Downtown Lunch: Zak's Halal Cart Says "Call me Musthafa"
Midtown workers shouldn’t have all the fun, so to even the score, I’ve brought on Daniel Krieger as an official Downtown Lunch Correspondent to write up some of the tasty stuff you can get in the lower half of Manhattan. He’s a great photographer (insuring good food porn), but more importantly he is a lover of cheap, unique and delicious eats (or as I like to call it- Midtown Lunch’ish food.)
Street Meat doesn’t generally peak my interest downtown. I realize you Midtowners have a great selection and crazy competition, but downtown the scene is not quite as fierce. So when I walk by a bunch of street carts I generally don’t stop for lunch, unless I see a line 20 deep- as I saw earlier this week in front of the big red cube on Broadway.
I asked a few people online why this cart was different from the other carts in the area and received answers ranging from “cause its crazy cheap” to “best chicken and rice you can get”, “I don’t know this is my first time but my friend said they have the best falafel.”
When I finally made my way to the front of the line I asked what I should try, as this was my first time. The proprietor said, “You must have the chicken and lamb sandwich with cucumber sauce.” Done.
I will go on record saying that although I haven’t sampled every street sandwich in the city, this was the best I’ve had to date. The chicken is marinated in some kind of sauce that to me seemed a bit curry like. I went back afterwards to probe the busy man with a few quick questions. “The marinade is a secret” he said with a smile. I don’t blame him, it was effing good. The entire sandwich was overstuffed and a bit-of-a-mess (needed a fork to really get into it) and only $4.50.
For another 50 cents you can get the chicken and rice w/salad platter. That’s a pretty damn good deal for 5 bucks. A dollar more with a soda. He sells 100 chicken sandwiches a day and a minimum of 150 of the platters.
The cart has no name on it but when I asked, was told “It used to say Zak on it but everyone kept calling me Zak and my name is Musthafa, so I took the name off. Now the cart has no name.” I can understand that. If my name was Musthafa I wouldn’t want people calling me Zak (especially considering what a weird name it is.) So from here on out I’m naming his cart Musthafa’s, and I suggest getting that lamb and chicken sandwich because it’s one of the best damn deals in the city.
Musthafa’s Halal Cart (formerly Zak’s Halal Cart), Broadway btw. Liberty and Cedar in front of the big Red Cube
Photos and post by Daniel Krieger