Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hail to the Halal Cart on 53rd and 6th

In the last post, I told you about the beau's brother ("BB," for short). In this post, I am going to tell you about the BB's wife ("BBW"), a New York Native, who introduced to an eatery I will never forget, the legendary Halal Cart on 53rd and 6th. But I should preface my post with a warning: there will always be a line of eager patrons excitedly entwined around the street vendor, but the lengthy wait is more than worth it.

Orders from the
Halal Cart are packaged in a wrinkled/pleated aluminum takeout pan, and covered with a cardboard disc with a shiny heat-resistant backing. Inside, after your fingers pry open the aluminum ruching, you will find a bit of Halal heaven on earth.

As for my meal, BBW ordered for all of us. She ordered the "mix" combo, which came with spiced long grain rice, chunks of chicken meat, notable gyro meat, pillowy pita bread, and scrappy squares of iceberg lettuce. The two stellar standouts from the entire combo, were the rice and the lamb. The moist, succulent gyro-fied lamb came in delicious flakes, adeptly carved by knives that sweepingly crisscrossed against the grain of the lamb while it was suspended on the vertical spit. The lamb contained the
ideal proportion of gyro spices. The rice was also well-cooked, with each distinct grain the perfect shade of red and perfect flavor of Middle Eastern spices.

My takeout tin of food also came with two plastic containers of sauce, (1) a mysteriously palatable "white sauce" that no one knows the ingredients for, nor ventures to guess at, and (2) an assasinating "hot sauce." The deliciously addictive "white sauce" tastes like a mild ranch dressing, with the same salad dressing consistency. The "white sauce" provides a classic cooling sensation to the meal (just as a yogurty tzatziki sauce would).

As for the "hot sauce". . . Well, that is another matter, entirely. While I love spicy foods, the
Halal Cart's "hot sauce" tastes like hell. By "hell," I don't mean bad, I mean, eyeball-scorchingly evil, like Satan handmade that stuff with all of the sinister, fiery peppers he could get his hands on. One bite and your eyes will water furiously, like gushing waterfalls, and your frightened tongue will recoil so far into your head, you can feel it lodge into your neck. Basically, just imagine those old Looney Tunes cartoons, where Wiley Coyote would accidentally eat some hot peppers, and spew fire from his mouth while his bloodshot eyeballs bulged out several feet from his face. You will feel the sting from the hot sauce for several minutes, before the numbing, tingly pain abates. Legend has it, that the Halal Cart used to incorporate the hot sauce into the meal, but too many people complained (because they "couldn't handle the truth.")

If you are in the Theater District of Manhattan, and are looking for a bite to eat, I would definitely visit the Halal Cart on 53rd and 6th. It is worth the wait, and more.


  1. mmmm that little bowl of heaven and hell looks like it would make a fantastic breakfast, although I have a feeling I wouldn't be able to handle the truth either!

  2. Oh yes, Foodhoe, I think it would make a fantastic breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

  3. this place is freaken amazing. come ONLY after 7pm as there is another cart in its place before then. after 1am, expect to wait 30 min. yes, i love spicy, but goddam their hot sauce is out of this world

  4. We were there at approximately 11:30pm-ish, so I believe we had the real deal Alex. And I have heard about those impersonators, thanks for crucial clarification!

  5. my favorite halal cart in the city! you are terrible- I'm already in the midst of missing the city, and you taunt me with this ;)

    and psst- I've started a food blog too!

  6. You know, it was good.. but it wasn't that good. I had high expectations coming into it, and the line wasn't nearly as long as I had anticipated. Maybe I'm the only one who wasn't thoroughly enchanted. Although I would definitely eat there again.

  7. mmamamma!
    Can I have some?

  8. Congrats on your wedding Mrs. Sweet T and the new blog! You also taunted me with New Orleans, which I also miss dearly. I can't wait to read more on your new food blog!

    I hate to admit this Generika, but I actually didn't wait in line! The beau did, so I probably enjoyed it more because I did not have to toil or suffer for the benefits!

    You can definitely get some SocialNetworking, but you are going to have to visit 53rd and 6th yourself, as I live in California!

  9. You are one brave soul! I work a block away and I am too afraid to eat it!!!!

  10. There should be no fear, the food is amazing there Ambitious! And if it is the heat that you are afraid of, just ask for it without the hot sauce!

  11. Got SICK eating from this cart last night, pretty severe food poisoning. (My bowl and I have become best friends.)

    Be careful and make sure your food is thoroughly cooked. (They tend to rush when there is a long line.)

    For me, I'm staying away, for good.

  12. Oh gosh, I hope you are okay Food Poisoning. I actually get food poisoning often, and when I do, I never go back to the place where I got ill.

  13. i remember waiting in a very long line for this cart. and it was very, very cold, but worth the wait. the food was great for the few $ you have to shell out for it.

    i also recollect a bogus cart on the opposite street corner trying to compete with the real "chicken & rice" cart.

    i hear that it is a popular place for others to get their hangover fix after they come out of a bar.

    it's definitely a street food favorite of mine!

  14. I love street food RLo, and like you, I am willing to brave extreme temperatures for great food!

  15. Thanks Passionate Eater...

    I'm feeling much better today, boy was that an experience I'd never, ever like to repeat again...

    I read on another blog that someone else got sick recently, and another poster on the same blog saw the men handling money without gloves, then handling the meats right after...

    Be careful everyone!

  16. I am glad to hear that you are doing better Food Poisoning. It seems that the unsanitary nature of the Halal Cart is a huge and inherent risk because the operation runs out of a truck (with tiny and cramped quarters and thus it is hard to keep up with demand without taking some shortcuts).


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