Posted by: Jeffsayyes | April 22, 2013

Halalathon 2012: Jackson Heights

You can find the winner of the 2012 Halalathon – The TD Bank Cart – at 73rd St, just south of 37th St. It doesn’t actually have this name, but we are just calling it this because it is located in front of the TD Bank.

They just had it levels above the rest. I never realized the depth of Halal food until our crew did the observations. I never respected it as a “cuisine“. Here, at our trials, we tried every Halal food place within a 1-mile radius of the 74th Street station and this TD Bank cart took the top honors.

At the presentation, I called some press for the presentation. It is, after all, a big deal…

I was so happy to get some print publications there to make it a real ‘Event‘. It was great to have these guys who wouldn’t normally think what they do is special, get some attention for what they do.

And now I have respect for the cuisine. Now, I take all of my non-local walking tours here – and they ALL love it. It’s amazing. Here, I always took Halal food for granted, but it’s apparently quite an interesting cuisine in itself – albeit narrow.

Here is the article on the event:
DNAinfo: Halalathon Champion Bests Vendy Winner for Best Halal in Jackson Heights

And here is Rachel Antonio’s impression of the event:
Spam is Better Fried: Part 1 Review

The secret ingredient we found out to be Shan Zafrani Garam Masala


With the brick and mortardom of Gyro King (74-06 37th Rd), it became imperative to do a Halal cart round-up of the area. I previously shunned it, thought the food was a lesser level of eating… an easy pickup for a foodie. We did the analysis of every Halal combo plate vendor within a mile of the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue station. Here is what we found:

Halal Food, north side of TD Bank, 37th ave/74th St

The Original American Chicken (78-07 37th Ave) was decidedly the worst. I don’t even like to say that because I’ve been more relentless about them more than I like, and I’d love to have a redeeming cause, but it was clear — the worst. HOWEVER, they had some great chicken decorations!

American Chicken, worst

Gyro King had the most interesting side salad by far, with a nearly uncountable number of pickled vegetables, giving a very interesting overall mouth feel to the dish. The other ingredients were good, though didn’t have an extra level that the top tier Halal carts possessed.

Gyro King, 74-06 37th Rd

The pick of the majority of us, and 2nd place to the few who thought Sammy’s reigned king, was the TD Bank cart. It just had the right balance, and an extra layer of flavoring that hasn’t been fathomed in the other carts.

TD Bank Cart, west side of 74th street/37th Ave

Sammy’s was one of two carts to refuse to put sauce on the side. We’re not sure if this confused the experiment, because it definitely had a different feel than the rest. It was, as expected, really good.

Sammy’s, northeast corner of Broadway/73rd St

America’s #1 Halal Food (73rd / Broadway)

82nd St/37th Ave SW

Sammy’s and the Other Sammy’s (Broadway/73rd St SW)

PBS Cart (outside Elmhurst Hospital on Broadway) – Quite good

83rd/Roosevelt NE – pretty good

82nd St/Baxter SW Moroccan cart

and here’s the winner – TD Bank Cart. Proof:


  1. Hey Jeffrey!
    I don’t know if you remember me, but we met by chance last year at one of the food festivals you organized near Dunningham Triangle. You gave me your card. I’ve since moved out of the JH area, but I gotta get you to try my man Mustafa in Elmhurst. He’s on the corner of Broadway and Elmhurst Av, next to La Gata Galosa. Not sure if he’s still there nowadays, but I’ve tried many, many halal carts… and he is by far the absolute best. Get the combo over rice, white and hot sauce. You should definitely add him to the running!

    • Okay, I will look out for him. I wonder if he can compete….

  2. This Halal street meat game ain’t checkers, it’s chess.

  3. hi, i wanted to clarify that halal food in and of itself is not a cuisine, it is a specific method of butchering an animal which is classified as edible in islam.
    i find it quite interesting and amusing that more and more non muslims have started calling a specific kind of cuisine halal:)
    ps: what are your thoughts on the new halal dumpling house in jackson heights if you have been there?

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