In New York City street food is a part of the daily routine for millions of locals. It’s what keeps the city running, and with such great variety street food vendors have also become a point of attraction for tourists.
In this article we’ll chat about the best street food in New York City, considering everything from history to flavor and everything in between. If you don’t have an appetite now you will by the end of this post, so let’s dive in!
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Best Street Food in New York City
Tacos El Bronco
In a city full of $5 tacos, Tacos El Bronco is a bargain at $3 a pop. However don’t assume the low price tag means a dip in quality; the veal head, tongue and tripe are all cooked to a tender, juicy consistency.
If the traditional meats are out of your comfort zone they also sell more common al pastor, birria and carne asada options. My only gripe is I wish they gave you more meat (but the mouthwatering grilled onions make up for it).
The food truck had so much success they’ve opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant about 10 minutes away. The restaurant has a bigger menu, but the food truck is home to some of the best street food in New York City.
Address: 860 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11232 (food truck) & 4324 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11232 (restaurant)
Adel’s Famous Halal Food
Full disclosure: you’ll likely be waiting in line for more than an hour try to Adel’s Famous Halal Food. Even then I never debated taking it off the list, it’s just that good.
Across the street from Radio City Music Hall, the cart has a no-frills Middle Eastern menu. The most popular (and viral) dish is the combo platter, which comes with heaps of chicken and lamb over a generous bed of rice.
If I had to nitpick I would wish Adel’s Famous Halal Food opened earlier (they open at 6PM). On the flip side, it’s open until 4 or 5AM every night so it’s a great New York City street food destination after a night out.
Address: 1221 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020 (check their Instagram for updates on locations)
Those in tune with the happenings of the internet are likely familiar with the famous bodega chopped cheese. It’s a hamburger patty, cheese, onion, peppers and seasoning all chopped and scrambled together, served on a hoagie.
Locals always claimed their local bodegas had the best chopped cheese, but Bodega Truck has changed the game. They’ve introduced one of the most beloved street foods in New York City and put it on wheels.
The best part is the food truck actually drives all over the city, instead of being in one neighborhood daily. Check the online truck tracker to see what day they’ll be closest to you.
Cheong Fun Cart
Chinatown is home to countless tempting street food options, but Cheong Fun Cart manages to stand head and shoulder above the rest. The cart is run by a sweet lady who makes tantalizing rice noodle rolls.
You can get them stuffed with chicken, pork, shrimp, and beef and always order extra sauce. Best of all, most large options will only cost $3, and none surpass the $6 mark!
I should also mention Cheong Fun Cart sells out almost daily, and is usually closed by noon. Swing by an ATM (they’re cash only!) and get there early to avoid missing out on some of the best street food in New York City.
Address: 159 Hester St, New York, NY 10013
Canaima Food Truck
If you’ve never heard of a cachapa, allow me to make the introduction. It’s a Venezuelan dish that’s a blend between an arepa and quesadilla, made with a fluffy tortilla-like wrap and filled with meat and cheese.
The Venezuelan street food has slowly been gaining traction in New York City, and Canaima Food Truck makes some of the best. Canaima also sells empanadas, tequeños, arepas, and a plantain sandwich called a patacon.
You’ll find the truck in Williamsburg, where on the weekends it’s open until 4AM. The neighborhood is full of bars and breweries, and who doesn’t love a tipsy late-night bite?
Address: 258 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249
Few food carts in New York City are as famous as NY Dosas. There’s been countless news articles and YouTube videos (with millions of views, might I add) that have made the small Indian food cart a hot commodity.
The constant lines are full of both locals and tourists eager to try Thiru Kumar’s (AKA the Dosa Man) dosas. The popular South Indian treat is like a crepe, but made out of black lentils and rice.
NY Dosas is also one of the best street foods in New York City for vegans, since the entire menu is plant-based. If you pop by for just an appetizer you can order samosas and vegan drumsticks without having to wait in line.
Address: 50 Washington Square S, New York, NY 10012
Local’s tip: Don’t be afraid to chat with the Dosa Man, he’s a sweetheart. He’ll even stop take photos with you.
Jamrock Jerk is the first food truck to (legally) have grills and smokers, so you already know the flavors are going to be off the charts. The ability to cook fresh jerk chicken shouldn’t be understated, you’re getting it hot off the grill!
Don’t forget to order a side of rice and peas or the fried plantains. If you’ve never tried oxtail Jamrock Jerk is one of the best spots for an introduction, it’s part of the full street food experience in New York City.
They’ll often be in high-traffic areas like Midtown and FiDi, but check the official website for upcoming locations.
Home Made Cooking Cafe
With so many ethnic enclaves in New York City you can literally bounce around and savor the world. In Brighton Beach there’s a large Russian community that brings Eastern European street food to New York City.
Outside of the Home Made Cooking Cafe there’s often a vendor behind a table brimming with grab-and-go treats. The piroshkis are top-notch and inexpensive (last time I was there they cost $2!).
Address: 504 Brighton Beach Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235
It seems like just yesterday that birria took the internet by storm, now the tender meat dish is found at most Mexican food carts in New York City. However, there is one joint that deserves a spotlight: Birria-Landia.
What started as a lone outpost in Queens has quickly expanded to a total of three. The original remains in Jackson Heights, a second food truck is in Williamsburg and the most recent location in the Lower East Side and they all provide some of the best street food in New York City.
Address: 77-99 Roosevelt Ave, Queens | 491 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn | Bowery & E Houston St, New York, NY
Tony Dragon’s Grille
If you can’t afford a flight to Mykonos there’s no need to fret, Tony Dragon’s Grille brings Greek flavor to you. The food cart has been in business for nearly 40 years, weaving itself into the fabric of the Upper East Side.
Since the food truck is so close to Central Park it’s become tradition for folks to grab a souvlaki, salad, or burger and enjoy it in the park. If you order online you can skip the line and just grab and go.
By using free range chicken, USDA choice steak, and wild caught salmon Tony Dragon’s Grille makes plates that are fresh and flavorful. Just because it’s NYC street food doesn’t mean they sacrifice quality, and I tip my hat to that!
Address: Madison Ave &, E 62nd St, New York, NY 10065
The Halal Guys
The Halal Guys has been bringing New Yorkers together since 1990. Where else can a Wall Street executive, broke college kid and drunk party-goer all come together to break bread?
The menu consists of platters and sandwiches that are served around beef, chicken, and falafel. The Egyptian food chain has six brick-and-mortar restaurants across the New York City, and countless street vendors.
Local’s tip: Adel’s Famous Halal Food (which we talked about earlier) has infamous lines. If you hate waiting, walk to the Halal Guys cart that’s three blocks north for quicker and comparable New York City street food.
Billy’s Hot Dog Cart
With so many food vendors in Central Park it’s easy to assume they’re all the same. I’ll let you know in on a local secret: Billy’s Hot Dog Cart on Central Park West and West 93rd Street is worth going out of the way for.
Billy’s customer service is among the best you’ll find anywhere in Manhattan, and the hot dogs are tasty and fairly priced. Don’t forget to ask for onion sauce before taking off to park yourself on a bench in Central Park.
Fun fact: At the time of writing Billy’s Hot Dog Cart is the most highly reviewed street food in New York City. The beloved food vendor has earned his perfect 5 star rating on Google (with nearly 1,000 reviews!).
Address: 327 Central Park West #63, New York, NY 10025
Anyone who’s worked or lived in East Midtown will likely be familiar with Uncle Gussy’s, one of the oldest food trucks in New York City. They opened in 1971 and have remained a family business, serving traditional Greek fare.
The menu is brimming Greek salads, pitas and platters and fair warning: they’re generous servings. I should also mention Uncle Gussy’s, like a lot of the best street food in New York City, is cash-only unless you order online.
Address: 345 Park Ave, New York, NY 10154
Momos are a type of steamed dumpling that originated in Tibet. Small and easy to chow down quickly, they’re the perfect New York City street food for those who are always on the go.
Each plate comes with eight momos and they’re available in chicken, beef, and veggie options. And fair warning to all my fellow spicy food lovers, the hot sauce at Mom’s Momo is deceptively spicy so don’t get carried away!
Address: 72-30 Broadway, Jackson Heights, NY 11372
I’m lucky enough to live a few blocks from Gray’s Papaya, a fixture of New York’s famed hot-dog scene. This corner joint was one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorites in NYC and has been featured countless times on the big screen.
Gray’s Papaya has is not only one of the best street foods in New York City, it’s one of the best cheap eats. Hot dogs are $2.95 and they have a recession special that includes 2 franks and a drink for $6.95
Address: 2090 Broadway, New York, NY 10023
Best Street Food in New York City (Tips)
The Big Apple practically runs on Apple Pay and credit cards, but the street food scene in New York City is slower to catch on. Most places will take contactless payments, but try to carry some cash just in case (or for tips!).
Check Prices Before Ordering
All the joints I recommend in this article are reputable, but some street food vendors in New York City might try to lure you into a tourist trap. In touristy areas vendors will (sometimes) not list any prices on their menu.
Then they’ll charge you an exorbitant price for something small like a hot-dog, assuming most folks are non-confrontational and will just pay it. If you don’t see prices, ask how much it’ll cost before ordering.
Chat with the Vendors
Most of the vendors put some serious heart into their work, and who doesn’t love talking about their passions? Street food in New York City is often defined by communities, so get the full experience by being present and conversing with the vendors. Worst case they’re not big on small talk, but you don’t lose anything by trying.
Best Street Food in NYC (Post Summary)
- Tacos El Bronco
- Adel’s Famous Halal Food
- Bodega Truck
- Cheong Fun Cart
- Canaima Food Truck
- NY Dosas
- Jamrock Jerk
- Home Made Cooking Cafe
- Tony Dragon’s Grille
- The Halal Guys
- Billy’s Hot Dog Cart
- Uncle Gussy’s
- Mom’s Momo
- Gray’s Papaya
New York City Street Food (Map)
And there you have it my friends! My roundup of the best street food in New York City. Happy hunting, try not to overeat. 😉