NYSF Guest Post: Tariq’s #1 Halal Food Cart by JR

(credit: JR)

We always like to hear about good street food from readers who love it as much as we do. If there is a street vendor you think goes above and beyond the usual street fare, let us know about it. We might even ask you to write a Guest Post, as we did with JR.

JR emailed us a few days ago about a cart that he really likes near his office that’s on the NW corner of Park Ave South & 19th St. It looks just like another generic cart from the outside, but the tip-off is the sign taped to the front of the cart with Daily Specials like shrimp biryani, chicken tikka masala and kati rolls. That means the cart is Indian cuisine as opposed to the usual halal carts. (Update: There is now a sign that says Tariq’s #1 Halal Food)

Without further ado, here is JR’s review of Tariq’s cart, along with some good-looking photos he took.

mixed platter of 3 different chicken dishes (credit: JR)

While the Union Square area is host to a wealth of dining and street food options, good halal carts are scarce. Of course, it’s not hard to find a serviceable chicken over rice in the area, but I have to trek down to Sammy’s Halal on 6th Ave and 4th St (go with the green sauce!) to get a really good one. (NYSF Note: We totally agree about Sammy’s green sauce.)

Two weeks ago, I left my office in search of lunch and found myself waiting in line at a generic looking Halal cart on the NW corner of 19th and Park Avenue South. I can’t put my finger on just why I stopped there, but Tariq, the gentleman running the cart, had a great vibe that pulled me in.

kati roll (credit: NYSF)

I was more than pleasantly surprised by the food. The chicken had been marinated in a blend of spices that gave the dish some real depth, and it was sitting on top of some deliciously earthy basmati rice. Tariq also mixed in some freshly grilled onions and grilled slices of eggplant—his vegetable of the day.

On subsequent trips to the cart, I have enjoyed a tender and flavorful chicken biryani cooked with a special chef’s secret rice. Also of note are his kati rolls, some of the first I’ve seen in the Union Square area. Fat rolls packed with fresh cucumbers, meat and veggies that are almost a meal in themselves.

On most days the owner also had a little something special cooking up on the side that he adds to your dish as a little appetizer. Lately, it has been a sublime chicken tikka that is so good that it might actually be too rich for a full lunchtime dish.

chicken tikka (credit: JR)

While this cart may not win a Vendy Award this year, it is one to watch. As previously mentioned, the cookie-cutter cart is not in any way representative of the food coming out of it. Tariq’s food and his preparation are soulful, and it’s obvious that a lot of care goes into it. He’s not running an assembly line grill with a mountain of half-cooked chicken pushed to the side.

Tariq puts care into each plate he serves, which means that it might take a little longer to get lunch, but it also means that he’ll make you up a combo plate of his greatest hits of the day if you can’t settle on just one thing. And if you love your spicy foods, he will gladly toss in a few (very) hot peppers on the side.

Most of the chicken dishes are in the $5 range with the kati roll coming in at $3.50. While he also serves lamb and a fish over rice dish, I’ve been having such a good time with his chicken dishes that I haven’t felt the need to branch out just yet.

(credit: JR)

Thank you JR for that mouth-watering description. After reading your review, we might head down there to try the shrimp biryani. (Update: After reading this, JR emailed us to say the shrimp biryani is his weakest dish. Tariq says he is discontinuing the shrimp biryani, but has other shrimp dishes planned. BTW, this cart has only been around for a month, so it should get even better.)

If you have a special street food vendor that stands out from the crowd, please email perry@newyorkstreetfood.com. It’s a big city, and we can’t cover it all without your help.

About the author


Gary Kahn - July 11, 2012

Great review, got me to run down there for lunch today. Food is solid and the cook really seems to love his craft. I had the chicken biryani which had tons of flavor. Guy in front of me ordered the fish, which looks amazing.

Kathy - July 11, 2012

Great food. Great service. Great place for a cheap, filling and delicious lunch!! I usually bring my lunch everyday but when I don’t, thats where I head every time. Never disappoints. :)

Nerio - July 11, 2012

I really like the food very good ..

Tanvir - July 11, 2012

Fantastic food, not your usual food from a Halal cart. Few verities of tasty lunch boxes. You will love it once you try. The rice is better than any other food cart I had around union square. He prepares and serves his food with great passion. I see this man is going places …
This cart is located in front Bank of America at 19th and Park Ave South.

JR - July 11, 2012

I wrote the article. I just stopped by the cart on my way back from some errands and some info to add:
— his name is Tariq, not Eariq. My mistake, not NYSF’s.

— this cart has only been around for a month

— he is discontinuing the shrimp biryani but has some other shrimp dishes planned.

— he had eggplant today!

admin - July 11, 2012

We’ll make the changes. Thanks.

Ramon Wells - July 13, 2012

OMG!!! I’ve been eating at Tariq’s #1 Cart since it opened. My daily guilty pleasure. I eat there 3-4 times a week because he has such a varied menu: Fish (call ahead 347-757-2736 because it takes about 10 minutes to cook-to-order), Shrimp (today he had Biryani Shrimp), 3 kinds of Chicken, Lamb, Gyro, etc. But the best part is Tariq. He is such a nice man and his food is delicious, all of it. the spices linger after you eat his meals. I’m a fan!

Ramon Wells - July 13, 2012

OMG!!! I\’ve been eating at Tariq\’s #1 Cart since it opened. My daily guilty pleasure. I eat there 3-4 times a week because he has such a varied menu: Fish (call ahead 347-757-2736 because it takes about 10 minutes to cook-to-order), Shrimp (today he had Biryani Shrimp), 3 kinds of Chicken, Lamb, Gyro, etc. But the best part is Tariq. He is such a nice man and his food is delicious, all of it. the spices linger after you eat his meals. I\’m a fan!

Samantha - July 13, 2012

I went there once, and still go there till this day. Out of alot of halal food, this one is one of the best. The is always nice and never disregard a certain request. The price is better then most I see. That’s why i travel by train from 31st if i want this type of food. I recommend this place, service and food is worth the travel.

Tanvir - July 20, 2012

This guy never runs out of ideas… I just go there and ask him what to eat today?? And he does the rest. Every time it’s tastier than before… I don’t bring lunch from home anymore…. 

harvey - July 22, 2012

i must say the best tariq’s halal truck in new york,when i get in trouble with my wife all i have to do is bring home some chicken and rice with white sauce and bbq sauce with chopped up pita bread or the combo with chicken and lamb with the pita brad and everything is fine lol he’s the best trust me and try the food with chopped pita bread that goes from my duane readers too.great great great cant wait tell tomorrow mmmmm :)

Amanda - July 23, 2012

Hey I been wit this guy since day 1….I am his # 1 customer..My friends and I eat at his cart everyday for lunch…He knows exactly wat we want and how we want it…He is a very nice guy…I’m always excited to go to school just bcuz I know I get to eat my chicken gyro for lunch…HIS FOOD IS A MUST HAVE…See u 2morrow lol

Ramon Wells - July 26, 2012

I have to share another amazing experience at Tariq’s #1 Food Cart. Today I felt like having the Fish again, I heard Tariq tell someone in the past to text him or call him in advance as it takes approx. 10 minutes to cook. I texted him in advance: 347-757-2736. I know I’ve written about this before, but it is so exquisite that I have to write about it again. I am in ecstasy today. The spices are amazing and they linger in your mouth for quite a while after finishing eating.

I cannot rave about this food cart enough. Just simply AMAZING!

JR - July 27, 2012

Eating the shrimp vanya right now (fri special). Very tasty and moist with spices and cilantro and onions. Highly recommended!

Figgy - November 20, 2012

Tariq is so absolutely awesome! He is the super nicest guy and the food is the best of all the street carts I have had in the area. You have your standard Halal options of chicken, lamb, falafel, etc. However, he also has some Indian food options of Chicken Tikka (AMAZING!), chicken tikka masala, Biryani, in addition to some of the fish options. Absolutely amazing spot! Very popular as there are always people ordering, but he keeps the line moving very quickly. I highly recommend his truck not just for quality of food, but also quality of service as not only is he super nice, but he accommodated some Spanish customers the other day by speaking excellent Spanish as well which shocked me lol Buen provecho!

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