I’ve been hearing good things about Magdy’s cart on the northeast corner of East 46th St and Park Ave (between Park and Lex) and wanted to give it a try. It’s right across the street from the Grand Central/Met Life building entrance on 46th and Park Ave, which gets a lot of foot traffic.
Magdy’s is generally known for their Philly cheese steaks, although their chicken scampi over rice is pretty well-regarded too. They have been around for a long time – apparent from their menu board, pictured above. Luckily, their food tasted much better than their menu board looked. The line of 10 people was another clue.
Magdy’s is another cart that cooks fresh to order, like Carnegie John’s and Tony Dragonas‘ carts. IMHO, this makes all the difference. I don’t go to many of the halal carts where the chopped chicken or lamb sits in the the corner of the grill waiting for an order. When I walked up, there were four steaks and six chicken breasts on the grill. While I was waiting in line, one of the guys chopped up the chicken breasts for the next few orders.
There was one thing that surprised me, but ended up making perfect sense. When I got on line, a woman came up to me and asked what I wanted to order. Being a suspicious New Yorker, I wasn’t sure if she was with the cart, or was going to just take my money and walk away. I said I wasn’t sure what I wanted yet, so she went to the guy who just walked up behind me. He was obviously a regular because he ordered, took out his wallet and paid her. After receiving payment, she walked up to the cart to relay the order, so my suspicions were unfounded.
When she came back to me, I ordered the cheese steak and she asked if I wanted single or double meat. Having learned my lesson with double meat at the bulgogi cart a few days ago, I said single meat, and she said $4 ($4?!).
That’s another thing Magdy’s is known for, their cheap prices. Anyone can serve crap cheaply, but they serve good food cheaply. That’s not easy to find. The other good thing about having the woman walk the line and deal with orders and payment is the two guys at the cart were able to fully concentrate on food and not have to deal with money. This definitely speeded up the process, with the line of 10 people taking no more than 10 minutes.
When it was my turn, he put 3 (!) slices of american cheese on the steak and asked if I wanted grilled onions, lettuce, tomato or sauce. I asked for grilled onions, lettuce, white sauce and hot sauce. They also had bbg sauce and ketchup available. Man, this looked good!
When I dug in, it was delicious. The combination of white sauce, hot sauce and melted american cheese was awesome. With the grilled steak, onions and lettuce, Today’s Lunch was a winner. I can only imagine what a double-meat cheese steak would have been like (for only $6).
I ‘d give Today’s Lunch a 9 out of 10, but the cheap prices gives it another quarter-point, so it ends up with a 9.25 out of 10. Next time, I’m looking forward to having the chicken scampi.