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New York’s Most Popular Food Cart is Egyptian

July 10, 2024

New York City is renowned for its diverse and vibrant street food scene, but few carts have captured the hearts and appetites of locals and tourists alike quite like the Egyptian-owned Adel’s Famous Halal Food.

Located at the bustling intersection of 1221 6th Avenue and West 49th Street, this food cart is more than just a meal—it’s an experience.

A visit to Adel’s on a summer day

Food prep at Adel’s Halal Food. Credit: Mohamed Khairat / Egyptian Streets

As the work day ends and the city lights flicker to life, Adel’s Famous Halal Food springs into action. From 6 PM until 4 AM each day, the cart serves up mouth-watering dishes to hundreds, if not thousands, of eager patrons.

The aroma of sizzling meats and spices fills the air, blending with the sounds of honking taxis and distant chatter. The line of hungry customers stretches down and around the block, a testament to the cart’s popularity – some say it is the most popular cart in New York City.

The team at Adel’s Halal Food are easily identifiable by their orange t-shirts. Credit: Mohamed Khairat / Egyptian Streets

Visiting Adel’s in June, I joined the throng of people waiting patiently for their turn. The wait, which lasted about 40 minutes at opening time, was filled with anticipation – I had heard extensively how Adel’s was ‘the best’ halal food cart in New York City and I was keen to put that to the test.

As I stood in line, the owner, an Egyptian-American, moved through the crowd at the front, chatting and offering smiles while at times also taking and handing out orders. His presence added a personal touch to the bustling scene.

People waiting in line at Adel’s Famous Halal Food. Credit: Mohamed Khairat / Egyptian Streets

The line at Adel’s is a melting pot of people from all walks of life. Couples, families, and solo adventurers, both locals and tourists, all come together for a taste of Adel’s famous halal food.

The diversity in the line reflects the cultural mosaic of New York City itself. Conversations in various languages, ranging from English and Spanish to Arabic and Korean, can be overheard, adding to the rich, multicultural atmosphere.

Food prep at Adel’s Halal Food. Credit: Mohamed Khairat / Egyptian Streets

Once I made it to the front of the line, I did not need much time to  think about what to order. The menu is simple and straightforward: lamb on rice, chicken on rice, or the recommended lamb-and-chicken combo platter. For just $USD 9.92 (EGP 476) (by card), the combo platter includes generous portions of both meats, rice, pita, and two sauces (chili and garlic yogurt).

Lamb and chicken combo platter from Adel’s Famous Halal Food. Credit: Mohamed Khairat / Egyptian Streets

The chicken, tender and flavorful, is the standout, as evidenced by its popularity among customers. The lamb, though well-seasoned, could benefit from being cut into smaller pieces. The spicy rice, an option that is available, adds a delightful kick to the meal. Together, the platter is a harmonious blend of textures and flavors, perfect for a cold day or as a hearty meal. It’s filling enough for one person but also makes for a great shared experience.

Is Adel’s Halal Food worth the wait?

While Adel’s might remind some of The Halal Guys—another famous Egyptian-owned cart—it’s clear, from its popularity, that Adel’s has carved out its own loyal following. The wait can be long—up to an hour according to Google reviews—which is a testament to the cart’s popularity.

Part of the line at Adel’s Famous Halal Food. Credit: Mohamed Khairat / Egyptian Streets

For locals who have tried similar fare, such as the Halal Guys, the experience might not warrant the wait. While the platter was flavorsome, it is not mind-blowing enough for you to stand in a line for an hour.  However, for first-timers and visitors to Manhattan, Adel’s offers a delightful and memorable taste of NYC-style halal street food; Adel’s is a great spot for anyone wanting to experience New York City’s halal cart scene at its best.

In the ever-competitive world of Manhattan food carts, Adel’s Famous Halal Food stands out not just for its delicious offerings but also for the warmth and hospitality of its team. As you walk around Manhattan, the sounds of Egyptian Arabic and the scent of sizzling meat remind you that sometimes, the best meals come from the humblest of kitchens.

Want to visit Adel’s Famous Halal Food? Click here for the Google Map link.

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