Halal food carts are a city staple, featuring authentic eats for cheap. There are plenty of carts on the streets of New York, but where can you find the highest quality meals? We narrowed it down for you – here are the best bets for a quality food cart lunch or dinner.
Sammy’s Halal Food
6th Ave & W. 4th Street
“Sammy” is Samiul Noor, and his original cart is on 73rd St & Broadway in Jackson Heights, Queens. After winning the 2006 Vendy Cup, Sammy added a 2nd cart in the East Village (Broadway & East 4th St) and in the West Village. Sammy’s chicken over rice for $5 is his go-to dish, but what elevates his food are the sauces: a very spicy hot sauce, and a delicious green sauce that you don’t see on too many other halal carts. Sammy’s chicken is similar in style to other halal carts, but his chicken is fresh, moist, tender, and had no funky stuff in it like joints or cartilage.
53rd and 6th st Halal Cart
53rd St & 6th Ave.
There are some great food trucks in the city, but sometimes you just want a classic New York street food lunch. Find it at Midtown’s most popular halal cart, the 53rd and 6th St. Halal Cart (actual name). The menu is simple: chicken, “lamb” or a combo over rice or on a pita, with white sauce and hot sauce at your option. The combo platter cost $6. There are long lines during the day, and an even larger line at night — take it to mean you’ll be guaranteed fresh food.
The Famous Dal Wagon
39th St & 6th Ave (NE Corner)
Its beautiful Indian decor helps the Famous Dal Wagon, a true Indian food cart, stand out from most others in the city. You won’t find chicken over rice on the menu, but you can get keema masala, puri bhajji, chicken tikka masala, and of course dal. The Famous Dal Wagon was on 32nd St & Park Ave for a number of years, which was a difficult area for us to get to during lunch. They recently moved to the NE corner of 39th St & 6th Ave, only a block from Bryant Park.
55th St & 6th Ave (SE Corner)
One of the better “halal carts” around is Kabab Express, just inside the SE corner of 55th St and 6th Ave. The cart is larger than your basic halal cart, and their menu is as well. The cart needs to be larger because on one side of the cart they cook Afghani kababs over an open flame. The other side of the cart has a deep fryer, where they make falafel and other fried foods, like the fish & chips ($6). The meal comes with two nice sized fish fillets, lightly breaded with some pepper and other spices in the breading.
Indian Tasty Halal Food
44th St (just east of 6th Ave)
A major difference between Indian and Middle Eastern halal carts, besides the herbs and spices, is the rice. Indian style halal carts serve basmati rice, which has longer, thinner grains. It’s more delicate than the yellow rice served at Middle Eastern halal carts. We love the sweet chili chicken dish at the Indian Tasty Halal Food cart – try it with hot sauce to get the right amount of heat in your bite.
Tariq’s #1 Halal Food
19th St & Park Ave South
Tariq’s #1 Halal Food is service with a smile. The cart has earned such a great reputation that Tariq recently had to hire an extra person to man the car with him. We like the chicken biryani, which features pieces of boneless chicken in a creamy sauce, and the pan-fried fish, which is topped with grilled onions Tariq said next time I want fish to call ahead, since it takes about 10 minutes to cook. If you want to call ahead for the fish, his number is 347-757-2736.