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Best street food in NYC

  • l

So many great metropoliss around the globe have wonderful street vendors, but most of NYC seems trapped in the hot dog/pretzel world or the schwarma/falafel world. (I was recently in Korea and I wonder why anyone bothers to actually go into a restaurant.) Is there any really interesting food out there to be had? I've heard of the Dominican trucks up in Washington Heights - which are the best ones. Anything else interesting around?

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  1. Lets see....hmmm...some of this is seasonal.

    I like the Taco truck at Queens blvd and 40th street in Sunnyside, queens. They are there from 7pm-2am or sao. The earlier the better...as the food isn't as good in teh wee hours.

    Hallo Berlin has a sausage stand in midtown.

    Festival of San Gennaro (a couple of weeks ago) and 9th ave food fest (in May) are good.

    Chicago Hotdog stand in Madison SQ park (for the summer, so it's gone now.)

    I hear the crepe stand in the SW corner or Central park si good, but haven't tried it.

    I get cups of hot cider from the union sq greenmarket in the winter, but don't knwo if that qualifies.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jayask
      Mark DiBlasi

      The Trinidad-Pakistan curry chicken guys on the northeast corner of 43rd and 6th in midtown is amazing. Get a chicken and rice with both yogurt and hot tamarind sauces and proceed directly to nirvana.

      1. re: Mark DiBlasi

        the best slice I have had in years (much better than patsies pizza even) is from a Red Van on 40th and Broadway, John Vincents. He has 6 guys chopping up fresh tomato every day, fresh basil, and a great cripy crust, not too thin not too thick. I think it might even be good for you.....i.e. not too greasy, fatty, wobbly like 99% of pizza joints in town.


        P.s. he uses mozzerella curd for the cheese.


        1. re: Paul Agnew

          Oohhh--a pizza truck! I encountered these in Provence, and ever since, I've thought it would be a great concept for NYC. Can't wait to try it . . .


    2. This might not sound "interesting" as in "clever," but it interests me three or four times a week.

      I'm completely wrapped up in Kwik Meal on 45th and 6th in midtown, on the corner with the Citibank. It's a little trailer, and the chef serves pita sandwiches and pilau (which he spells "pilow," meaning "on rice" I guess) -- chicken, lamb, tiger shrimp, vegetable or felafel.

      NY Press went hysterical over the lamb pilau. The meat is really tender, the yogurt is bracing, and the RICE is FANTASTIC.

      My favorite is the chicken pita. No wait, this is GREAT. The chicken is marinated in something savory and spicy -- so tender and flavorful -- and served with some yogurt and a smatter of chopped vegetables. The pitas -- experts: educate me if you can -- seem to be slightly raised. Soft, steamy, fluffy, grilled.

      Yeah, I called the guy a chef, and apparently he trained somewhere in Canada and worked for a time at the Russian Tea Room. I dunno what that's worth, but he makes a hell of a chicken pita. It's a meal. And my favorite part? FOUR BUCKS

      I end up buying lunch for my office buddies there, just to show them how good it is, and everybody goes back.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Clams247

        I agree. I have been touting Kwik Meal for about two years now, and I was back there last Wednesday. The food is as good as ever but I should warn you to not bother with the cheese steak. In my opinion it's awful even though a guy I work with seems to like it. The chicken or lamb dishes are terrific!

        Not exactly street food (but in NYC so many hole-in-the-wall places are essentially the same thing as carts) is the Fresco Tortilla place on 42 Street between 6th and 7th Aves. The chicken fajita at $1.59 is terrific and best if you catch them when they are really busy. Everything is freshly prepared at that point. There are other Fresco Tortillas but this outlet seems to be the best.

        Also, re another post: I dislike the Chicago Hot Dog in Madison Sq Park, but I do like the Hallo Berlin cart as well as the restaurant itself.

        1. re: Clams247

          I can't find this place. I've check out the carts on 45th on both sides of 6th, but they are not Kwik Meal. There are, however, two Falafel(?) carts on 45th near Citibank -- one on each side of 6th. Are you sure it's still there?

          1. re: Bill
            david sprague

            it was there yesterday: on the southwest corner, right next to a--very aggressive-- UHO rep cadging people for change. really top notch chicken, consistent quality too, unlike most such vendors i've patronized in midtown....

            1. re: david sprague

              I found it. I think the reason I missed it is that it leaves after I usually get to that area -- about 3PM. Thanks

        2. t
          The Turtle (Bay) Dove

          I now frequent the dosa cart on Wash Sq Park So.

          1. Yeah, it's kind of a bummer to come back from somewhere in Asia, where amazing street food is a part of everyday life, to New York, where it just isn't. The street food experiences here are totally different, since they are the exception, rather than the rule, but can be rewarding. I suggest hunting down the Arepa Lady (do some searches on this board) for a life-changing New York street food experience.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Peter Cuce

              NYC is an oasis compared to Boston. Someone's going to make a bundle bringing food trucks to Boston.

            2. There is a good taco truck that is usually on 14th bet. 6th & 8th (6-7th during the week, 7-8th on weekends)

              1. Moshe's Falafel is wonderful and cheap. It's just east of 6th avenue on either 45th or 46th streets (I don't work around there anymore). The pickle makes a difference.

                1. Best street food:
                  1) the dosa guy in washington park, south side, towards west - really good and cheap but not always there
                  2) the tamale lady and her kids - 28th st near 6th ave - she's only there for breakfast hours - serving tamales out of a cooler
                  3) dumpling place - Eldritch st between Grand and Delancey, east side of st - an elderly Chinese-American couple had seen me outside the dumpling place on Mosco and told me to go here for the sesame bread with beef - $1.50 and yummy
                  4) dumpling place 2 - On grand btween Elizabeth and Mott -- just a window on the street on the North side - good dumplings, I love the turnip cake myself and other quick snacks, get a bubble tea next door and you got dinner for under $5
                  5) Rico's tamales - a red shack on the corner of 46th and 5th ave in Brooklyn - amazing chicken mole - super cheap - buy 20 for a party and you'll seem so worldly!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: kerthyfix

                    I am sorry to say that item #4 is no longer there. I went to grand street the other day just to get some sticky rice buns and the shop you are refering to is now closed.

                  2. I don't know if it's great, but I think the fried chicken cart that I suppose is still often near the triangle between Baxter, Canal, and Walker in Chinatown serves very good chicken legs and wings. It's the seasoning that really does it for me. And they're really cheap.

                    And on the subject of street food in Chinatown, I miss Mrs. Han's Hong Kong egg cakes. :(

                    1. Lambretta, having been to Korea a few times myself, I can relate. You're right - you can eat great food all day, without having to enter a restaurant. Stuff ranging from noodles to corn dogs covered with fries to sweet pancakes. You can even get a dixie cup full of worms (supposedly highly nutritous). A great scene, to be sure. We need more of that kind of streetfood culture here in NYC.

                      I've heard rumours, though, that there is a guy who sells Korean-style streetfood on the Lower East Side, mostly on weekends, maybe around Rivington Street, that area. Can anyone confirm this?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Polecat

                        I heard he was in Ludlow and Houston late at night on weekends, but never ran into him. Korea was the first time I ate silkworm cacoons. Did you know they sell them canned at the Korean Market!

                        1. re: designerboy01

                          Didn't know that, but it doesn't surprise me. Had myself a cup of worms myself. Picked them up for cheap on a side street in the In-Sae-Don (forgive the spelling) section of Seoul. Speared them out of a dixie cup with a toothpick. They looked rather futuristic and scientifically symmetrical, like Troglodytes or something out of the original "Alien". My first impression was that they were not as crunchy as I had imagined, having been immersed in a soupy sauce. Can't really describe the taste, other than to say that it was totally unique and not all that bad. The texture was not unlike a chewy fruit, like raisins. They were surprisingly filling as well; I couldn't get through a dixie cup full of them. So, what was your worm-eating experience like?

                          Yet another excellent Korean streetfood are those excellent yams sold on a stick, wrapped in foil, and lime-green on the inside. Mmmmm....

                          1. re: Polecat

                            They sell yams in the back of some supermarkets on Northern Blvd. in Flushing Queens. Try the Hana Reum closest to Parsons Blvd. (there are 2 on Nothern). They sell the yams in the parking lot next to the veggie stand outside. I tried the silkworm caccoons in a can and I broke out in hives. That didn't happen in a long time. Good thing I had some Claritan.

                      2. My husband and I were shopping on 116th street and we stumbled upon a Senora from Guerrero who makes fresh tortillas from scratch at her wooden cart on the south side of 116th off second avenue. She turns these platter size tortillas into tacos with 5 different kind of meat fillings. Her pitcher of homemade salsa verde has quarter size chunks of avocado mixed in and her cheese is shredded oaxacan cheese (which melts as she assembles your taco on the griddle that the tortilla was cooked on). Also try the sangrial ( a sangria flavored soda that is non alcholic but really good). Enjoy all this on a stool under the umbrellas that she has over her counter of her wooden cart. Then watch the show as she makes your order.

                        1. Can't believe I didn't mention this earlier: there's a guy who sells beef and chicken kebabs on the corner of Broadway and 32nd Street in Astoria, right next to a bank. He's been there for years, something of a neighborhood staple; the landscape would look empty without him. Anyhow, this is far and away my favorite street kebab in NY (I usually go for the beef).

                          For anyone who's curious: take the N train to the Broadway stop, walk one block in the direction of Steinway. He'll be on the first corner on the left (across from a Subway, if it's still there).

                          1. The 2nd annual "Vendy Awards" celebrates the best street foods in the city. For $50, foodies like us can try all the vendors in one day.

                            Sounds like street cart heaven.


                            1. Homemade sesame custard on Elizabeth Street on the Northwest corner of Hester.