner of 53rd & 6th for the exact same food- but Shendy’s, the 2nd place finisher in Street Meat Palooza 2, did get a big shout out from one of the “clubbers” interviewed on the line:
“I’ve tried both carts; 53rd is really the touristy spot,” Mr. Amos said. “52nd is the spot for the people who just couldn’t wait, the starving guy. I’m usually starving.”
The article also mentions that there are other carts drawing crowds these days, like 28th and Madison Avenue, 40th and Seventh Avenue (really?), 45th and Sixth Avenue (uh, do you mean Kwik Meal?) and 52nd between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.
If you thought the Midtown Lunch commenters could get nasty, check out this comment on Something Awful asking for the best drunk/hangover food:
“Chicken and lamb over rice from a halal cart. Squirt enough harissa over it to scare the evil right out of you (and burn your o-ring when you’ve got the beer shits the next morning). Preferably from the 53rd & 6th cart.“
Another commenter agreed, and added his own recomendation:
“I would take that cart behind the school and get it pregnant. Drunk, I almost always swing Mexican. If not Mexican, then Five Guys.”
Ever since the Famous Halal Guys (on 53rd and 6th) opened a third cart (on the SW corner of 53rd & 7th) it has always been the Midtown Lunch position that the food was exactly the same. Well Lunch’er “Sadia” says that is not the case anymore:
“I used to visit the guys on 53rd and 7th a lot because their food was actually the same as the real famous guys’ food. I like to be believe I am a connoisseur when it comes to halal carts around the city, so I do believe I can tell the famous guys from non famous ones, similar packaging or not. The last two times that I went however there seems to be a different person serving the food and it does not taste the same.”
Man, I was really in the mood for street meat yesterday… and can’t for the life of me figure out why. (Oh, that’s right.) I decided to hit up the Famous Halal Cart on the SE Corner of 53rd and 6th to try their kofta kebab (which we reported about a few months back.) Probably not the smartest move considering they had just come in 3rd place in Street Meat Palooza 2 , but the line moved quick, and I just had to get my fix.
Check out my chicken and kofta combo plate, after the jump.
One year ago this month 20 Midtown Lunch’ers converged in Bryant Park to taste 13 plates of street meat and rate them in an event that became known as Street Meat Palooza. The Famous Halal Cart on 53rd & 6th was crowned the winner, and we vowed to return one year later to give another set of carts a chance at unseating the champ. Last week a new group of lunchers once again converged in Bryant Park to blind taste test and rate 15 different street meat carts, many of them nominated by you. Food was consumed, scores were given, and a new winner has been crowned. Ladies and gentleman, Midtown Lunch’ers, and street food enthusiasts from around the world, I’m excited to give you STREET MEAT PALOOZA 2.
Some of you may be asking, “What exactly is street meat?” Well, for the purposes of this contest it is an order of chicken and lamb, served over rice, with “white sauce” and hot sauce. In Midtown it is often referred to as “Halal Food” (the Muslim equivalent of Kosher), but in this case the method of preparation (or its degree of holiness) is not important. As long as you serve something called chicken and lamb over rice (with white sauce and hot sauce) it could be Palooza’d. 7 carts from last year were granted automatic entry, while the other 8 were culled from your nominations. Carts received separate scores for chicken, lamb, rice, white sauce, hot sauce, and value, plus received an overall score (the most important.) Every judge was also asked to choose a top 5 at the very end.
Keep in mind there are no losers in Street Meat Palooza, just different degrees of winning (I see the good in all street meat). Just getting picked to participate meant that somebody likes the cart, and every single entry showed up in at least one judge’s top 5. In other words, this isn’t a contest as much as a celebration- and just because a new champion has been crowned doesn’t meat that last year’s winner is no longer great. It just means that on any given day, any number of amazing Midtown street food vendors might be putting out “The Best” plate of street meat.
Here are the results…
The results of Street Meat Palooza 2 are just two days away, but here’s a little discovery that is worth sharing with you now. If you’ve been following Midtown Lunch, or the street food scene in Midtown, than you know about the “Famous Halal Guys” who park on the SW corner of 53rd and 6th at night, and the “imposter” cart during the day that pretends to be related to it. (It’s not.) If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should read this now.
When I first wrote about the “imposter” cart a year and a half ago, I noted that one of the ways you could tell the difference was the daytime cart had a rectangular tin, while the “famous” nighttime cart (and its daytime offspring on the SE corner of 53rd and 6th, and the SW corner of 53rd and 7th) all had circular tins. Well, at Street Meat Palooza 2 we discovered that the imposter cart (in addition to wearing the signature yellow sweaters worn by the famous cart) has now changed their packaging to circular tins. Meaning the two plates of food are now virtually indistinguishable.
Can you tell which is which? Larger shots are after the jump.
In what shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody, the map part of this morning’s New York Times article about Midtown Lunching meant big business for some of our favorite carts today. The famous Halal Cart (on the SE corner of 53rd and 6th) had a longer line than I’ve ever seen (maybe to try their new kofta kebab?), there were reports of longer than normal lines at the Biryani Cart, and the Jamaican Dutchy ran out of jerk chicken before Noon. (Apparently there are a few people in Midtown who read the New York Times?) Anybody go to XPL, or one of the other spots on the list? Reports are welcome in the comments…
This is kind of exciting. The Famous Halal Guys’ daytime cart on the SE corner of 53rd St and 6th Ave (who won last year’s Street Meat Palooza) have added kofta kebabs to their menu. I had already had lunch by the time I walked by and spotted this beautiful sight on the grill, so I didn’t get a chance to sample. But you better believe that a chicken/kofta over rice combo platter is in my immediate future (topped with white sauce and hot sauce of course.) No word on whether the nighttime cart (on the SW corner), or their other daytime cart (on the SW corner of 53rd and 7th) is also serving the item.
In all my years of Midtown Lunch’ing this is the first day that I’ve seen the lunchtime line for the halal cart on the SE corner of 53rd & 6th rival that of the “imposter” cart on the SW corner of 53rd & 6th. As any longtime reader of Midtown Lunch knows, the cart on the SW corner of 53rd & 6th during the day is not related in any way to the famous Halal cart that is parked there at night. In fact, if you want the famous halal during the day you have to go to the SE corner of 53rd & 6th or the SW corner of 53rd & 7th. Best way to tell if you are at the right cart… look for the yellow bags with the famous halal guy logo on them. It’s good to see that folks are finally getting the message. Whatever you do, though, don’t OD on the stuff. According to Lunch’er “TC”, if you eat at the cart on 53rd & 6th every day you will definitely get sick of it.