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Street Vendors: NOT hot dogs, pretzels or nuts!

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Chowhound cimui spurred an interesting idea regarding cheap eats in New York...
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/477148

Although street vendors are ubiquitous, why do the vast majority fit into the boring hot dogs/pretzels/roasted nuts paradigm?

Here's your chance to rave about your favorite non-traditional street vendors.

What do they sell, and how do we get 'em?

Mr Taster
(Chowhound visiting from LA)

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  1. Contrary to your outdated notions, the hot dog/pretzel/roasted nuts paradigm of the street vendor ended in the 1990s, and the new convention is halal.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/29/nyr...

    5 Replies
    1. re: Mr Taster

      Where are you in New York, a vast majority are in midtown, primarily 6th ave in the 40s to 50s street section. Are not as many halal carts downtown since these vendors main clientèle are Manhattan office workers.

      1. re: Whatsgood

        I visit about once a year, but on this trip I've been spending most of my time primarily in Brooklyn (Clinton Hill) and downtown. I did get up to midtown last week but only briefly, so perhaps that explains why I haven't witnessed the Halal Revolution.

        Mr Taster

      2. re: E Eto

        Seriously, I am in NYC one weekend a month and have been for 15 years, there are hot dog/pretzel/nut carts everywhere.

        1. re: hon

          And other carts as well....

          I've lived here all my life and watched the city streets change from 50 cent (natural skin!!) hot dogs to almost any cuisine you can think of.

        2. re: E Eto

          Is the Hallo Berlin cart considered a hot dog street cart or a German wurst purveyor? I also recall seeing a Jamaican food cart/truck in front of J&R on Park Row.

        3. The dosa man in washington square park is delicious: http://www.nyindia.us/fast-food.html

          4 Replies
          1. re: corgette

            Great suggestion-- thank you corgette

            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster

              Check out www.midtownlunch.com . Obviously the focus is on midtown, but there are lots of reviews of street food vendors. My favorites are the Kwik-Meal cart for a lamb on rice with extra green hot sauce and also a tamale lady who stands outside the Mexican Embassy/consulate on 39th btwn Park and Madison. I do recall one review about a fried chicken cart (i think) down near wall st.

              1. re: Mr Taster

                You're most welcome. I know you asked for personal recs, but have you checked out the Vendies? They're vendor awards given out to the best of the best in NY. Here's last year's: http://streetvendor.org/vendies.html

                Not strictly Manhattan, but it has some good recs.

              2. re: corgette

                https://pardonmyhindi.com/samachar/02...
                Cool web page with everything you'd want to know about the Dosa man, his food and menu. It's worth a trip there just for the food.

              3. Jfood's favorites are:

                - Raffiqui on 53/Park - Lamb Gyro
                - Quick Meal II 47th/Park - Lamb w Green sauce over rice
                - Halo Berlin - German wursts
                - Moishe's Falafel

                Unfotunately the best of the best retired years ago, Robert and Elizabeth. They were the best.

                12 Replies
                1. re: jfood

                  I second Kwik Meal and Halo Berlin (the best street cart in Manhattan) but I think Raffiqui is mediocre and Moishe's is meh. There use to be a competing falafel cart on the other side of the street, Miriam's. He was the best but he seems to have gone...

                  1. re: KTinNYC

                    K

                    It seems there are several Raffiqis and the quality does vary by location. The one on Park and 53 is very good but the one on 47 and Madison is almost inedible, hard to believe same name. Moishes is pretty good, not great, but jfood is still in the hunt for a good falaffel midtown. Help please near 48/Park?

                    Do you know if the Ratner's Soup Cart is anywhere. It used to be at 45 and 6th and then disappeared. Nothing better on a cold winter day then some cabbage soup and a roll.

                    1. re: jfood

                      I stopped working in midtown a few years ago so I have no intelligence on the soup cart. When I did work in the neighborhood Miriam's was my go to falafel. My problem with Moishe's is that the rush the frying of the falafel so they aren't crisp.

                      Re: Raffiqi's, I've tried several locations and the lamb is the same as most other carts. The only thing that distinguishes them from other carts is that their hotsauce is slightly better. I remember when there was only one Raffiqi's and it was named best food by NY Magazine. He went out and franchised. I sought out the food when this happened, this is maybe 10 years ago and I had just moved to NYC, but I don't recall it being very special even back then.

                      Another streetcart worth hitting up is Daisy Mae's. Love, love, the bowl of red.

                    2. re: KTinNYC

                      Agreed re: Miriam. Best street falafel but one day a few years ago he just stopped showing up. Haven't gound anything comparable.

                      1. re: ESNY

                        It broke my heart when he stopped turning up. I remember him talking about selling some property so maybe he cashed out.

                        He was such a character. In a way he was the soup man of falafel. He never rushed and he could be cranky. I was always amazed that Moishe's had a long line but there would only be 2 or 3 people waiting for Miriam. But I guess people wanted there food as quickly as possible and didn't want to wait for Mr. Miriam to build his perfect sandwich. His hotsauce was to die for and his turkey shwarma, when he deigned to cook it, was great. Things would have gone faster if he could ever hold on to an assistant but they came and went at a comical pace. I think Mr. Miriam was a tough boss but he turned out a lovely falafel. He even gave out samples as you waited a la Katz's. I was lucky to work in a building less than a block away so I had my fair share of Miriam's but it is a shame he is gone. I still look for him when I'm in the neighborhood for business.

                        1. re: KTinNYC

                          Completely agree. I used to work in the building directly above him and would go at least once a week. I tended to eat lunch later and almost never waited on a line but he was always friendly to me, even waving if he saw me walking by. The hot sauce was fantastic, and he was great with the way he would slather it on the inside of the pita prior to stuffing it rather than just ontop of a stuffed falafel. I dont think i ever saw the shwarma being offered and recall towards the end, he finally crossed it off the menu board rather than tell people he didn't have it.

                          For about two years after my office moved, I would still walk by that corner hoping he would show up again, but alas, he never did.

                      2. re: KTinNYC

                        K

                        thought you would appreciate this. jfood had morning meetings in NY and afternoons in CT. Passing Raffiqis on 46/mad (right at the GCT entrance) and asked for a lamb gyro (pronouncing it hee-ro). The guys in the cart put it on a long roll. jfood did not have the heart to ask them to re-do on a pita.

                        This was the first gyro on a NJ sub roll he ever ate. And not very good.

                        1. re: jfood

                          J, it's not that I dislike Raffiqi's. I just think there is nothing special about it. I don't understand why people think it's better than the scores of other carts.

                          Making a gyro with a roll is unforgivable.

                      3. re: jfood

                        jfood had a moise's falafel today and the quality was such that he is removing his seal of approval from this vendor.

                        It has been a while and he located the truck, grabbed one, eagerly returned to the office, only to be completely dis-satisfied with the whole megilla. The balls had little flavor, the white sauce was bland, the pita was OK and the lettuce and tomato were, well lettuce and tomato.

                        So another street truck goes into retirement for jfood. Memories are sometimes best left as memories.

                        1. re: jfood

                          You're starting to see the light j, now if you could just realise that Raffiqi's isn't that good ; )Btw, the cart next to Moishe's sells a very credible fried whiting sandwich. If it came from a restaurant it would be no big deal but fried fish from a street cart is pretty unique. It's the big stainless steel cart on the right of Moishe's.

                          1. re: KTinNYC

                            when jfood came off sixth he noticed the cart and the people there looked very happy on line while the Moishe cart almost looked as "acceptance" versus happy. Jfood should have trusted his stomach and their faces.

                            Wrt Raff. jfood likes the one on park around 52, but the others somehow are not as good. go figure.

                          2. re: jfood

                            I would repeat the earlier rec of checking out www.midtownlunch.com. They just had a 'street-meat showdown' and ranked 10 popular halal carts in a taste-off.

                            BTW, no one pronounces 'gyro' as 'hero.' Not surprised that it was served on a hero roll! It's either 'gyro' (soft g,as in 'gyroscope') or, more properly, 'gear-o.'

                            Also, why does jfood refer to himself in the third person? drmoze wants to know!

                        2. Delicious authentic Mexican food on the corner of 28th and Broadway (though I'm sure you get enough amazing stuff in LA). They do make a killer tamale.

                          1. If you plan to be downtown in the Wall Street area, I can recommend the halal truck at Wall and Water Streets (look for the huge line), the Mud truck for coffee on Wall St (near Water), the pizza truck on Wall just east of Water St., and the fried chicken truck that usually sits by 55 Water. There is also a burrito/taco truck on the east side of Water (just north of Wall) that I've never tried.

                            1. At 62nd and Madison there is a cart selling the most amazing grilled chicken and lamb. The line is always long, expect to wait 20 minutes. The price is amazing too -- I paid $4.50 for a hot pita stuffed with chicken, lettuce, tomato and onions, smothered in a yougurt sauce. Delicious

                              1. There's a truck on 27rd & Madison at lunchtime that produces very fine Halal-cart fare, including likely the best street vendor falafels in the neighborhood, if you can get them fresh. It moves to 6th Ave in the evening, but at that point business seems to be slow and the food can suffer.

                                Always notable is Sammy's Halal, which cart hails from Jackson Heights but can be seen occasionally at in the vicinity of Wash. Sq. Park (E 4th & Broadway / Laf. I'm told by the board, but I am sure I was west of there the time I went). Sammy makes delicious marinaded chicken and a famous green sauce with the usual accommodations.

                                1. Well, there is the wonderful, wonderful egg-cake from the egg-cake lady on Mosco Street (Chinatown) parked indefinitely next to Hop-Kee restaurant I don't know if she is there anymore since I didn't see her when I was there last. The egg-cakes are a cross bet. waffles, pancakes and Nila cookies. Several street carts make them but Cecilia's is the best.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: GoddessofFood

                                    She's been gone for a few years.

                                  2. My favorite street carts are the Jamaican Dutchy (51st and 7th) and Qwik Meal (45th and 6th). Check out midtownlunch.com for a lot more cart suggestions.

                                    1. There is a cart in chinatown right by the bridge that grills chicken hearts, livers, lamb, squid, etc. -- chicken hearts are the best, juicy and not too tough, lamb was the worst (quite grisly)

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: olia

                                        I love the Calexico Mexican cart in Soho (Just off of Prince on Wooster )Half my office got lunch there today, so this caught my eye...

                                      2. Since this has been resurrected... there's the arancini cart on 45th (I think?) and Madison, and of course at St. Mark's and 4th there's the Dessert Truck (www.desserttruck.com)