Travel theme: Food

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.

food carrot pizza

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.

food halal guys manhattan

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…

food halal guys manhattan

…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.

food halal guys manhattan

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).

food halal guys manhattan

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.

food halal guys manhattan   food halal guys manhattan

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.

food halal guys manhattan

Falafel sandwich ready to go

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?

xxx Ailsa

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About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
This entry was posted in Guatemala, New York, Photography, Travel, United States, Weekly Travel Themes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

195 Responses to Travel theme: Food

  1. Marianne says:

    MMmmmm …. I´ll try these guys next time I´m in New York. I must admit, I had to Google what “gyro” is!! 😉

    I´m sure you will get a fantastic response to this week´s Travel Theme, Ailsa.

  2. adinparadise says:

    That falafel sandwich looks scrumptious, Ailsa. Your descriptions of the tastebud experience are second to none. Great theme. I’ll see what I can come up with, although I often seem to be blogging about food, and have even had a few halfhearted complaints about making people feel hungry. 😉

    • ailsapm says:

      Thanks, adinparadise, can you tell I like my food? If your blog posts are making people feel hungry, I consider that a job well done!

  3. topher79 says:

    ohh that food looks so yummy! Lucky it is dinner time for me

  4. cocoaupnorth says:

    Oh yummy! the falafel sandwich looks delicious. Just made me hungry all this talk about food:-)

  5. Pingback: Travel Theme: Food | a hectic life

  6. ahecticlife says:

    I hope my take on this one is ok…

  7. Madhu says:

    Oh that looks awesome! The best falafal I have had is not in the middle east, but in a tiny little eatery in the Marais in Paris called L’As du Fallafel. Lovely theme Ailsa. Will be drooling all week no doubt 🙂

    • ailsapm says:

      Ooh, I shall have to seek it out next time I’m in Paris. I love falafel. The coolest name for a falafel place I ever saw was in London’s Covent Garden – they called it “Just Falafs” – and it made me laugh!

  8. Pingback: Travel theme: Food | Minute descriptions of me *Kristopher*

  9. Pingback: Eating your way abroad | thirdeyemom

  10. thirdeyemom says:

    Fabulous post and topic Ailsa! I would love to live in NYC but would obviously need to make a lot of money so I could enjoy the food! Here is my entry!
    http://thirdeyemom.com/2012/07/13/eating-your-way-abroad/

    • ailsapm says:

      Thanks Nicole – yes, it can get very expensive very quickly in NY – as you’ll find out, I’m sure, when you visit in August 🙂 Love your Moroccan cooking class 🙂

  11. Hey Ailsa: You are making me hungry!!! 🙂

  12. Great post. Ahh, street carts and food trucks are a gastronomic adventure on wheels.

  13. Anne Camille says:

    I LOVE the Halal Guys! Have never been adventurous enough to try the hot sauce. You’re making me miss NYC. 😦

    I’ll have to decide which place I’ll write about, but it likely will be the one place that both my husband and I agree was one of the best meals we ever had.

    • ailsapm says:

      Next time you’re in town, Anne, give the hot sauce a whirl – but start slowly – just add a single drop to some white sauce and see how you handle it. The amount of red sauce on the falafel in the photo is just about the right amount for me, but I like seriously hot food. Much more than that and you could fuel a nuclear reactor! I’m intrigued now to see what you’re going to write about.

    • Anne Camille says:

      Here is my contribution: A lunch in Giverny. http://wp.me/p1tzBV-1w0

  14. Pingback: Travel Theme: Food | My Sardinian Life | My Sardinian Life | La Mia Vita Sarda

    • ailsapm says:

      The horse meat freaked me out, I have to admit, but the cookies look yummy – so does the guy holding the plate of oysters 😉

  15. Pingback: Travel theme “Food” | Campanulla Della Anna

  16. Ummmm … very delicious, here’s my travel stories about “food” http://campanulladellaanna.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/travel-theme-food/ Thank you so much @Ailsa, regards 😀

    • ailsapm says:

      Good food in a great location, Della Anna – I’ve been to the Dreiländerpunkt – I actually went to university very close to there, in Aachen, which is a stunning little town. If you’ve never visited, I highly recommend a visit!

  17. badflea says:

    Hahaha!!! Congratulations, You have whetted a lot of people!!!!

    Here my interpretation…plastic food?!?!?

    http://pdf34.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/cibo-food/

    • ailsapm says:

      Great take on the theme, badflea – I remember being fascinated by the plastic food on display in restaurant windows in Japan, but I never found a store that sold it. Great shot!

  18. Amy says:

    New York is a foodie heaven, absolutely! Great post!
    Such a fun theme. Thanks, Ailsa!

  19. Yum! You’re making me hungry!!! I hope a have a few photos of food, since it is simpley one of my very favorite things! 🙂 Another great topic!

  20. Pingback: Travel Theme: Food | Lucid Gypsy

  21. Ailsa, that was a wonderful evening out at the Halal Boys cart – not such a typical New York experience – though ever so chic in the West, I believe.
    It’s a wonderful challenge this week, and it reminds me it’s time to write about Sri Lankan food – while I get it together to do that, i thought I’d reblog the description of the best meal I ever ate – but I’m not sure it’s worked the way I’d imagined. Anyway, here goes http://thewanderlustgene.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/infused-by-alchemy-into-the-sublime-4/

    • ailsapm says:

      Oh my, I have a food hangover just reading your exquisite description of the perfect meal, my fellow foodie.

      • You’re right, food is fabulous, and for travellers, one of the surest ways into a culture, and I’m enjoying putting my Sri lankan feast together – especially knowing there are people out there like you, who enjoy the spices, and the chilli!

        The Venissa meal was something else again, and I’m afraid a superlative, (real) gourmet meal might now have to become one of the must do things I do every time I go somewhere new.

  22. That white sauce IS yummy! Love it!

  23. Pingback: Travel theme: Food | One step at a time

  24. dema1497 says:

    Hi Ailsa, let me show you come of child hood foods and some international food with Indonesian twist 🙂
    http://demaodyssey.com/2012/07/14/travel-theme-food/

    • ailsapm says:

      Squeak – thank you for reminding me about Wagamama, Dema, I used to love going to the one on the Southbank near the Royal Festival Hall – the itame yasai was soooo good – I just googled them and see they’re starting to break into the US and have opened up some restaurants in Boston. I’m going to be in Boston in a few weeks time so will be ordering up a big bowl of itame yasai when I get there! Hurray! 🙂

    • ailsapm says:

      Thanks a million, Emma, and congratulations on your award. I can’t wait to read your posts about volunteering in Africa!

  25. Joy says:

    Ailsa,
    I’m excited to move from spectator to participant this week 🙂 http://joycannis.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/travel-theme-food/

  26. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge x3: Food, Adventure & Dreaming « Canadiantravelbugs's Blog

  27. That pizza looks SO yummy. When in Italy I saw hot dog and french fry pizza… I beleive it was called “American” 😉
    Ailsa great minds must think alike… I have been working on collecting some photos to do a food post myself and then this challenge came in! I took it easy with this and will post when all things are complete… or I have sampled and photographed each dish 😉 I am busy catching up on all the foods I miss while in China.
    Here is my food experience from Vietnam…
    http://canadiantravelbugs.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/weekly-photo-challenge-x3-food-adventure-dreaming/

    • ailsapm says:

      Pho rocks – I was introduced to it in Seattle, of all places. There’s a small chain of restaurants there called Than Brothers and their veggie pho is to die for. So hungry now!

  28. Pingback: Travel Theme: Food « So where's the snow?

    • ailsapm says:

      I love the idea of picking mushrooms, but I’m always too afraid I’ll find that one poisonous one and die painfully over a mushroom omelette 🙂 I guess I’d need to take along an expert.

  29. wow … check out that pizza … I’ll have what you’re having, Ailsa! And here’s my take on this week Foodie Challenge: http://stephenkellycreative.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/ailsas-travel-challenge-food/

  30. Pingback: Ailsa’s Travel Challenge: Food | Stephen Kelly Creative

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  32. Pingback: Travel Theme: Food | mothergrogan

  33. Pingback: Travel Theme: Food | The Retiring Sort

  34. Mystiic says:

    Yummy!!! Now this is a challenge… that gets me going!! I know I’ve missed the many weeks!!! Glad to be back… loads of love… (((hugs)))

  35. Mmmmmm… great food pics! I really like the idea of the carrot pizza!
    Here’s my entry for the challenge. Thanks, as always, for an interesting topic!
    http://theretiringsort.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1992&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2

    • ailsapm says:

      When the pizza came out, I didn’t quite know what to think, but when I took my first bite I was hooked. Quite apart from all the other veggies and cheeses on the pizza, the sugar in the carrots had slightly caramelized so the whole pizza had a deliciously sweet roasted flavour to it. Nomnomnom! Love your foodie adventures in California and China.

  36. Mystiic says:

    here’s my first entry!!! http://mystiic.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/travel-theme-food/ … I could give you the recipe too!! 😉

  37. Pingback: FOOD – I’m Ravenous! What’s Cooking? « Zeebra Designs & Destinations

  38. Pingback: Travel: The Food In Florence « beyondpaisley

  39. Yay for food travel fun! This finally gave me the inspiration I needed to blog about the food in Italy. 🙂 http://beyondpaisley.net/2012/07/14/travel-the-food-in-florence/

  40. Pingback: TRAVEL THEME: FOOD « Francine In Retirement

  41. fgassette says:

    Enjoyed your post about food. When in NYC we did try out one of the food vendors, wish I knew about the one in your post. Here is my entry for this weeks theme. http://wp.me/p23TG1-10M

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

    • ailsapm says:

      Thanks Francine, enjoyed your lobster post – I’m with you, I could never choose a lobster from a tank knowing that I was sentencing him to death by boiling – I have an innate compulsion to give animals names, so I would probably choose a lobster, call him Snappy, bring him home and let him live in my bathtub 😉

  42. eludingennui says:

    Hello there,

    I wish I was as brave as you and tried more food when I was in around Lake Atitlán .

    Here is my offering for the week:
    http://eludingennui.com/2012/07/14/travel-challenge-food/

    Bon Appétit

    • ailsapm says:

      Next time, try something new! I broke all the advised food rules while I was there, eating street food, and I just know the cheese on that pizza was unpasteurised (and all the more delicious because of it), but I was really careful about what water I drank. Never had a problem. A lot of my friends went down with violent stomach problems, but I suspect it was because they were using tap water to make their coffee – and the percolator didn’t boil the water, just heated it up. Thanks for introducing me to the spicy delights of Old Bay!

  43. Pingback: Travel Challenge: Food | Eluding Ennui

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