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Food carts are a funny thing. Some people love them, some people hate them. They are universally accepted for some things, like hot dogs, or pretzels but seem mysterious for other things (the term “street meat” comes to mind). I’ve seen very few restaurants that specialize in the “Halal Food” you get at a cart, and there are not many carts that stray from serving some form of Gyro, Falafel, Hot Dog or Pretzels. You’ve got your breakfast carts (bagels, donuts and coffee) which are popular for their price, and the fruit carts, which offer people who love to be healthy a chance to eat at a cart. (Those people don’t tend to enjoy skillet fried lamb, covered in white sauce.)
Some carts are destinations (Hello Berlin Cart, Daisy May’s BBQ Cart, The Arepa Lady in Queens, or the Carts at the Ballfields in Red Hook), while others remain nameless, taking advantage of a highly populated corner of the city. I love eating at carts. It’s not because the food is so great, but it just seems like more fun. There something about the immediate gratification, the fact that their kitchen is on the side of the road, and of course- weird meat sort of excites me (that didn’t come out right). (My favorite street meat ever… the lady on the right selling street meat on a stick- in Bali)
A little over a month ago, I walked by a new cart near my office… Happy Teriyaki BBQ on 50th between 6+7th. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Teriyaki Cart before in Midtown… and because of my love of Asian food I was immediately interested. Shortly after, I started to receive the emails… the first one said it was terrible. Worst food ever. But then I got two more, one that recommended the spicy pork and another that swore by the BBQ Tofu. I’m always up for trying a new cart… so yesterday I headed over with my reluctant wife to check out this new cart.
What we ordered, the pictures and the +/- after the jump…
The lack of good Mexican food in New York City is a well known fact. You saw what happened when Midtown got a Chipotle. It shows how pathetic our choices for Mexican really are. In L.A. (where I used to live) taco stands are a way of life… and it boggles my mind that so few places in NYC are able to recreate something that seems so simple. 2 Soft corn tortillas, some good roast pork or chicken, and some salsa (preferably salsa verde). If anybody wants a place to try after work, trek over to 10th avenue btw. 47th and 48th- Tehuitzinga is outstanding.
Anyway, I’ve heard rumors that Pampano Taqueria on 3rd Ave. is the only worthwile Taco in Midtown- but on this day I was on my back from a failed trip to the Burger Joint (line was too long) and decided to stop at this taco cart that some people from my work had eaten at. And quite frankly, how could you blame me? Could you resist a cart that looks like this one. I mean, nothing says authentic quite like a giant sombrero with a picture of Speedy Gonzalez on it (aren’t there any Trademark lawyers in Midtown?). But that’s typical Midtown for you. Dumbing it down for the business lunch crowd… “Can you tell we’re not a halal cart by our big stupid looking Mexican hat?” I wonder if you can see it from the top of Rockefeller Center?
Despite the sombrero, I decided to try the place out. I love trying dirty, annonymous carts- and this one certainly fits the bill. For $4 you get a Taco with Chicken or Beef, Spanish Rice and Beans w/ melted cheese. $7 will get you the same combo with two tacos. For the sake of comparison (and because I’m a fat bastard), I went with the two taco combo (one beef, one chicken). The minute he started making my meal, I had a sneaking suspicion I was in big big trouble.
Pictures of the food, and the +/- after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »