Why is There No “Street Meat” in L.A.?

I miss you old friend

When I returned to Los Angeles in January I was pretty excited to start eating my way through all the trucks that have popped up since I moved away in 2005.  Korean tacos? Hawaiian garlic shrimp? Grilled cheese sandwiches with short ribs? Sushi… buttermilk biscuits… butter chicken… and obviously all the Mexican food.  But there is one thing that the L.A. street food scene doesn’t have… street meat!  If you’ve ever been to NYC you know what I’m talking about… the “halal” chicken and lamb (aka gyro) over rice with white sauce (aka mayo) and hot sauce.

The results of Street Meat Palooza 3 were released today on the Midtown NYC section of Midtown Lunch (our annual 15 cart street meat showdown) and I have to say it’s the one thing I miss about New York that has no L.A. substitute.  With all the trucks out here, I can’t believe nobody has done this.  You’d think there are enough NYC transplants to make it profitable, right?   Challenge issued.  Will anybody step up to the plate?  Or maybe we can get one of the New York vendors to follow in Le Gamin’s footsteps.



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    There’s plenty of “street meat”, but it just happens to be of the Mexican and/or Central American variety.

    I pass by more than one makeshift stand selling meat from a spit. It’s not halal, but it’s just as good, in this guy’s opinion.

  • I’m just as surprised/saddened/disappointed as you that no one has picked up on the success of halal chicken and rice in NYC and setup shop here in LA. It’d certainly have more staying power than some of the trucks we have out here.

  • If you want street meat, check out Santa Monica Blvd just east of Highland. There is plenty of street meat in the late hours of the night there.

  • Oh, I know you can get meat on the street in L.A.

    But when I say “Street Meat” I mean specifically the chicken and lamb over rice with white sauce and hot sauce that is on every corner of NYC.

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    I’m just going to venture a guess, but I think one of the primary reasons for the proliferation of halal street carts in New York was to serve Muslim cabbies who needed quick and easy places to grab food, places that served halal meat. In Chicago, by contrast, you have numerous 24 hour “cabbie joints” strategically placed all over the city where you will see tons of taxis parked outside. Those kinds of joints aren’t feasible in New York because of lack of restaurant space and lack of street parking and parking lots (Lahore Deli on Crosby St. is one of the few exceptions; Punjabi Deli off of Houston also caters to cabbies but I don’t think it has halal meat as it’s run by Sikhs). Hence the halal cart solution in NYC.

    As LA isn’t as much of a taxi town it probably doesn’t have the same kind of demographic in need of quick halal meals. I presume Muslim cabbies in LA stop at actual restaurants that are popular with taxi drivers, as in Chicago. Incidentally, the cabbie joints in Chicago have some of the best inexpensive indo/pak food in all of North America (in my opinion).

    Now why chicken and lamb over rice became the dishes of choice at halal carts, instead of other dishes made by or popular with Muslims, is another mystery that deserves some research.

    • I think I can answer that one…

      I’m pretty sure it is because all of the “street meat” carts were original owned by Greeks, serving gyro or chicken on pita or over rice w/ tzatziki. When many of the Muslims from Bangladesh and Egypt started taking over the carts, they kept the gyro meat, and made their own cheaper mayo based version of the white sauce.

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    ask and you shall recieve ….


    grand opening is next month !!!!!

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