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Eating where cab drivers do?

bakedbeans Feb 13, 2007 06:34 AM

[This thread was split from a discussion on the Manhattan Board, which you can find at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/370509 --The Chowhound Team


Based on the line of cab out front all the time. It certainly must be authentic.

  1. Striver Feb 16, 2007 05:12 AM

    When I drove a cab on the night shift in NYC many years ago, my criteria for a place to eat were simple: available parking, bathroom (reasonably clean), cheap, fast, and filling. Sometimes that meant good chow if I could find a spot (a couple of Chinatown noodle shops, a good felafel guy on the east side, a garment center cafeteria, a comidas joint on the upper west side); sometimes it meant fast junk. Most of the other hackies at the time either hit the diners if they could afford them (Munson's on the west side had free parking) or the then-emerging cheap fast food joints.

    In my experience, cab drivers are no more likely to be hounds than any other profession.

    1. hotoynoodle Feb 15, 2007 09:49 AM

      not having a car, i take taxis alot. more often than not, if i get in a cab and the driver is eating, or has a meal spread out on the front seat, it smells like something i don't want. they need fast, easy, cheap, and often to be able to eat it while driving.

      abroad, i've had cabbies bring me to hideous tourist joints, when i specifically ask for a local gem. they think because i'm american, i want crap.

      i think it's a romantic notion, but a generalization that's mostly untrue.

      1. Cheese Boy Feb 14, 2007 06:22 PM

        Fairly recent thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/329632

        1. bklyngrl Feb 14, 2007 12:41 PM

          How funny to find this thread after hearing a great story on NPR yesterday am about cab drivers in NYC recommending a cheap eats spot to people. It's a cart located at 53 and 6 ave (I think) and is PACKED with cabbies/late night revelers/people in the know. The reporter interviewed a bunch of different people (including a bunch of cabbies) about why this particular cart is so good (they serve gyros?) and it was all about the white sauce. So cabbies can in fact, offer good recs for food!

          3 Replies
          1. re: bklyngrl
            KTinNYC Feb 14, 2007 01:38 PM

            This halal cart has been recommended by posters on this board for years.

            1. re: KTinNYC
              bklyngrl Feb 14, 2007 07:33 PM

              I'm sure it has been, based on how great the story was. My point was that cab drivers can in fact offer good tips/

            2. re: bklyngrl
              JoLi Feb 14, 2007 05:29 PM

              yep, I'm one of those folks that pack it at night. It's the chicken and rice with white sauce is what it's all about.

            3. s
              Steve Feb 14, 2007 07:29 AM

              I think the best advice is to ask questions of cabdrivers and listen to what they say and how they talk. If they are knowledgable and enthusiastic about a place - especially a particular dish, and seem delighted to share their finds with you, then why not give it a try?

              If on the other hand they seem disinterested or indiscriminate, then why listen to their advice?

              I don't know why truckers have been brought into this thread since they are not locals, are limited where they can drive to, and may not be aware of their options.

              1. h
                HLing Feb 14, 2007 12:58 AM

                This was before I knew of Chowhound.com: For a few years I had to take a cab home every night for work. One time the cab driver was from Bangladesh. I asked where he eats when he wants food from home he said mostly in Queens. "What about in the city? ", I'd asked. He said something like, "Kari Ina Hari". I asked him to repeat a few times and tried to write it down the best I can. It wasn't til much later that I realized it was "Curry In A Hurry"...

                Now I don't think that just because there's always a line of cabs outside the restaurant it means the place is good..On the other hand, if there were two restaurants side by side, and one is more popular than the other, then...maybe there's something there.

                If I were a cab driver, or a truck driver, I would probably NOT tolerate greasy fast food because you can only eat that stuff once a week, a month. These people are out everyday. Sooner or later they will find the food that's closest to home cooking. So, if i want to know which restaurant has simple but solid good food, I would gladly accept informations from those who have to eat out all the time.

                3 Replies
                1. re: HLing
                  JoLi Feb 14, 2007 05:23 AM

                  Hilarious story!

                  1. re: HLing
                    Cheese Boy Feb 14, 2007 07:57 PM

                    I'm still laughing from this ...

                    'He said something like, "Kari Ina Hari". I asked him to repeat a few times and tried to write it down the best I can. It wasn't til much later that I realized it was "Curry In A Hurry"...' HLing, THIS IS HILARIOUS !!!!

                    Great google search results too ... (this is some kind of Hari, I guess):

                    1) http://fendi.img.jugem.jp/20060420_165293.jpg

                    2) http://fendi.img.jugem.jp/20060509_17...

                    I never knew Hari were similar to 'Lunchables'. Some good eats right there!

                    1. re: Cheese Boy
                      HLing Feb 19, 2007 07:58 PM

                      Joli and Cheese Boy, thanks for cheering me up..!

                  2. hrhboo Feb 13, 2007 09:14 PM

                    I think that only applies when one is travelling abroad. In a foreign country, where one doesn't speak the language and is faced with any number of hyped-up tourist spots, it might be wise to eat where the cabbies do. It'll be cheap and a better option than the readily available tourist traps. On home turf it's probably just inexpensive food that may not be of the highest quality.

                    1. Cheese Boy Feb 13, 2007 07:45 PM

                      Construction workers will know where good chow can be found. The cabbie on the other hand, clueless as to its whereabouts, will drive you ten blocks out of the way to get there and collect a nice fare. Cha-ching. That will be $22.35 please.

                      1. p
                        Pan Feb 13, 2007 10:19 AM

                        Don't forget that the worst diners in America serve authentic American food!

                        Also don't forget that what's cheap and served fast also has popularity.

                        19 Replies
                        1. re: Pan
                          jakew8 Feb 13, 2007 10:25 AM

                          Exactly! Why does everyone assume that wherever taxi drivers eat must serve great food? Do we as foodies (or whatever) pay attention to which greasy spoon diners long-haul truckers eat at?

                          Or consider it this way: you know that if your average American went overseas, they'd just eat at McDonalds. That doesn't mean that the people of that country should take the cue that McDonalds serves authentic, delicious American food.

                          1. re: jakew8
                            dkstar1 Feb 13, 2007 10:31 AM

                            I hear ya. That mentality is beyond me.

                            1. re: jakew8
                              spchang Feb 13, 2007 11:45 AM

                              Of course, we could argue that there is a difference in what a typical American looks for in a cheap food source compared to an immigrant taxi driver. After all, "foodies" describes a small subset of American population, while arguably many foreign countries have a larger proportion of what could be rightfully described as "foodies."

                              1. re: spchang
                                jakew8 Feb 13, 2007 01:10 PM

                                That's true, and your point is well-taken. The truth, as usual, probably lies somewhere in the middle of the two arguments.

                                1. re: spchang
                                  Pan Feb 13, 2007 08:52 PM

                                  Maybe you should make that argument. But for the record, I'm not ready to accept that argument at face value.

                                  1. re: Pan
                                    spchang Feb 14, 2007 10:18 AM

                                    I very carefully phrased my response, so I wouldn't be making that potentially controversial argument. I certainly hate absolute statements (for e.g. X people have the best palates/food), but I think a relative statement like this can be argued for.

                                    1. re: spchang
                                      Pan Feb 14, 2007 09:00 PM

                                      So please argue for it.

                                2. re: jakew8
                                  orangewasabi Feb 13, 2007 08:17 PM

                                  <which greasy spoon diners long-haul truckers eat at?>

                                  yeah, I most certainly do! I have had some amazing food thru trucker tips.

                                  1. re: orangewasabi
                                    KTinNYC Feb 14, 2007 06:15 AM

                                    I've never believed in the old saw that truckers know where the best food road food can be found. In my experience, long haul truckers are under heavy deadline to get their loads delivered. Not much time to go out of the way for tasty food.

                                    1. re: KTinNYC
                                      orangewasabi Feb 14, 2007 06:34 AM

                                      I don't know any trucker who would go off route to eat either. But a motivated longhaul driver will know where to get good food in the most unlikely places. Now, I don't know that many long haulers that actually care about food -- but the few that do, you should hear them talk about their special places.

                                      1. re: orangewasabi
                                        KTinNYC Feb 14, 2007 06:38 AM

                                        Fair enough, I guess I just have to try and meet more truckers. Not an easy feat living in NYC.

                                        1. re: orangewasabi
                                          Sherri Feb 14, 2007 01:04 PM

                                          Talked to several truckers during a cross-country trip and what they said debunked this "truck drivers know where the best food is" myth -- said they favor places with easy in & easy out parking and plenty of it! Oh well ......

                                          1. re: Sherri
                                            Polecat Feb 14, 2007 02:27 PM

                                            I think that the truck driver argument also hearkens back to a simpler, more idealized America, of roadside diners and homey luncheonettes off the highways. These days, sad to say, the average interstate rest area contains the requisite DunkinSbarroCinnabonMcDonalds combination. P.

                                          2. re: orangewasabi
                                            toodie jane Feb 17, 2007 08:38 PM

                                            brings to mind a horrid looking truckstop outside Tulsa where the folks driving wanted to stop for breakfast. HUGE parking lot, interior had little built-in TV's attatched to plastic airport seating. Huge high celilings, dingey lighting....

                                            and the BEST pecan pancakes I've ever had! The clouds parted and the chorus of angels sang....I remember them still, 30 years later..sigh..

                                          3. re: KTinNYC
                                            ML8000 Feb 14, 2007 10:26 PM

                                            Truckers? Maybe not. Construction workers...most definately.

                                            1. re: ML8000
                                              KTinNYC Feb 15, 2007 05:52 AM

                                              I don't think there is a higher percentage of construction workers that are chowhounds than in the general population. I've heard, about cops, truckers, grad students, musicians, fill in the blank and I just don't find any of the generalizations to be true. Only x percent of the people will go out of their way to get something delicious to eat and the rest will get what is convenient.

                                              1. re: KTinNYC
                                                ML8000 Feb 15, 2007 12:17 PM

                                                Maybe it's a west coast thing (although I suspect not) but I've found the Asian and Latino construction workers in SF and the Bay Area know where to get good cheap chow that's CH-worthy.

                                                1. re: ML8000
                                                  orangewasabi Feb 15, 2007 12:29 PM

                                                  in Toronto, ask the construction guys where to get the best portuguese sandwiches or veal on a bun and they will draw you a map of places in a 100 mile radius. especially if they do steel or concrete or something where they go to diverse job sites.

                                                  1. re: orangewasabi
                                                    ML8000 Feb 15, 2007 01:53 PM

                                                    I don't even know what a Portuguese sandwich is...but I want one now.

                                    2. dkstar1 Feb 13, 2007 09:10 AM

                                      The line of cabs is there because the Taxi office (where you apply for medalions, etc.) is next door.

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