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89th And Broke

I'm a young professional living in Astoria (formerly of Williamsburg, the UES and Murray Hill - I move a lot!). I'm always looking for something fun to do or the best place to grab a drink and dinner at an affordable price around the city. Have a suggestion? Email me at Laura AT 89thandbroke DOT com.

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Street Carts: Classy or Trashy?

Since starting my job in NYC, I’ve been tempted with the smell of Rafiqui’s Street Cart.  Even the smell of gyros at 8:55 a.m. could send my stomach into an instant growl.  However, for one reason or another, when grabbing a bite to eat I found myself heading over to an establishment that had a door, tables and a lease.

My co-worker Doug had mentioned street cart dining to me, and when I found out a gyro was only a mere $4, I couldn’t believe I had been ignoring this deal for all these months.  When my parents and I were rushing to find a place to grab a bite before a show one weekend, I suggested street cart fare, and my mom looked at me in disgust – “Laura, you will get sick, those people don’t wash their hands.  There isn’t a sink in those carts.”

Like any good child, I ignored her advice, and have since enjoyed a few street cart meals.  To date, I will have to say my favorite street cart vendor is on 31st and Park Ave South, on the southwest corner.  While street cart names are sometimes unmemorable (and yes, my friends and I refer to this establishment as “the guy on the corner”), the vendor is a friendly guy and his food is excellent.  When I asked if he would suggest a chicken or falafel gyro, he insisted on letting me try both and combined a sandwich – all for a mere $4.  You don’t see employees at other fast food establishments offering this kind of service.  As far as street cart vendors go, this guy had a collection of sauces unlike any vendor I’ve ever seen – the traditional white sauce and hot sauce, but he got creative with the gyro by having options such as ketchup and bbq.  Furthermore, the meal left me satisfied and full, and mom, as far as getting sick post-meal, I did not have a “street cart hangover” (unlike my chipotle coma and quiznos hangovers).

Overall, I’m now a firm believer in street cart dining and wish I hadn’t been a snob before.

The Basics
Name:  Street Cart Guy on the Corner
Location: 31st and Park Ave South, SW Corner
Who to Take:  Co-workers
Price:  Even a homeless person can afford it -$
Overall:  Become a regular.  5 Stars.

7 comments to Street Carts: Classy or Trashy?

  • Doug

    Wow, a shout out in your blog! Thanks Laura.

    I think you definitely nailed the essence of street carts in this post. When its just me and the guy on the corner, I don’t feel like I’m at a cart, but sitting at a table in his kitchen, watching as he prepares my personal meal over his range. And I like to believe the feeling is mutual. I’m not his customer, I’m his guest, and he goes out of his way to make my lunch extra special. Whether it is letting me slide by a dollar, or taking the extra time to flatten my meat so its easier to eat, I feel like the street cart on the corner offers home prices with the quality of a restaurant.

  • Hey Laura,
    Great Blog! Do you think street car guy on the corner would send me a falafel gyro? NYC sounds so de-lish.

  • Andy

    I am not surprised that you continue to ignore your Mom’s advice – after all thats what most kids do!!

    Of course, there is no guarantee that people wash their hands in sit-down restaurants either, so they are just as much a crapshoot as the guy on the corner (watch Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, for example) . The bottom line is you had the affordable meal, thoroughly enjoyed it and lived to tell about it

  • Vivek

    I agree, the guy next to Chipolte is better then Rafiquis…I have been a fan of street car dining for a while…maybe we should do an office street car dining olympics? that would be awesome.

  • bird

    Happy street cart dining!

  • […] ago, I wrote about street cart dining and if they were classy or trashy.  Unfortunately, the street cart I was in love with on the SW corner of 31st and Park has since […]

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