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LA hound seeking street food recs (no tacos!)

  • n

An offshoot of this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/736887

Visiting in a month or so and planning a street food itinerary. What makes NY, NY, as it relates to street food only?

I'm looking for recs for things I CAN'T get in LA, preferably under $6. That's 4 tacos and a drink!

bonus points for a single speakeasy/bar rec.

We'll be staying...somewhere in Manhattan.

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  1. Bagels. Eat a lot of bagels. My favorite is Absolute Bagels on the UWS.

    Absolute Bagels
    2788 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

    1. is there a central website for trucks in NYC or do you have to watch all the Twitter feeds to find them? Someone (hint hint) should write a mobile app for this.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Windy

        on a related note, I'm not interested in FancyTrucks AT ALL. I don't even consider food trucks (except for mexican taco trucks) street food.

          1. re: kathryn

            Bookmarked. Thanks! That will help with weekday lunch.

        1. Most of these are not "fancy trucks" but a lot of the street food these days is new "fancy trucks"%3


          The $6 ceiling is going to be tough to stay under, though, in Manhattan. Especially if you don't want any tacos or anything you can get easily in LA (I assume all Asian is out).

          Best speakeasy (that you can actually get into) will probably be PDT or Death & Co. Show up at 6pm on Sunday-Wednesday. PDT's bar seats are first come first served (the tables are available via reservation at 3pm but only on the day of and it's a tiny bar). All of Death & Co is first come, first served. Both are quite popular and fill up fast, especially since no standing is allowed.


          Please Don't Tell
          113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

          Death & Co.
          433 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009

          27 Replies
          1. re: kathryn

            well, how much is a plate of food at the halal cart? that's the ballpark I'm looking for :)

            1. re: ns1

              The halal carts are your best bets. In Manhattan, I do like the one at 53th/6th, but I wouldn't wait in that long line for it. My favorite is still the Trini-Pak cart on 43rd/6th for their chicken/rice. I also like the halal cart called XPress Power Lunch. And Quick Meal for a slightly different take on the halal plate. However, the better carts are in Queens. Like the King of Falafel cart in Astoria (Broadway/30th), or many of the Ecuadorian carts around Corona (7 train to Junction Blvd), for something different from the Mexican antojitos and taco carts. The byriani cart in Jackson Heights is a bit hit-or-miss, as well as the Nepali momo cart (there are better brick and mortar places for the same price in the area). Otherwise, you might want to check out the Xingxiang kabab carts in Flushing (I think there's at least one in Chinatown, and perhaps one in Elmhurst) for their lamb or chicken (the flavors are similar to the stuff you can find at Feng Mao Mutton Kabab in LA's Koreatown), and they're $1 a skewer. My favorite is the one on Sanford/Main and they do things like squid, quail and a few other things besides the usual lamb/chicken.

              I agree with you about the fancy trucks. Not a big fan of them. I'd rather pay my $5-6 and get a more satisfying meal at any of these places. Oh, and if you're interested in the best bargain Lobster Roll, you need to get to the Stop n' Shop in Forest Hills. They're $4.99 per roll, or 3 for $11.99. Not the greatest, but I usually take them home and take out the lobster salad (and you get a lot of lobster with it), and doctor it up a bit and over stuff 2 rolls to make it a little more to my liking.

              1. re: E Eto

                A lobster salad roll does not equal a lobster roll though.

                1. re: uwsister

                  I've had my fair share of lobster rolls living in the Boston area, and while these aren't up to that level, the lobster is plentiful, meaty and legit, with lots of whole claw meat. No matter how you slice it, it's a fantastic deal, and it takes care of my lobster roll cravings without having to empty my wallet. Let's put it this way. I've had worse lobster rolls along the coast between Connecticut and Boston.

                  1. re: E Eto

                    Sounds great. If I am ever in Forest Hills I will have to check it out.

                2. re: E Eto

                  Per your recommendation of Chinese kebabs, there is an occasional vendor at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge (around Eldridge and Division). I'm not convinced that a dusting of cumin and chili on lamb is worth the trip, but perhaps the squid is better. For that, however, I'm a bigger fan of the Chinese lady on Canal who also sells pork barbecue and fishballs or, for the more adventurous, chicken gizzards.

                  1. re: E Eto

                    yes! these are the types of recs I'm looking for! and i LOVE Feng Mao Mutton Kebab.

                    I'm willing to expand my geographic search to where there is good street food (ie queens)

                    1. re: ns1

                      You might want to get an unlimited MTA pass ($29 for a week). Otherwise your savings on food will be eaten up by subway fares.

                      1. re: Windy

                        Thanks for the tip! We have 64 hours in NYC.

                        ...and we'll have a car.

                        1. re: ns1

                          You might be spending 20 hours looking for a parking spot though.

                          I'm exaggerating, but not by much!

                          1. re: uwsister

                            I don't plan to drive around NYC proper, I'm just saying I have one in case I need to drive out of NYC proper.

                            1. re: ns1

                              ns1 - Oh, okay re: the car. Yeah it makes sense to have a car if you need to go to NJ or the Long Island burbs or something. But for in the city itself, doesn't make much sense to drive.

                              1. re: ns1

                                brooklyn, queens, et al, are NYC proper

                            2. re: ns1

                              Driving around new york and trying to park would be a serious waste of time.

                              I think I replied on your other thread already. But you may want to try the Trini Paki Boys cart for some Trinidadian specialties -- doubles, bake & shark, etc.

                              Trini Paki Boys
                              43rd St and 6th Ave, New York, NY 10036

                              1. re: LNG212

                                I'm excited to try Trini Paki Boys too. Are they weekdays only? I'm going to a Sunday matinee at the Music Box.

                                Or is there anything good for my vegetarian boss?

                                Trini Paki Boys
                                43rd St and 6th Ave, New York, NY 10036

                                1. re: Windy

                                  I'm vegetarian. I only eat the doubles from there. They are really good. Definitely get both tamarind and hot sauce (though it's trini spicy so if you're not okay with really hot, then don't get that). My sisters both like the bake & shark. If it's nice out, you can bring your goodies to Bryant Park to sit and eat; that's what I like to do. Oh and they tend to run out. So don't get there too late.

                                    1. re: ns1

                                      It's basic beach food down there. It's deep fried shark that's stuffed inside deep fried "batter" and put together like a sandwich. You can see a photo here and a recipe too:
                                      http://www.simplytrinicooking.com/200... (like anything, there are a lot of different recipes).

                                      I'm not sure if Trini Paki Boys has shado beni sauce on hand. I have my own so I've never asked them. But that's stuff good on everything too, if they have it there.

                                  1. re: Windy

                                    Windy, sorry I missed the other part of your question. I do think that the Trini cart is weekdays only. You can check midtown lunch.com; they may have more info.

                                    1. re: LNG212

                                      Thanks LNG212!

                                      There's no decent Caribbean food on the west coast except Yucatecan. So this sounds perfect, if not low cal. My client is next to the NYPL. Vegetarian boss is easily pleased.

                                      Now to find time to get up to Güllüoglu for 20 kinds of baklava...

                                      ns1, see you in line for a bake and shark :)

                                      1. re: Windy

                                        Don't overlook the savory pastries at Güllüoglu. They make my favorite spinach bourek with feta and kashkaval cheese.

                                        982 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10022

                                        1. re: JungMann

                                          Maybe I can persuade my client to cater a Turkish lunch of boreks and baklava...and Turkish coffee.

                                        2. re: Windy

                                          hmmm ... I've never thought of doubles as particularly unhealthy, though the bara is fried. Now you've got me thinking!

                                          1. re: Windy

                                            Windy - don't know if you've come yet/gone or if you're still planning on Trini Paki cart. If so, they've moved to the south side of 43rd Street (just east of 6th ave). They told me they'll be there for a while because of some construction going on nearby. Wouldn't want you to miss them as I nearly did today!

                                            1. re: LNG212

                                              Thanks LNG--coming this weekend. And that's perfect for me. Client is at 39th and 5th. I'll update my map.

                                2. re: ns1

                                  You should repost your question to the Outer Boroughs board to get more/better answers.

                          2. I clicked on this thread to recommend the new lobster roll trucks (Luke's, Red Hook) but obviously it's not happening under $6. Worth a try if you are willing to stretch your budget a little bit, I think!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: uwsister

                              We're driving through Maryland so were thinking about grabbing a lobster roll there...

                              there's a lobster truck going around LA (LobstaTruck no less) which seems to import all their stuff from the NE.

                              $14 for the roll, but hey it's lobster what can you do? Better $14 on lobster roll then $14 on 2 chicken balls and some slaw (cough ludobites cough)

                              1. re: ns1

                                I haven't had LobstaTruck, but Luke's Lobster serves a very good one (wouldn't be out of place in Maine) - worth a try if you have room/money. Much better than the Hungry Cat's lobster roll (much touted by L.A. 'hounds.) L.A. is pretty lacking in lobster roll department, though again this LobstaTruck may be promising.

                                I never knew Maryland was well-known for lobster rolls though? To me lobster rolls are strictly New England - Maine/Mass. vs. Connecticut.

                                1. re: uwsister

                                  "To me lobster rolls are strictly New England - Maine/Mass. vs. Connecticut."

                                  doh. I guess we'll need to expand our road trip :D

                            2. http://newyorkstreetfood.com/map/

                              re you considering the outer boroughs (if not, you're lame)?

                              My recs in W. Queens: King of Falafel and Shawarma; Arepa Lady (@Arepalady); Sammy's Halal.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: Joe MacBu

                                Yes I'm considering the outer boroughs. and I've been looking for an Arepa rec, definitely can't (really) get those here.

                                1. re: ns1

                                  The "Sainted" Arepa Lady is usually only out on weekend nights, at Roosevelt and 79th in Jackson Heights, Queens. 7 train.

                                  I think the King of Falafel on Broadway/Crescent (by the C-Town parking lot) in Astoria, Queens is worth the visit. It's the best falafel I've had in NYC (they won the Vendy Awards last year). Accessible via the N train.

                                  On a nice weekend afternoon, you might consider walking the length of Roosevelt Ave. from 73rd St to the high 90s. It will surely be densely populated with lots of street food a la Latin America (not just tacos). On 73rd/Broadway is Sammy's Halal, which won the Vendy Awards a few years ago - the heavily spiced basmati rice distinguishes them. I like the colorful El Guayaquil Ecuadoran truck on 81st or 82nd just south of Roosevelt - yummy seafood soup along with other offerings. You'll no doubt come across carts with a whole roasted pig, and if you're lucky, you can score cuy as well (there's also a cart in the Flushing Meadows Park which has it). But I realize that this stretch may still feel too much like East LA to you.

                                  In Flushing, I second the Xinjiang cart on Main/Sanford mentioned by E Eto. I usually get the lamb, but they also have lamb kidney, squid and duck. Then there's the "duck taco" stand on Main/40th Rd for Cantonese Peking duck in a steamed bun. And if you're in Flushing anyway, you'd be doing yourself a huge disservice by neglecting the Golden Mall - while not a cart, but rather a dingy basement warren of food stalls, much of what is served there is indeed street food from various regions of China.

                                  If you wish, I think Queens is easy to do with a car. I never have parking issues. Flushing might be the only exception, but there's a hidden lot and usually free street parking as well along Northern Blvd west of Prince. But there's also no need to drive at all, since all these places are easily accessible by train.

                                  BTW, unlike in LA, tacos in NYC are generally $2/each. But I think they tend to be a bit bigger.

                                  1. re: Joe MacBu

                                    "The "Sainted" Arepa Lady is usually only out on weekend nights, at Roosevelt and 79th in Jackson Heights, Queens. 7 train."

                                    oes that include Sunday?

                                    22BTW, unlike in LA, tacos in NYC are generally $2/each. But I think they tend to be a bit bigger."

                                    I've paid anywhere from $.75 - $2.5/taco, so really depends on the cart.

                                    Thanks BTW, perfect recs.

                                    1. re: ns1

                                      The Arepa lady only sets up on Fri-Sat nights (usually starting up around 10pm), as she serves mostly the nightlife crowd on Roosevelt with its many Latin nightclubs. Get both the arepa con queso and the arepa de chocolo.

                                      1. re: E Eto


                                        I'm gonna be there SUNDAY - TUESDAY!!!!!

                                        1. re: ns1

                                          Just in case, King of Falafel is closed on Sundays.

                                    2. re: Joe MacBu

                                      Patacon Pisao truck on 202nd St /9-10Av in Manhattan. They serve Venezuelan sandwiches (patacones) which use plantains instead of bread. Arepas as well.



                                      El Dugout Patacon Pisao
                                      431 W 202nd St, New York, NY 10034

                                  2. re: Joe MacBu

                                    this map is fantastic!! thanks for sharing it.

                                  3. i don't think anyone mentioned yvonnes jamaican truck on 70th st (or is it 71st?) and york ave during weekdays

                                    Yvonne's Jamaican
                                    York Ave and E 71st St, New York, NY 10021

                                    1. Last pass for recs. I/ll be in NY Thurs - Sunday. NO car, staying in Manhattan, will have weekly MTA pass.

                                      Open for anything except Vietnamese/Thai/Mexican

                                      Here is a somewhat compiled/sorted list so you guys can see what passed my filter:

                                      Dosa Man, Washington Square South and Sullivan Street

                                      xi'an famous foods on St. Marks. get the A1
                                      81 St. Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003
                                      Xi'an Famous Foods is a must-try. I'd say go to the Chinatown branch on East Broadway as it'll probably be the least busy at this point, now that they have two other branches in Manhattan. I like the pork burger, the spicy cumin lamb noodles, and the Mt Qi pork noodles personally. But everyone's got their favorites

                                      Flushing,Simply put, the largest China Town on the eastcoast. Try the Golden Mall (basement)
                                      -Golden Shopping Mall - while not a cart, but rather a dingy basement warren of food stalls, much of what is served there is indeed street food from various regions of China.
                                      -In Flushing, I second the Xinjiang cart on Main/Sanford mentioned by E Eto. I usually get the lamb, but they also have lamb kidney, squid and duck. Then there's the "duck taco" stand on Main/40th Rd for Cantonese Peking duck in a steamed bun.
                                      -Xingxiang kabab carts in Flushing
                                      -Trini Paki Boys cart for some Trinidadian specialties -- doubles, bake & shark, etc

                                      Dessert: Spot Dessert Bar Omakase

                                      Burgers: Shake Shack
                                      -In that case, I'd suggest going in the evening, or heading to the Hells Kitchen or new Battery Park locations instead of the Madison Square Park flagship.

                                      Best Pork Buns: Momofuku Noodle Bar or Ssam Bar (also must try kimchi apple)

                                      Best Slice: Di Fara in Brooklyn, Patsy's in East Harlem in Manhattan, the square slice at Artichoke, or just go to Company (aka Co.) for lunch, and get a neopolitan sized pie.
                                      - Best Slice: If you're downtown, Artichoke will seriously live up to the hype. The Sicilian slice blows the other options away, so try for that if you make the trip.
                                      - Best pie/slice: If you have time for the pilgrimage, go to Di Fara in Brooklyn. Google the name and you'll read plenty about its merits. As long as you don't go during a high traffic period, it'll be more than worth it.

                                      Ramen - Ippudo/Momofuku (hip), Setagaya (OG).

                                      Hot Dog: Papaya King / Gray's / Crif Dogs' deep fried dogs (no batter) / Nathan's only at Coney Island

                                      Cheesecake: Ferrara's in Little Italy.

                                      BEST B/W COOKIE: Hot and Crust in Grand Central
                                      -Grand Central is the ONLY good location for the "Best" Hot and Crusty B/W cookie. Very fresh and probably nearest to their central kitchen.

                                      Bagels: Russ & Daughters.

                                      Pastrami / Deli - Katz's

                                      17 Replies
                                      1. re: ns1

                                        As someone who lived and dined in LA for 3 years, I suggest you skip the ramen in NYC.
                                        And while Katz's is an institution, the pastrami is better at Langer's in LA.

                                        1. re: Joe MacBu

                                          thanks. I'll probably heed your suggestion regarding ramen, but katz is a must (gotta make the comparison for myself!)

                                          1. re: ns1

                                            Most definitely skip ramen in NYC (as someone who visits and dines in L.A. minimum of 3-4 times a year.)

                                        2. re: ns1

                                          Trini Paki Boys is in midtown. And those doubles are a must.

                                          Since this is no longer a street food/cart list, add: pretzel croissants from City Bakery and gelato at La Cremeria. And bagels at Ess-A-Bagel.

                                          The waffles from Wafles and Dinges were amazing too. Don't waste precious NY meals on burgers. (I posted a trip report on the Manhattan board last week.)

                                          359 1st Ave, New York, NY 10010

                                          City Bakery
                                          3 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

                                          Wafels & Dinges
                                          New York, New York, NY 10001

                                          Trini Paki Boys
                                          43rd St and 6th Ave, New York, NY 10036

                                          La Cremeria
                                          178 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012

                                          1. re: Windy

                                            Since I'm doing the Langers v Katz battle, I have to do the InO vs Shake Shack battle.

                                            1. re: ns1

                                              "I have to do the InO vs Shake Shack battle."

                                              thats a lose/lose as far as i can see

                                          2. re: ns1

                                            What kind of cheesecake are you looking for? I think the best in the city is S&S, though I've never seen them sold by slices only whole. (Made/available in the Bronx; Zabar's usually carries them as well.)

                                            2245 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

                                            1. re: LNG212

                                              I'm looking for delicious cheescake that I cannot find in LA, preferably by the slice and accessible by subway - no other requirement.

                                              1. re: ns1

                                                I've had a great version at Two Little Red Hens in the Upper East Side.
                                                A cheesecake roundup on Serious Eats:

                                                Two Little Red Hens
                                                1652 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

                                                1. re: Joe MacBu

                                                  thanks, appreciate the link!

                                                  quite surprising regarding Junior's, but that's why I'm on Chowhound.

                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                    In that regard, I recommend skipping Patsy's as well. Yes, it was an institution, but it's out of the way for a visitor and I don't think it's worth it. I only recommend it if you need to experience the pizza lineage history. At DiFara's, make sure you get a square as well - I find his round to be really soggy even if it is flavorful. But it is quite the trek for just one place with nothing else notable nearby - not the most efficient use of your limited time. It's a tough call.

                                                    For pork buns, I prefer the one at Temple Snacks in the Flushing Mall. You can do a Momofuku vs Temple Snacks. Not sure if someone already mentioned it, but you might want to visit the New World Mall Food Court in Flushing as well, just to see it at least.

                                                    Sorry the last few recs are off topic for Manhattan board, but whatever....

                                                    1. re: Joe MacBu

                                                      your suggestions will prove quite useful, thanks. I may do Temple Snacks vs MoMo

                                                      WRT: Pizza, I'm not interested in lineage, only deliciousness. I rail Pinks/Philippes (2 LA "institutions") on a daily basis. I may visit Joe's on Bleecker to compare against the LA variants

                                                      1. re: ns1

                                                        Joe's moved from the corner of Bleecker and Carmine to further down the street on Carmine. So I guess it's Joe's on Carmine now?

                                                        I think the Momofuku pork bun vs. Temple Snacks pork bun is a false comparison because they come from two different lineages. Momofuku -- Peking duck w/ hoisin and scallion but sub in pork belly for the duck. Temple Snacks is Taiwanese gua bao with the pickled veggies and peanut powder, etc. A better comparison is Temple Snacks vs Bao Haus which both do Taiwanese gua bao.

                                                        1. re: kathryn

                                                          Temple Snacks is out if they have peanut powder (peanut allergy). Thanks for the info.

                                                          1. re: ns1

                                                            Yikes! Good catch.

                                                            If you want a place for tasty meat in a bun in Flushing, try the duck bun window at Corner 28 instead. Roast duck, scallions, hoisin, he ye bao, aka water lily pad buns.

                                                      2. re: Joe MacBu

                                                        and even at it's peak, i was never wowed by patsy's. i went several times, because i had a friend who swore by it - but many times can you think it must have been an off day, before you realize it's just ok all the time?

                                              2. re: ns1

                                                Please post a report. I'm coming to NYC 1st week of August (from SF) and would like to hear how the recommendations worked out for you.

                                              3. Last minute suggestion, to get you back on your allowance and away from Asian foods -
                                                you might consider Souvlaki GR, some of the booths at Hester Street Fair or Smorgasburg, there's a lot of Falafel options, Ralph's Italian ices, Cibao for latin sandwiches, Caracas Arepas, Kati Roll Co., Jamaican patty's from Golden Crust, Vanessa's for the sesame pancake. OK, so some of that's stuff you can find in LA, and I went Asian on the last one, but maybe it'll be of help.

                                                Vanessa's Dumpling House
                                                118 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002

                                                Caracas Arepa Bar
                                                93 1/2 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                                72 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                                                Kati Roll Co.
                                                49 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

                                                Hester Street Fair
                                                Essex St Hester St, New York, NY 10002

                                                Souvlaki GR
                                                , New York, NY 10001

                                                Souvlaki GR
                                                116 Stanton St, New York, NY 10002