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Where To Find The Best Street Food In New York

19 November, 2021by Bounce

Finding the best street food in New York City is as simple as turning the street corner. Street vendors are hawking their simple, yet creative dishes to pedestrians and urging them to sample new and innovative street foods inspired by other flavors from around the globe. Stop by one of these fantastic mobile eateries and get your fill.

Does delicious coconut ice cream make you hungry? How about Southeast Asian style tacos or honey roasted nuts? And there is no shortage of stalls boasting authentic Philadelphia cheesesteaks – that's right, they are a New York staple, too! Savor a cinnamon snail in midtown Manhattan or hot dogs topped with turkey chili on a soft bun, found on the block of the Rockefeller Center.

The time of the hot dog cart has evolved into some of the most amazing street food you will ever taste. The timeless and treasured food carts still exist but they have also evolved to offer delectable fare for those who are constantly on the go. Food trucks have also become a staple on the streets of NYC.

From Wooster Street to Herald Square and beyond, classic NYC fare awaits! Whether you are in the mood for classic American, Mexican, French, Jamaican, or Korean, NYC street food vendors have you covered.

The best street food vendors in New York City

Drop your heavy bags and extra gear at one of our New York luggage storage lockers so you have both hands available to eat with! Why? Because street food in NYC is as iconic as the city itself. From the basic hot dog vendor to the vibrant food truck, NYC’s street food scene is thriving. NYC is filled with vendors, many of who have regular spots throughout the city and regular customers, all offering delicious food that will make your mouth water. Check out these fantastic vendors next time you are hungry.

Makina Ethiopian Food

Location: Location changes daily; check their website for the location of the day

Dishes are inspired by the owner/chef’s deep Italian, Ethiopian, and Eritrean roots. The injera is especially tasty and is served with veggies such as collard greens and red lentils, and chicken or beef. Injera is simply a sourdough flatbread that is light and fluffy. The injera is served with a side of rice.

Another popular dish is tibs, which is either sliced lamb or beef that is pan-fried in butter with onions and garlic. This is one of the best food trucks in New York for those with dietary restrictions as all dishes can be made vegan or vegetarian and all are naturally gluten-free.

Joe’s Steam Rice Roll

Location: Flushing, Chinatown, and East Village

Rice rolls can be found on basically any dim sum or street food vendor’s menu that is jammed into every nook and cranny along the crowded streets of Chinatown. We're talking New York street food to be enjoyed any time of day, from early morning to the late night hours in season. What sets Joe’s Steam Rice Roll apart is the cheong fun that is used; or translucent, broad rice noodles that are filled with meat, usually pork, shrimp, or beef and doused with soy sauce.

Joe’s has expanded out of Chinatown and this popular treat can be snapped up in the East Village and Flushing so you do not have to fight the large crowds in Chinatown. Grab a plateful of rice rolls from Joe’s and delight at the flavors that explode on your taste buds.

Ling’s Fresh Made Sweet Mini Cakes 

Location: Corner of Mulberry Street and Canal Street in Chinatown 

Located only a block from Kam Man, a shop specializing in unusual snacks and condiments, Ling’s offers their sweet treats at an unbelievably low price. These cakes are actually more like pancakes but not as dense or as large. They have a natural taste that makes street food in the Big Apple so special!

These mini cakes are served in a wax pastry bag, making them easy to carry and snack along the way – or grab an outdoor seat and people watch in this melting pot of a city. You can have chocolate sauce added to the tops of your treat but they really are sweet enough and delicious without it. Take home a couple of orders to share with family or save for a snack later in the day after visiting some of the terrific museums in NYC.

NY Dosas

Location: Greenwich Village

The Dosa Man, Thiru Kumar, has been in business since 2001 serving Indian fare and has a huge base of loyal customers. If you are a foodie and are in New York City, NY Dosas is the place to head. You can always find the Dosa Man’s food cart in Washington Square Park in the southwest corner.

A dosa is a popular dish in southern India and is India’s version of the crepe. It is filled with delicious vegetables and samosas. This dish is a favorite with vegans and nonvegans alike. The southern Indian flavors collide inside your mouth creating something very special. Head to lower Manhattan in Greenwich Village and visit the Dosa Man.

King Souvlaki of Astoria

Location: Astoria neighborhood in Queens, NY

Hungry New Yorkers searching for something a bit unusual will love visiting King Souvlaki of Astoria. You can usually find this food truck on 31st Avenue and 31st Street in Astoria, a neighborhood in Queens. Specializing in Greek food, you do not want to miss the chance to taste these wonderful flavors. 

The main dish served is the souvlaki. Souvlaki is cubes of meat and vegetables grilled on a skewer, very similar to a kebab. Most people eat it right off the skewer or inside a rolled pita. King Souvlaki uses pork, chicken, or beef and then stuffs French fries inside a pita with the grilled meat, tomatoes, and onions, then lightly sauced with a flavorful white sauce.

Doc’s Grill

Location: Tribeca in Lower Manhattan

Serving classic American comfort foods, Doc’s Grill is run by a former Navy medic who went to culinary school after he served his country. His food truck serves the best grilled cheese sandwich with the cheese oozing with every bite.

These amazing sandwiches are made with muenster, gouda, and Swiss cheese toasted on fresh brioche bread. The fare may be simple but it will take you back to your childhood and wrap you in a warm hug. Grab one of Doc’s grilled cheese sandwiches on a cold, blustery New York day.

The Halal Guys

Location: Midtown

If you are in the mood for Middle Eastern cuisine, The Halal Guys is the place to go. The original food cart has been around since 1990 and has expanded to a fleet of street carts that can be found throughout Midtown. Sometimes you are just in the mood for something out of the ordinary, and this is the vendor to visit!

The halal lamb or chicken is a favorite with their regular customers and it is served over a bed of rice and a yogurt dressing with a creamy texture that is slightly tangy and sour. Add a dash of hot sauce to spice the dish up even more. Halal carts are about as iconic as the Big Apple itself.

Los Tacos No. 1

Location: Times Square and Chelsea

The Mexican food scene in New York has exploded in recent years and can now rival the iconic restaurants in Los Angeles. Los Tacos No. 1 is owned by a group of friends, two transplanted from California and another from Tijuana.

At the Chelsea Market location, there are several sit-down locations to enjoy your excellent meal. Tacos of every shape, flavor, and size seem to be available at Los Tacos as well as mouth-watering adobada quesadillas made with crisp corn tortillas and topped with pineapple and strips of pork.

Divine Flavored Food Truck

Location: Midtown East

The full name of this colorful truck is Godshelter Oluwalogbon’s Divine Flavored Food Truck, but most New Yorkers simply call it the Divine Flavored Food Truck. Located in Midtown right outside the Nigerian Embassy, the West African dishes are amazing.

Order the dun dun, or fried yam fingers, or maybe the efo elegusi, a green stew made with vegetables, is more to your liking. If you are looking for an amazing breakfast on the go order the Akara, or a fried bean patty made with salt and onions, is a West African breakfast staple.

Mysttik Masala

Location: Midtown or Midtown East

The truck tends to move throughout Midtown, usually around 54th Street and Park Avenue, but you can follow them on Facebook for their daily location. It is the place to go when you are looking for fragrant, spicy Indian cuisine. You can even enjoy a samosa when you order here.

The biryani is a rice dish made with chicken, lamb, or fish and usually has eggs, vegetables, and/or potatoes, and of course, iconic Indian spices. The chana masala rice platter is also an excellent choice. It is made of chana, a type of chickpea, and is liberally doused with a spicy sauce.

Where to find the best New York City street food spots

While you can find great street vendors throughout New York, there are a few specific places where they seem to abound and you have your choice of vendors offering delicious fare from around the world. Whether you are looking for a quick snack or a full meal, vendors here will have something to hit the spot. Hop on the subway or bus and try the following eateries.

Chinatown

Located in Manhattan, NYC’s Chinatown is a very densely populated area filled with narrow streets and so many things to see and experience. You will definitely want to go through Chinatown on foot so you can check out all the nooks and crannies and breathe in the wonderful smells coming from the vendors.

The crowded streets will be filled with tourists visiting sights. You will be overwhelmed by the many dim sum, dumpling, and noodle eateries as you make your way through Chinatown. Be ready to sample a few dishes from several vendors and then check out a few of the basement bars for great refreshments.

Greenwich Village

Head to Lower Manhattan’s west side and spend a day exploring Greenwich Village, where the street food scene has begun to grow quite a bit. Even the Dosa Man of NY Dosas has set up shop here and has a very loyal following.

Whether you are spending the day in the neighborhood, work nearby, or are searching for amazing street fare, Greenwich Village offers a diverse culinary scene filled with classic American favorites and treats from around the globe.

Times Square

This major tourist destination is one of the most visited places in NYC so it is only natural that vendors have migrated to Times Square. From the basic hot dog cart to colorful trucks, there are vendors around every corner as well as several sit-down restaurants along the way.

Los Tacos No. 1 has even been spending time in Times Square to take advantage of the high volume of tourist traffic. After all, it's a great location! Grab your wallet and your tums then head to this iconic square for a tour of street vendors offering everything from savory to sweet.

Midtown

The central borough in Manhattan, Midtown is a pulsing hub for hungry New Yorkers but there are also plenty of sit-down restaurants here, too. Home to the Empire State Building and the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project, tourists and locals tend to flock here to check out the sights.

Vendors selling amazing dishes have discovered the bustling streets of Midtown and they offer a wide array of dishes and refreshments. With places like Mysttic Masala, Divine Flavored Truck, and The Halal Guys, you will find something to nibble on from almost every corner of the globe.

Street food festivals in New York City

Festivals are a great way to get to know the city and the different cultures that have melted together to make a tried and true New Yorker. New York does offer a few amazing festivals that give you the chance to sample the various dishes that have been created by these fantastic vendors. From dirty water dogs to deliciously plain hot franks, even the lowly hotdog is king at a festival!

Grub Street Food Festival

Held on the Lower East Side, this festival is a playground for foodies. With over 50 vendors participating, you will eat your way through the festival from start to finish. The festival is open every Saturday from beginning in April and going through October.

Taste of Buffalo

This is one of the biggest food festivals in the United States and is an absolute must-visit when you are looking for a fabulous culinary experience. Located in Buffalo and held annually in July, kick back and watch cooking demos, sample amazing fare, and listen to live music.

The Best Street Food in NYC From Food Trucks to Pop-Ups

New Yorkers do not know how good they have it when it comes to the diverse menu items that the New York street food vendors offer. From Italian ices to beef gyros, to authentic Philadelphia cheesesteaks to Sabrett hot dogs, the New York street food scene can even rival the Michelin-starred restaurants it's competing with for business!

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