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Quintessential NYC street food

So, my boyfriend & I are coming to NYC for a little trip & we want to see & do as much as we can while we're there. We're both foodies & eating is going to be our main focus for the trip. My question is, what's the quintessential NYC street food? What do we absolutely have to have before heading back home?

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  1. Okay these may not qualify as quintessal street food like not offered on the street per se but qualifies as unique food items that you can grab quickly and are really good. But beyond the falafel carts and the gross pretzels, there isn't much in terns of street food (in the traditional sense)

    I just polished off a Kati roll from the Kati Roll company on Macdougal between Bleeker and West 3rd. Get a paneer roll (hands down the best one). Really unique and good.

    Real street food --the Dosa Cart on the corner of west 4th and sullivan. He has really good samosas.

    Great jamaican patties from Jamaican flavors on Sullivan between bleeker and and west 3rd (get the barbeque ones).

    Great croissants from Patiserre Claude (on west 4th between) sixth avenue and 7th ave.

    Amazing grill sandwiches from Murrays Cheese on Bleeker, great proscutto bread and rice balls fram Faiccos next door to Murrays.

    the list goes on.....

    1. "The cart" at 53rd and 6th - chicken and rice. Late night. Very NYC...

      2 Replies
      1. re: theannerska

        i second "the cart". be prepared to wait in line. also knishes seem to be a NY thing (i think) but i'm not sure of where the 'good' knish carts are. you can go to the Lower East Side to the area around Kossar's Bialy and find some good knishes in the area, although not necessarily from carts.
        i'm also a big fan of QuikMeal I and II in midtown, on 45th st and 6th ave.

        1. re: theannerska

          I also like the cart at 53rd, but only for the combo chicken and lamb platter. For chicken only, I prefer the Trini Pak lady on 6th and 43rd Street. It's much more flavorful. Only open during lunch hours.

        2. "Churn Fun" on Hester street and Elizabeth. Its chinese rice roll noodles with peanut and sweet sauce. Theres also another cart on Bowery and Grand st.

          3 Replies
          1. re: DarthEater

            i think you mean cheung fan, thats what the rice roll noodles you're talking about are called in chinese...the cart you're talking about on hester and elizabeth across from dynasty is pretty good

            1. re: Lau

              I'm chinese, and in cantonese its pronounced "churn" as in intestines in cantonese because its rolled and shaped to resemble it. Cheung would be the last name of my ex.

              1. re: DarthEater

                I always thought they were called cheung fun as well. It's probably one of those people from different areas of the country pronounce things differently things. Anyway those chinatown carts are really interesting. Besides the usual "cheung fun", some of them will sell stuff like curry fishballs, curry squid, beef stew with tripe, fried chicken, spring rolls, fried thin white noodle and deep fried mystery fish gunk on peppers or eggplant. They probably don;t change the frying oil that much so its probably not the healthiest of foods.

          2. This is not quite street food but I think you should sample one of NYC's finest: Pizza! There are pizza joints everywhere but if you are into Pizza then Lombardi's on 32 Spring Street in Soho is the spot!

            If you have time to venture out of Manhattan, take the subway to Coney Island and grab a few hot dogs from Nathans. The Cyclones (a Mets farm team) also plays there, catch a game, or just take a walk along the boardwalk. This is very New York as well.

            Have fun in New York!

            1 Reply
            1. re: foodiechan

              If you want the street food pizza experience, you can buy pizza off a truck in midtown somewhere. The pizza is not bad, its crispy liek a cracker and very saucy. I think the name of the truck was jiannetto's.

            2. If you're planning on staying only in Manhattan, various street carts throughout Chinatown (and the Dumpling Places on Eldridge St and elsewhere) & what's already been said are good suggestions. I'd also look thru some threads to find good falaffel places. And think about going to dba, a bar on 1st Ave and E.2-3rd St: they have a good selection of everything alcoholic & a backyard area to just sit at , where you're welcome to bring in food from anywhere and eat it. If you go there, a Katz pastrami sandwich is only blocks away.

              However, if you're willing to venture out of borough, check out:

              Red Hook (Brooklyn) ballfields threads on the Outer Boroughs board. If you're around during a week-end and like varied Central and South American home cooked foods, this is the place. DiFara's pizza threads as well (also Brooklyn). And the Flushing (Queens) Chinatown threads on walking thru the "malls" on Main St.

              1. Sort of "street food", not sold on a cart, but you will pick it up and eat it on the sidewalk, so that's close...Go to Mamouns in the Village, and have their combo lamb and falafal plate...Down the street hit Faicco's for delicious rice balls...Across the street a little ways is Rocco's...Grab a wonderful cannoli and/or Black and White Cookie...If you still have room, go a bit further down the street and grab a cupcake at Magnolia's..

                1. I wouldn't make a trip just for this, but if you are in Chinatown there is a little cart on canal that sells what my friends and I call bullet cakes. They are made from a batter that is a little sweet. They are poured into very hot metal molds that are kind of like rounded bullets. They are served in little waxed paper bags. One bag between two people is a nice treat. If you are in the neighborhood, I would hop into one of the bakeries along canal for pork buns, and other delicacies that are nice to munch on while you explore Chinatown. I really like to take friends along and check out all of the fresh open front seafood stores while we munch on our pork buns. Enjoy your trip.

                  A couple of other places to try outside of chinatown - super tacos up on 96th between broadway and west end is a cart (more like a lunch trailer really), and Daisy May BBQ has carts spread around midtown that has excellent BBQ. I recommend their Memphis Dry rub ribs (but I am not sure if they sell them from the cart).

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: centrejack

                    I will definitely be checking out all the food in Chinatown. The "bullet cakes" sound really interesting. Thanks!

                    1. re: sunnygordy

                      You can usually find them advertised as "15 mini cakes for $1" -- to me they taste kind of like pancake batter though.


                  2. I'm surprised no one mentioned the kwik meal cart yet. The kwik meal cart serves up really fantastic meat on rice dishes.

                    1. I haven't had it in about a year, but if it's still there the German food cart on the west side of 5th Avenue around 54th (55th?) Street is excellent. Get a variety of sausages and be sure to get the potatoes and red cabbage platter.

                      And no one seems to have mentioned the typical hot dog from just about any street cart vendor (the so-called "dirty-water dog"). Munch them in Central Park on a nice day with mustard and kraut and watch the world go by.

                      Another NYC thing around the Lower East Side are the stands where the guys shave a huge block of ice into a snow cone and then give you a choice of syrups (I'm partial to tamarind).

                      And just to reemphasize "the cart" at 53 and 6, go only at night. There's another cart there during the day which is not as good, so don't get fooled.

                      1. Don't forget to try a vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich. You could find one at Saigon Banh Mi at 138 Mott St or Nicky's at 150 E. 2nd St. In the same general area as Niki's is Veniero's Pastry shop, where you can get a great cannoli to go. 342 E. 11th.