Friday, August 19, 2011

Urban Oyster Food Cart Tour

I promised myself that after I finished my summer fellowship and had some free time during the week, I would take Urban Oyster’s Food Cart Walking Tour.  And I keep my promises, especially to myself.

The Midtown tours take place on Fridays from 2-4pm, when the food carts are out but the lunch rush is over (note:  our tour ran a little late, so don’t make any plans for immediately after.)  The tickets are $40 and you get 6 food cart tastings, 5 savory and 1 sweet (yes, they found a sweet food cart to hit up!)

This tour was ideal for me because I usually shy away from street food.  I’ve been told it is unsanitary, or low quality, or just plain bad.  But I knew there was a world of culinary talent on the streets that was just waiting to be explored—I could literally smell it when I walk down the street.

I don’t want to give away the stops on this tour, but I will say that Urban Oyster picked an excellent variety.  We had Pakistani food, falafel, Korean…if you’re a small eater like me, you’ll want to bring some tin foil to bring home leftovers.  Don’t be shy.

The cart owners had pedigrees:  two have been featured on Throwdown, and one has been in operation for 20 years.  My tour guide was a knowledgeable foodie, and I learned a lot about the history of street food in New York and how the carts operate today.  Interestingly, the tour doesn’t feature any food trucks, partly because it is difficult for trucks to park in Midtown.  I also suspect it’s because their schedules are less reliable and they are difficult to coordinate with for a tour.

My favorite dish of the tour:  chicken with rice, yogurt, and tamarind sauce at Trini Paki Boys in Midtown.

Many of the other tour participants had been on Urban Oyster tours before.  I want to check out the Tribeca food cart tour next—although now I’ll have to wait for a free Wednesday afternoon. 

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