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Apr 2, 2008 01:27 PM

Favorite unsung Manhattan street vendors (excluding taco trucks)?

On my upcoming trip to NY, I'm planning to check out some street vendors, including Vendy Award winners and finalists. There are said to be 10,000 street vendors in NY, however, and there must be many mute, inglorious Miltons amongst them. What are your favorites, not including past Vendy winners/finalists? I'm excluding taco trucks because there have been a couple of good threads about them, and we have plenty of those out here in Norte Califas. Other Latin and particularly South American specialties are fair game, though.

Also posting this on the Outer Boroughs Board. Lay your favorites on me, please!

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  1. you MUST try the Halal Cart on 53rd and 6th - very long wait at night and lunch time but so worth it!

    18 Replies
    1. re: nycgirl08

      if you're talking about THE 53rd and 6th, it's only open at night, from 7:30pm-4am. since 53rd and 6th is the most popular halal cart in manhattan, i'm guessing it's been a previous Vendy finalist. not 100% positive though. but in any case, it's so worth the wait. it's also not nearly as greasy as other stands.

      1. re: phr208

        I believe it was a finalist in 2005 (the first year of the awards).

        1. re: Xiao Yang

          Gary, if you don't want to wait on the crazy line, check out this post. It seems that there may be more than one of these carts.

          btw, I think the chicken at the Trini Pak cart on 44th and 6th Ave is a lot tastier than the 53rd and 6th.

          1. re: Miss Needle

            Thanks for the link.

            Trini Pak? Is that jerk chicken? Are you comparing apples and oranges?

            1. re: Xiao Yang

              The trini pak cart is not jerk chicken. It's the same type of curried chicken they serve at 53rd and 6th except it's much more flavorful.

              1. re: Miss Needle

                Thanks. I guess the "Trini" threw me. (I was also munching of Kettle brand "Island Jerk" flavor potato chips as I posted the above, so I guess I had jerk chicken on the brain.)

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  OK, the Indian-Caribbean connection finally sunk in. Are the vendors at the 53rd/6th Halal cart(s) of similar origins (as opposed to Middle Eastern or Maghrebi descent)?

                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                    I'm pretty sure the Trini-Pak guys are Pakistani who came to Trinidad. I really have no clue where the 53rd and 6th guys are from. If you visit the Trini-Pak cart, I also find the white rice much tastier than the yellow rice. It's more nutty and aromatic.

                    Pat -- yes, Mama (and I'm assuming that's her son working with her) is still there. I've found her son really charming and friendly but Mama seems like she'd rather be doing something else.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      OK, some deep research revealed that the owner of the 53rd/6th cart is Egyptian. Therefore it's surprising that a Trinidad-Pakistani cart would offer a similar flavor.

                      1. re: Xiao Yang

                        You must have done some real deep research to find that out as I never knew they were Egyptian. My mom was very good friends with an Egyptian woman. So Egyptian food was a common part of my diet growing up. But I never had that type of curried chicken as a kid. However, Egypt is pretty large so I'm sure there are a lot of regional differences.

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          I'm not sure if ethnicity or nationality really matters much with these carts. They are making a NY-ified version of a fast food. I haven't been to Bangladesh (Kwik Meal), Egypt (53rd St cart), Pakistan or Trinidad (Trini Pak cart), Afganistan, etc, but I doubt you'll find this food in the native land. They seem to be doing something unique to NYC.

                          1. re: Miss Needle

                            My research went through a fan website for the 53rd & 6th cart to a NYT article which included this:

                            [quote] Mohamed Abouelenein, an Egyptian who used to sell hot dogs, said, “Hot dog is not a meal.” That’s one reason he switched to gyro and chicken in 1992, becoming, he claims, the first peddler in New York to sell halal meat from a cart. “We figured out that most of the cabdrivers are Egyptian, Pakistani,” he said. “They suffered too much from no halal.” On some corners of Manhattan, halal carts outnumber hot-dog vendors by as much as three to one. Mr. Abouelenein’s cart, named 53rd and 6th, after the Midtown corner on which it sits, stays open from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m., feeding throngs of clubbers, foodies and cabbies. Its success has been such that Mr. Abouelenein recently opened a new cart across the street, supplanting — yes — a hot-dog stand.[unquote]


                            1. re: Xiao Yang

                              they are egyptian one of my friends asked them once

                2. re: Miss Needle

                  I guess the cat's out of the bag about the other 53rd St cart. It was fun watching all the people in line. I promised a friend not to say a word about it.

                  And like you, I prefer the Trini-Pak cart.

                  1. re: E Eto

                    Sorry for potentially ending your show. : )

                    I haven't eaten at the Trini-Pak cart in a long time, but DH went there last week. He said it was still good but the portions got smaller.

                  2. re: Miss Needle

                    The cart on 44th and 6th was the first "eatery" I made a beeline for when I moved to NY. Good stuff! Is the Mama still working there?

                3. re: phr208

                  Don't forget that the vendor on the other side of the street is the exact same place - same meat, same sauces, same everything. I went there the other night and was shocked to see a line of over 25 people for the original cart and literally 1 person in front of me across the street. Boy, you'd think the identical uniform shirts would be a clue - wake up, people!

                  1. re: joeyz

                    They are in fact open for lunch. As well after 7:30pm. The worst time to go is when the bars shut down, its a madhouse. The problem is that they get the food delivered and then "recook" it on the grill - but when they run out they have to wait for the supplies van which can take forever.

              2. The tamale lady outside the Mexican Embassy on 39th between Park and Madison (although i was devasted today when she was out of tamales)

                1. On a block of Front St. near the South Street Seaport there are two carts yards away from each other. One serves Trinidad-style rotis and the other jerk chicken. Kill two birds (well, one bird and one roti) with one stone.

                  1. I love the fishballs vendor outside the NRW station on Canal Street, even though I know his is probably not the best in the area. There's also the woman who sells gizzards by the entrace to the Manhattan Bridge.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: JungMann

                      Where exactly is this gizzard lady, on the bowery side or the IS 131 side?

                      1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                        North side of Canal a block or two before the Chase bank.

                      2. re: JungMann

                        Could you explain what sort of gizzard action this is? I walked by but was in too much of a hurry to stop but my speed rubbernecking almost overturned a table of studded belts so I didn't double back.

                      3. I was walking to work today and noticed that on 45th and 2nd Ave., there was a woman with a small cart and in it was a large pot of some sort of soup or something and she was selling it. It looked like some sort of black market situation. Anyone have any ideas? It was right near the Amish Market.