I heart cart. Not gonna lie. Give me some chicken or lamb and white sauce, hot sauce, and I'm one happy camper. In my time in the city I've tried some of the great (and the not so great carts), but never pitted cart against cart on a larger scale and by larger scale I'm talking a 13 cart head-to-head street meat over rice battle royale. Yes, oh yes, a midtown cart smackdown engineered by none other than the Godfather of Midtown Lunch, Zach Brooks...
When Zach first floated the idea of a Street-Meat-Palooza, Blondie and I were immediately committed. So committed in fact that we did a little pre-cart match up pre-gaming sampling some local carts to see if they were worthy to competitors...yes, we are that dedicated.
The ML meet up itself was terrific. It was nice to see so many Midtown Lunchers including our buddy Danny of Food in Mouth and to meet, Talida, Downtown Lunch correspondent and photog extraordinaire, Daniel Krieger, the Homesick Texan, Erin and Hannah from Serious Eats: New York, as well as Dubbin in Brooklyn, Neil, Nina, and a number of other commentators from ML.
Now on to the food! Zach's write up has pretty much everything you'd want to know about the process and the results, so I'll just add in a few side comments...
Kwik Meal also got high marks though was lower than I might have expected. In terms of value, I agree that it's gotten pricey. Something is definitely wrong when a chicken pita from a street cart cost $5. But I love their special hot green hot sauce and their tangy yogurty white sauce. Sometimes I'm totally in the mood for compressed lamb log food product, which I can get at most pita carts, but the thing that sets Kwik Meal apart from the pack for me is the real chunks of lamb meat that they serve. Pricey yes, but in my book a worthwhile occasional treat.
Which carts did Blondie and I contribute combos from? That would be Magdy's for Blondie and the Biriyani Cart for me. Unfortunately they ended up at the bottom of the heap. Aw sad. But it wasn't like we were contributing our personal favorite cart combos. We both just happened to have offices near these two carts. And, to be fair, Blondie did provide the cart recon info that lead to including the dark horse pick as the #2 cart, XPL Halal in the match up. Mmmm, definitely making a return trip there soon!
Special thanks to Zach for putting this excellent event together! And thanks to Mamacita, too! Can’t wait for Street Meat Palooza II!
And lest I forget...Blondie with her chocolate cake from the Bossman. Sorry you couldn't make it for lunch with us! For the record 1) I heard the cake was delish and 2) she didn't share with me.