Dylan’s Intro to NYC #2: Holla for Halal

In a city where everyone is always running and everything is constantly moving—figuratively as well as literally—a twist on the meaning of fast food is inevitable. Halal food, my newfound love, a perfect culmination of fast, cheap, and delicious, is proof that fast food doesn’t have to be gross.

My love affair with Halal food began on a Thursday. I had passed the cart numerous times, always tempted by the warm scent of spices. My curiosity about the flavor beckoned me after weeks of microwavable rice and vegetables, but I skipped out either because I was hurrying to class, too cheap to dish out cash for food, or too weirded out by the tin-covered carts. After weeks of self-control, during a lunch break and armed with some extra cash, I strutted over for what smelled like a delicious meal. I stood there in front of a menu of images and peered up into the window asking the man for a falafel platter.

Within minutes, a steaming pile of falafel over rice and salad in a Styrofoam container was handed to me with a plastic fork and one flimsy paper napkin.

Photo courtesy of the author

I was mesmerized and looked up at the man, pleased with my decision as the aroma wafted up my nose.

“Soda?” asked the deep-voiced mastermind behind my beautiful lunch.


“Six dollars.”

I was happy by not only the appearance but also the price of my lunch.

After I stumbled away, starstruck by my sustenance investment, I found a seat to take on the decadent meal and dig my plastic fork into the pile of seasoned food. The creaminess of the tzatziki sauce and the crispiness of the falafel was a dream team while the rice not only added an additional flavor but made the meal even more filling. Don’t get me wrong, the meal was no five-star restaurant dish, but it was a delicious change to my normal meals and a huge improvement on my Long Island quick lunch: a McDonald’s snack wrap. A fast meal no longer has to be wilted lettuce and a lukewarm patty or unsatisfying fries.

I am not the only person roaming the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn who loves a good halal lunch. Not only is there always a line outside the carts near Brooklyn College but in front of all of the carts across the five boroughs.

On a trip to the Museum of Modern Art for a project, I passed the famous Halal Guys, whose two carts had lines down the block. I saw the happy faces sitting on benches holding onto their piles of fresh cart food and even a taxi driver shoveling his tiny plastic fork into his mouth while he weaved his car into and out of traffic.

Halal food is everything a city dweller or a city adapter, like me, could need: inexpensive and most importantly, yummy. This city of many cultures adapted the idea of fast food to something incredibly unique and that most everyone loves. I have been converted: whenever I’m craving fast food or need a quick bite, I will be searching for the nearest sketchy aluminum box we call a halal cart.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.