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Halal Cart at 53rd and 6th - worth the wait?

I work as a chef in the Times Square area, and when I get out of work there is a cart on 47th and 6th that makes a perfectly tasty gyro, $5, no waiting. So when I pass 53rd st on my way uptown and see people lined up halfway to 7th ave, I have to wonder if this famous, award-winning street cart is really taking the halal cart experience to another level, or is it just a matter of people going where the line is longest? Can anyone confirm that this place is indeed worth the wait? Am I missing out on something truly sublime by eating merely tasty gyros elsewhere?

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  1. If they aren't the #1 halal cart in all Manhattan, they're definitely up there... Chicken/lamb over rice, not gyros! I really like their rice and their sauces (especially the red one which is super spicy).

    In a blind taste test of 15 carts by Midtown Lunch last year, they were deemed the winners.


    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      Actually, the winners in the Midtown Lunch survey was KwikMeal, not the 53rd/6th cart (they placed third). I like the 53rd/6th cart, but agree it's not really worth the wait when it gets that long.

    2. The food is that good, but it still begs the question of whether it's worth an extended wait, since that's a personal choice. Me, I wouldn't wait more than 10 minutes for anything. There are times when the wait is shorter. Once went on at 11 pm on a Sunday night in January and there was no line.

      1. Definitely not worth more than a 10 minute wait, in my opinion.

        The meat, both the lamb and chicken, are great, but I have a pretty strong personal complaint about the sauce. It tastes a little mayonaisse-y to me. My husband is a huge fan however.

        I'd say it's worth the wait to try it, but not worth any more than 10 minutes if you've had it before.

        1. I think it brings up a separate discussion on food carts.. at what point does the wait and price negate the utility of the foodcart (assuming not a late night thing.. more talking about lunch). e.g. KwikMeal at times can take 15-20 minutes to get your food and will cost almost $10 with a drink. that's about the same it would cost me for many other lunch options that are equally good but take less time...

          1. I suppose that whether or not it's worth the wait has to do with how much patience and time you have to spare. The meat is of slightly higher quality than other carts in the vicinity, but to me, the wait is not worth it at peak hours. I tend to go to the daytime location where there's little to no wait at my slightly off-hour lunch time (around 2ish); I've only waited in the long, evening line once and won't do it again.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cimui

              go during the day...the same guys/ same food are on the south EAST side of the street..the lines are much much shorter during the day or if you go are 7- 7:30pm BOTH carts are usually still running before the south west one takes over for the night... if its not the best deal in town for 6 bucks its certainly the best in midtown...

            2. i had halal cart last time i was in nyc, it is def worth the wait esp if you're drunk cause it tastes amazing when you are wasted late at night

              and dont forget the white sauce!

              for photos of my trip to the halal cart:

              1. I just came back from eating from this cart and the chicken was not up to snuff. The thing that made the chicken distinct was the amount of black pepper they used and this time it was definitely lacking. The sauces were still good and the lamb is the same stuff just about everyone else uses but the chicken, which is what makes combo better then the others, was not the same. I also didn't recognize most of the crew. The older guy with the the gray hair and beard wasn't there.

                6 Replies
                    1. re: pdpredtide

                      You are mistaken. The cart is on the SE corner during the day. I've eaten at the cart for years.

                    2. re: KTinNYC

                      the old guy is Mustapha. I was told he is on vacation...went to the day cart yesterday around 6 and asked about him...they guy with the freckles (a regular) said he takes a long vacation after Ramadan...

                      IMO, the chicken is never good....get the lamb

                    3. Let me get this straight, you want the cart with the YELLOW BAGs right?

                      1. If you want to do it for the experience and to satisfy your curiosity, I would say yes. If you're just concerned about the taste, my answer would be no during prime hours. During the evenings, I have seen another outpost of the same cart on 7th Ave on 53rd Street (as evidenced by the yellow bags). You may want to try that one if you don't want to wait on line -- though I wonder if the one on 6th Ave will taste better as the turnover is higher.

                        My favorite for the chicken is the cart on 43rd and 6th during the day. I think it's a lot more flavorful than the 53rd Street one. And the rice (white only) is much better. KTinNYC is correct that the 53rd St cart can sometimes go way overboard with the pepper. And my favorite for the lamb is Kwik Meal as they use real chunks of lamb and not the processed stuff.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          the 7th avenue cart is an imposter, just like the one on the south east side of the street during the day...they all use yellow bags to fool the tourists, they have yellow shirts to....

                          long line/ short line it does not effect the quality of the food or the amount they give you. it's very consistant. Go. its the best 6 bucks you ever spent.

                          1. re: Cpalms

                            Did you read the Midtown Lunch link Glutton posted at all? The one on the opposite corner during the day is the same operation.

                            1. re: a213b

                              I just edited my post...

                              I eat there twice a week/ work a block away....

                            2. re: Cpalms

                              I'm pretty sure it's the same cart as they have the same yellow bags and same yellow shirts (not plain ones but the ones with the logo). But as I haven't eaten from it, who knows?

                              And I believe the lines do affect the quality of food. I've eaten from the day cart a couple of times. It has not tasted the same as the night cart. Not sure if it's because it's a different cart (even though same owners) or because it's not totally fresh. When I ate there, there was no line and the stuff had been sitting around for a while.

                              1. re: Cpalms

                                There was, and still maybe, a 7th avenue outpost of the Cart.


                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                  your right!! there is another one somewhere 7th (maybe broadway) that uses yellow bags...the daytime 53rd & 6th SE corner is for sure an imposter...

                                  1. re: Cpalms

                                    I believe you meant to say that the daytime 53rd and 6th SW one is an imposter. SE one is legit.

                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                      LOL! this getting out of control
                                      Daytime = South EAST
                                      Nighttime = South WEST
                                      of 53rd & 6th

                                      1. re: Cpalms

                                        It IS getting late in the afternoon, lol.

                                        Has anyone seen the older guy with gray hair and beard? The last 2 times I was there there was a new crew of younger guys. I was gone for about 4 months so I don't know when these changes began.

                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                          see my post above...it got lost somehow...his name is mustapha...he doesnt work the night cart much anymore....

                                          1. re: Cpalms

                                            Right, he was working the day cart every day for over a year but now I don't see him anymore.

                                  2. re: KTinNYC

                                    KTinNYC (and Midtown Lunch) is right; I worked in the area over the summer and ordered from the 7th Ave. outpost at least once a week -- SW corner of 53rd and 7th.