Lamb Meatballs Make the “Homemade Cart” a Downtown Treasure
Yes, friends, it’s time for another chapter in my mythic journey to find Downtown’s epic street meat carts. Chapters one and two have been fantastic experiences (the prologue as well!) but this is an expedition that will never end. This time I went deep into the Financial District to the corner of Beaver and Broadway, right across the street from Bowling Green. The street meat cart I visited this time looks like just about any other on the street. The generic pictures that are plastered all over the sides of the cart give the impression that this is just another place to get chicken and rice, the same blah-dee-bah spicing that makes it taste vaguely Middle Eastern. But let me assure you, it’s not. What you’ll find here is good, flavorful food. What you’ll find here is chicken that tastes like chicken. What you’ll find are delicious, homemade sides like lamb meatballs and kidney beans, stuff that you likely won’t find anywhere else in the city.
The cart is run by a virile 62 year old man with a gregarious personality and a wide variety of items to complement your meal. As you can see in the picture above, for 62, this guy is no slouch. He’s out there rain or shine, which certainly makes him worthy of a visit, in my opinion, but when you combine that with his food, there’s no denying that he’s a Downtown treasure.
How do I know all this goodness is actually homemade? Well, the short answer is ‘because he told me it was.’ He said his wife stays up to make the meatballs and beans. And let me tell you, the meal they’ve put together is really something. The chicken is nicely flavorful and actually tastes like chicken. It’s not some flavorless mound of meat that requires heavy salting and spicy in order to make it taste like something. I actually tasted chicken. In addition, you get an absurd number of little add ons, or maybe it’s just the fact that he asks if you want just about everything. From the salad to the tomatoes (he was out when we got to that option) to the pickled jalapenos to the olives. By the end of ordering my meal I just about wanted to yell “Yes, yes! Put everything on the damn street meat!” but I resisted and kept the smile one everyone’s face.
Surprisingly enough, the one thing he doesn’t offer are his two bonus sides, lamb meatballs and kidney beans. These two sides are a dollar apiece and end up getting slopped up on top of the rest of your meal. Both of them are very good and taste like what they’re supposed to be, which was a very pleasant surprise compared to the way I thought they’d be (that is, either bland or overspiced). The trick is to ask for them, though, because he won’t tell you they’re available and won’t be totally visible since they’re parked on the back burners in glass dishes.
With the weather getting nicer, an added bonus is have a park right there to sit outside and enjoy your meal. Seeing as how it was right next to Bowling Green, there was no stopping me from sitting on one of those benches and zoning out as I enjoyed my meal. And I highly encourage you to do the same. So load up on homemade specialties, don’t be afraid of spending an extra couple of dollars for the good stuff on the back burners, and maybe I’ll see you in the park, staring absent-mindedly into oblivion, my mind slowly working out how I’m going to squeeze an extra couple of meatballs from the proprieter of he homemade cart.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- There’s an awesome 62 year old dude selling street meat! Of course I’m going to support him!
- The food actually tastes like what it’s supposed to be
- The sides, both complementary and extra, are kind of exciting and definitely tasty.
THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Street meat still just isn’t my thing
- Who knows if that stuff is actually home made
- I’m a classically trained mime and certainly do not share a sense of humor with this guy.
Homemade Cart, Broadway at Beaver Street