Food and travel go hand in hand. I adore trying new cuisines and have had many interesting culinary adventures. One of my most recent discoveries was carrot pizza which I had on the shores of Lake Atitlán – absolutely delicious. I’m still traumatised by the memory of discovering legs on what I thought were crisps (chips if you’re American) in Japan.
New York is a foodie heaven. There are countless restaurants, bistros, diners, cafés, coffee shops, chophouses (I’m still not entirely sure what that is – do they just serve chops?) and many of them carry a hefty price tag. You could actually go bankrupt trying them all. So it might come as a bit of a surprise that the place I recommend to everyone who visits will cost you at most $6.
At 7pm each evening, a line begins to form at the corner of 6th Avenue and 53rd Street. The line is made up of business people in suits, shoppers, kids, backpackers and the occasional world-renowned chef.
The street is lined with cop cars, taxis and limos, pulled over to the side and parked askew, doors flung open as their drivers spill out onto the sidewalk and get in line…
…because this is when The Halal Guys roll into town. They set up their cart at 7pm each evening and stay open right through the night until 4am (5am on Friday and Saturday). The stream of hungry customers never lets up the entire time they’re in town. Beware of imitators – there are many. Look for the yellow shirts and the yellow bags and you’ll know you’ve found the real deal.
The menu is pretty simple, but it is done extraordinarily well. First you choose between chicken, gyro or falafel (I’ve seen some people go crazy and order half chicken half gyro) and then you choose whether you want it in a sandwich ($4) or over rice ($6).
I’ve only had the falafel, but it is the best falafel I’ve ever tasted. Hands down the best; just the perfect amount of moisture and an intoxicating mix of spices, served with some lettuce and cheese. Then you move over to the sauce rack and kick things up a notch.
I’ve heard people refer to the white sauce as crack, and I can’t argue. I don’t know what the ingredients are but it will make your tastebuds weep for joy. But the hot sauce. Oh, the hot sauce. I live for spicy food. I have been known to use the phrase “hot enough to make a grown man cry” when ordering levels of spiciness in a restaurant – and even I respect the hot sauce at The Halal Guys. Just a light drizzle will have your eyebrows sweating and your eyes tearing up. So, so good. If you are in any way delicate about spices, heed my warning: Back away from the hot sauce.
There are two other Halal Guys carts- West 57rd and 7th and East 53rd and 6th – but I head straight for the main cart, because it’s always an experience.
Now I just know you have a food experience to share, so create your own post between now and next Friday, title it “Travel theme: Food” and put a link to this page in your blog post to make it easy for others to find your post. Don’t forget to check back in next Friday for a new travel theme.
What food are you going to share?