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On-the-move eaters, such as New Yorkers, need food that’s just as fast but won’t slow them down. Midtown Manhattan is known for its world-famous attractions like Times Square and the Empire State Building, but come lunchtime, these food trucks and carts are the only spots worth lining up for.
Right up there with Central Park and Grand Central Terminal, The Halal Guys is one Midtown attraction that even locals can get behind. The most famous of New York City’s many street carts delights local professionals, foodies and tourists alike with its juicy chicken and lamb with rice and the Guys’ cult-favorite white sauce. Tip: The Halal Guys has expanded to five carts and two brick-and-mortar locations, but the original (and arguably best) cart can be found at West 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue.
Wafels & Dinges’ yellow trucks have become almost as iconic (and ubiquitous) as New York City taxi cabs—while smelling a whole lot better. Belgian waffles with dinges, or toppings, such as Spekuloos and Belgian chocolate fudge, attract an international following at Central Park, Bryant Park, and more Midtown locations.
Plant-based eaters will be excited to learn that The Cinnamon Snail is growing at a very un-snail-like pace. The popular vegan food truck, which can be spotted roaming around New York City and New Jersey, comes to its first permanent stop at the Madison Square Garden-adjacent Pennsy Food Hall. When the truck is nowhere in sight, Midtown diners can still enjoy cruelty-free sandwiches and burgers plus homemade donuts and pastries for dessert.
Like The Cinnamon Snail, Korilla BBQ boasts both a roaming food truck and a brick-and-mortar location in Midtown. Even if you’ve never tasted Korilla’s beef bulgogi tacos and bacon-kimchi fried rice, you’ll likely recognize its famous black-and-orange tiger-striped truck, whose Midtown stops include 55th Street and Broadway, 47th Street and Park Avenue, and 52nd Street and Sixth Avenue.
The average halal cart doesn’t rake in rave reviews from Grub Street and The New York Times, but Kwik Meal, which boasts three Midtown carts, isn’t your ordinary “street meat” truck. Chef and owner Muhammed Rahman is an alum of New York City’s iconic Russian Tea Room—a high-end history hinted at by the toque and jacket Rahman sports in the cart as well as by his celebrated marinated lamb meat over fragrant basmati rice and distinctive jalapeño hot sauce.
A coveted five-star rating on Yelp isn’t the only remarkable thing about Royal Halal. At this husband-and-wife-owned truck, chicken over rice is elevated from street eats to something worth seeking out with the aid of an Indian spice marinade, turmeric-stained basmati rice, and a complex white sauce.
Serving New York City’s streets is in the Karagiorgos family’s blood. This “World-Famous Greek Food truck” parked on Midtown’s 51st Street and Park Avenue occupies the same corner on which owners Nick and Franky’s Uncle Gus once operated a hot dog and pretzel cart. Today, Uncle Gussy’s has swapped pretzels for platters, souvlaki, and salads featuring fresh meats sourced and seasoned the day before.