53rd and 6th Halal Cart (aka. “Halal Guys”)
53rd St & 6th Ave
New York, NY 10019
Street food holds a dear place in my heart because it reminds me of home. Food trucks barely count as street food now with the level of complexity and branding they come with. It is the street carts that make one or two things with or without sauce that really remind me of home. 53rd and 6th (or “Halal Guys” as they like to refer to themselves) is one of the best chicken/lamb and rice places in the city. It has become slightly branded (Halal Guys? Really couldn’t think of something better?) but is true to it’s roots of making quick and dirty food. Is has captured the business lunch audience as it is sandwiched between towering office buildings, as well as drunkards late at night as it is simply great drunk food. During lunch, expect to wait at least 30 minutes. They spend about 45 seconds on serving your food (the meat and rice is actually cooked beforehand on the cart next door) so you have an idea of how many hungry people wait for this. You are given the choice of chicken, lamb, or mix. The meat is thrown into the takeaway box with seasoned yellow rice and a few slices of pita bread. They ask if you want white and red sauces and if I were you, I would say yes to both. The white sauce is a creamy yogurt sauce that cools down the spiceful meats. The red sauce is a very spicy hot sauce that brings back the spice a little more.
What makes this cart better than other Halal carts? I haven’t tried all that many, mainly because after trying Halal Guys, I could never go elsewhere. The meat is very flavorful (not the norm) and actually less greasy than most places. This may be because they cook it at a different cart and bring the meat over to the serving cart so it isn’t sitting in oil. Also because there is always a line so they are constantly making new batches so the meat isn’t marinating in oil waiting to be eaten. The rice is also delicious because it is made like pasta: al dente. With all the juices of the meat and the sauces, the last thing you want is soggy rice. And as mentioned earlier, the sauces really bring the whole thing together. It surely isn’t pretty on the outside. But your taste buds will definitely find it pretty.