For years, whenever I found myself in the vicinity of the New York Hilton at 53rd and Sixth, I would be re-surprised by the monster line of people standing next to a corner food cart. Others would comment on the weird popularity of the spot. Was it the neighborhood? Dense with publishing houses, the Museum of Modern Art, Rock Center and the hotel? Or was it the food? Some strange attraction that had to be tasted to be believed.
Working as I do now on 54th between Sixth and Fifth, this cart is pretty much across the street and hard to miss. Today I worked up the gumption to try it after reading some glowing reviews on Yelp and checking out the cart’s website. Yes, they are at www.53rdand6th.com
Here’s the deal. It’s a Halal cart. Think Islamic Kosher. There’s a gazillion of them. They serve chicken and gyros and rice. Your basic Bourdainian stoner street food.I usually avoid street meat for the same reason I take lots of Immodium with me to Bangalore. Dirty water hot dogs — not my thing. But street food can be awesome, especially in places like Istanbul, and being a fan of the grey mystery meat known as gyro, I am not above finding my food in the great concrete canyons.
If you want the whole foodie obsessive take on the 53rd and Sixth chicken and rice thing, I suggest you read this guy. People get worked up over whether the day guy is the same as the night guy and whether the mythical “white sauce” is the same. I couldn’t tell you. I ordered a round foil plate of orange rice, chopped up chicken and gyro meat covered with the white goo and a splash of what is allegedly the hottest hot sauce in food cart land. A little sad chopped up iceberg lettuce, some sliced pieces of pita, on went the cardboard lid, into a bright yellow bag it went, and five minutes later I am in my office tempting the e.coli/shigella gods.
Verdict: not bad for $6 bucks, but will give me a fat ass if eaten too often. The rice and pita are decidedly not “paleo” (which makes them all the better for being forbidden). The line, at 11:45 am, was nonexistent, apparently the fun is after the bars close at 2 am. I’m amazed at how people worship the place. Just Google “53rd and 6th”
And people have been killed for cutting the line.