Lunch: Meeting the Local Street Meat, Ali Baba’s Halal Food

photo-3With $5 in my pocket and zero time to actually get away, it was either Papaya Dog’s $4.50 recession special — a pair of dogs and a drink — or a lunch plate from this cart parked on the southwest corner of W. 37th Street and 8th Avenue, which only sells small and large-sized platters of chicken or beef over rice, $3.50 and $4.50, respectively.

I think part of the reason why I hadn’t stopped here until now is the sheer confusion this cart causes me: photos of fries, various plate combinations, signage about falafel, eggplant and fish, but you can only buy rice platters? Huh?

photo-4As far as Midtown street meat goes, Ali Baba’s Halal Cart is no star player, but it’s not bad, either. Beat my expectations. The rice, although plain, was nice and fresh, not as dried out as the rice I had the other week on a plate from the Biryani Cart’s adjacent “Sandwich Cart”; the chicken was no chicken-lamb combination from Meal O’Bama one block east (on the same street), but it was better than average, nice-sized chunks without being too fatty.

And hey, for the price, it’s really excellent. Next tie, to help doctor up the rice, I might ask if he could sauce up the rice, too, even before laying on the meat. Because we all know that white sauce makes everything taste better. …


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