12 Famous Street Food Vendors You Need To Visit In NYC

You could spend thousands traveling to taste different fare from places around the world. Or you could just spend a day in New York City. And don't worry about making reservations or paying for pricey dining-in service. NYC offers culturally diverse cuisine in the casual setting of a street corner. Skip the fine dining experiences — NYC's food trucks and carts might be quick and cheap, but they serve some of the best meals in the city.

Whether it's a taste of Ireland or Bangladesh, the Big Apple has got you covered. There are many vendors to choose from. The general worry when it comes to street food is that your experience could range from a 5-star rating to food poisoning. Thankfully, when it comes to food trucks, New York City has some of the finest, and if you stick with our recommendations you won't need to worry about safety. These are the kind of outfits that offer award-winning bites that will have you coming back for more, but without the Michelin-rated prices. And you can take it to go!

So, if you're heading to the City That Never Sleeps, you'll want to make sure that you don't sleep on these famous street food vendors. 

1. The Bodega Truck

The only thing that says NYC besides a hot slice, is a chopped cheese. Bronx-born Jermey Batista brings them out of bodega and into the streets with The Bodega Truck. NY1 reports that Batista bought his truck a week before the pandemic started and had to put his dreams on hold for a whole year before gracing New York City with immaculate chopped cheeses and fries. But when he finally did, his business blew up.

Batista's menu includes a classic called "The O.G." and over-the-top gourmet chopped cheeses like The Down the Block with chopped meat and mozzarella, onion rings, BBQ Sauce, and bacon. You can sub beef for poultry with the Regular Shmegular that includes chopped chicken and mozzarella with chipotle mayo, tomato, and lettuce. The Good Mawning is a breakfast option that adds a hash brown and a fried egg to the O.G. The Adobo Fries are seasoned to perfection and the curly fries have a crisp crunch. You can also get a side of onion rings or Mozzy Sticks. "I got El Dominicano and oh my god, love at first bite,” one Yelper wrote on its 4.5-star page.

The bodega-style decor is the only thing we love as much as the cheesy strings that form when we pull these monsters apart. The tagged-up truck has a hanging pair of sneakers, a snoozing kitty cat, and a can of Cafe Bustelo on the counter. Catch The Bodega Truck "in a borough near you" by following its Instagram.

2. Makina Cafe

Eden Egziabher left her war-torn home behind to create a space where Eritreans and Ethiopians could peacefully co-exist. Makina Cafe infuses both cultures' flavors in its "Habesha" cuisine, a word that removes delineation between the two tribes. Egziabher also has Italian influences and chose the word "Makina” because it means truck in all three languages.

The beauty of this unity is reflected in bites of Makina Cafe's lentil or beef sambusas or siga wot beef stew over yellow rice. This food truck allows customers to pick a base of rice or a thin sourdough flatbread called injera. Your protein choice goes on top of that and can include options of beef, chicken, or vegetables that are slow-cooked with divine spices and herbs. Veggie choices can include tikel gomen, ater kik, or beet salad. Next, toss on a spicy or mild sauce of lemon and olive oil, awaze, or the Makina Sauce. If you're thirsty you can imbibe in an Ethiopian coffee or Dona spiced soda.

"Literally the best Ethiopian/Eritrean food I have had in NY and I consider myself a connoisseur," wrote a fan on Facebook. Its truck can be found around places like Metro Hospital or Columbia University and its schedule can be found online. You can also rent its truck or have Makina Cafe cater your next event. Pick-up and delivery are also available at their Queens kitchen at 3647 30th Street in Long Island City.

3. NY Dosas

This one-man dosa show is run by Thiru Kumar, AKA "The Dosa Man." You'll find the NY Dosas cart at West 4th Street and Sullivan Street in Washington Square Park South where Kumar has been serving his vegan and gluten-free rice and lentil-filled South Indian crepes since 2002. The 2007 Vendy Award-winning street food spot only uses ingredients that were "hand-picked freshly made with love and passion."

Kumar, who hails from Sri Lanka, said he was pleased to bring healthy street food to New York City as an alternative to your standard street meat, like hot dogs. He says his cart is the "first vegan dosa cart in the world." In addition to dosas and uttapam filled with potatoes and veggies, NY Dosas also offers dishes of steamed lentil patties, spicy noodles, and herbed pancakes with different types of chutney and/or salad. All lunch items come with a side of coconut chutney and a cup of lentil and vegetable soup, known as sambar. Snack options include samosas and vegan drumsticks.

People from all over the country have raved about NY Dosas, which has a 4.5-star rating on Yelp. "One of the best street foods I have ever had. He also treats every customer and order individually with great diligence," said a Yelper from Los Angeles. Yelpers report that the line for NY Dosas can be pretty lengthy. Its website recommends calling ahead for the lunch dishes at (917) 710-2092.

4. Red Hook Lobster Pound

The Red Hook Lobster Pound offers a taste of Maine right in New York City. Husband and wife duo Ralph Gorham and Susan Povich opened their first location in 2009 and now have several including appearances at markets like Smorgasburg. Their food truck, "Big Red" started strolling city streets in 2011 serving buttery lobster roll deliciousness, and was named by Daily Meal as the "Best Food Truck in America" in June 2013 out of 101 others.

The Red Hook Lobster Pound's menus vary at different locations but will always include its artisanal lobster rolls served on buttery New England top split buns. The rolls are toasted to perfection and topped with fat chunks of fresh Maine lobster. The Classic includes mayo and a hint of paprika with a sprinkling of scallions, while The BLT serves up a kick with its chipotle mayo along with some applewood smoked bacon.

If you're looking for something a little bit lighter, The Tuscan tosses lobsters with a basil vinaigrette. If you want something heavier, go for the Lobster Grilled Cheese. Ask for it BLT-style for a guaranteed one-way ticket to Heaven. "Their lobster is the best I've ever had! It beats any Maine lobster when I was in Maine. I dream about a warm lobster sandwich on the daily," wrote a Yelper from Connecticut. The Red Hook Lobster Pound also offers a Chilled Shrimp Roll topped with lemon aioli and Homemade Old Bay Potato Chips.

5. Tong

Naeem Khandaker was determined to bring the flavors of his heritage to New York City. The result was Tong, which claims to be America's first authentic Bangladeshi street food cart. While Queens had its fair share of authentic Bangladeshi restaurants, no one was selling street food. Khandaker saw an untapped market and went in with a cart in Jackson Heights. Now there are several throughout Queens and the Bronx, as well as a brick-and-mortar in Jamaica.

Tong is famous for its fuchka, a crisp hollow semolina shell filled with chickpea, onions, green chili, yellow peas, potato, cilantro, spices, and grated hard-boiled egg over the top. It comes with a tamarind water dipping sauce for a spicy and sweet crunch mouth explosion. "Unbelievable fuchka — haven't had fuchka this good in a long time. Definitely rivals the best fuchka in Bangladesh," a customer wrote on Facebook

At Tong, you'll also delight in dishes like mango or guava masala and jhal muri, which is a puffed rice dish with muri masala, green chilies, coriander leaves, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and pickled mustard oil.

6. Diso's Italian Sandwich Society

This elite hero joint aims to stay true to New York City's beloved "old school" delis. Adam DiSilvestro was determined to garner the same respect as these "go-to" neighborhood shops with its upscale versions of classic Italian subs. Diso's Italian Sandwich Society has two trucks roaming serving sandwiches that will make you sing. They come in three sizes: rustica, ciabatta, or focaccia bread.

Diso's Italian Sandwich Society's combination of pairings of meat and garnishes along with gourmet touches like ricotta spread, fresh basil, and shaved parmesan reggiano are the chef's kiss. The menu includes sandwiches like the Jimmy Two Times, with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, sweet roasted peppers, herbed ricotta spread, and sautéed eggplant, and Oh Marie with Sicilian eggplant parmigiano, homemade tomato sauce, basil, fresh mozzarella, and parmesan shavings. "The Fonz is one of the best sandwiches I've ever had the ricotta spread is super delicious. And their passion to make every sandwich perfect and delicious," a customer wrote on Facebook.

We'd go to this spot for the sandwich names alone with the Vinny Chins, Tommy the Wig, Fat Pete, Skinny Dom, and Jackie Nose that sound straight out of "The Sopranos." And in true Italian fashion, there's more than one Joey listed on the menu. Diso's Italian Sandwich Society was also featured on Season 6 of Food Network's "The Great Food Truck Race." Truck locations are posted on Diso's Italian's website.

7. Birria-Landia

Birria-Landia is one of the first to bring the birria taco trend to NYC and was praised by the New York Times as having "changed the taco landscape." Brothers José and Jesús Moreno, who are originally from Puebla, Mexico, introduced their food truck in Queens in 2019 where it quickly caught the attention of the local food scene. Now, these dunkable delights are also available at locations on the Lower East Side, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.

Birria-Landia does birria Tijuana-style by slow-cooking a mix of top round, shank, and brisket for five hours a day in adobo. You can order it on a 4-inch corn tortilla season with cilantro, onion, and sauce. The tostada is the same size but gets a sprinkling of cheese. The mulita comes with two tortillas filled with the same ingredients as a tostada but with added melted mozzarella. Dipping consomé comes in large and small sizes.

Birria-Landia has a 4.5-star rating on Yelp. One customer said they drove 15 hours just to get a taste of its beef stew-soaked tacos and said that "These were, without a shadow of a doubt, the absolute best tacos I've ever eaten in my life. And, I've eaten a lot!"

8. Wafels & Dinges

This award-winning mobile dessert vendor boasts high-profile catering clients like Deloitte, Barney's NY, and Law & Order SVU. Wafels & Dinges claims that its founder, Thomas DeGeest, was knighted "Special Envoy for Wafels" by King Albert II of Belgium who tasked him in the summer of 2007 with making sure no waffle would ever go soggy or uninspired in America. DeGeest and his partner Rossanna Figuera started Wafels & Dinges with a food truck and now have kiosks and storefronts in New York, Colorado, and Michigan. They even offer international shipping.

The key to these Liège waffles is the pearl sugar they're made with, which pops when cooked to create a crisp caramelized finish. Wafels & Dinges come smothered in dulce de leche, speculoos, hazelnut fudge, a swizzle of chocolate syrup, artisanal ice cream, and other toppings. You can build your own waffle or choose one from their list. Menu items include the Bourbon Maple & Bacon that comes topped with barrel-aged maple syrup and candied bacon or the WMD (Wafel of Massive Deliciousness) with bananas, strawberries, chocolate fudge, and whipped cream.

Wafels and Dinges has offered seasonal options like its Ricotta and Honey and savory options like Chicken n' Gravy. They also make a mean Belgium hot cocoa and thick indulgent milkshakes. The food truck was the 2019 Vendy Award Winner and was also named the 13th Best Food Truck in America by Daily Meal.

9. 2 Girls & a Cookshop

Mother-daughter duo, Shelly and Jataun Flash, serve up Jamaican tacos and blended culture street food that creates a buzz wherever they go. You'll find them at markets like Smorgasburg or events like the Food Network's New York City Wine and Food Festival where they won first place for "Best Taco." The Flashs want every bite you take of their food to "dance in your mouth." And according to 2 Girls & a Cookshop's 4.5-star Yelp rating, they have succeeded.

"A true gem! Jamaican-inspired tacos and street food I never knew I needed in my life! Not only is the food amazing and consistent, but the employees are so personable and loving. You taste the love in every bite! I'm a lifelong customer," a reviewer wrote on Yelp.

2 Girls & a Cookshop has something for everyone on its menu and always has new offerings. A recent pop-up menu included the Jerk Chicken Dinner Taco with another vegan version, along with an absolutely brilliant Chop Cheese Taco and an Escovitch Fish Taco. They also chef-up loaded nachos. You'll want to come for the food and stay for the vibes. You can find out where they are popping up next and when their Brooklyn location reopens by following them on Instagram.

10. The Chipper Truck

This Bronx-based truck offers up authentic Irish-American fare for the ultimate post-night-out snack. The Chipper Food Truck has been going strong for 19 years and is perfectly parked outside a strip of bars on Katonah Avenue in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx, waiting to fulfill late-night drunken munchie fantasies. It was opened by Alice O'Brien, who hails from Ireland, and her husband Val, who she met while working in Irish restaurants in the area, which is home to many Irish immigrants. One thing the area was missing was an authentic Irish chipper. So, they converted an ice cream truck and started their own in 2004.

The Chipper Food Truck's biggest seller is its Taco Chips, a popular fast food dish in Ireland that consists of fries topped with ground beef, cheddar cheese, and a mayo and ketchup-based sauce — a popular Irish condiment known as "Pink Sauce." Customers also love The Chipper Food Truck's Irish curry over chicken or fries. Our favorite is the Garlic Mayo Chips with cheese, which are fries smothered in garlic mayo.

They now also have a cafe in Yonkers which is open 24-7. It's a neighborhood favorite with over-the-top sandwiches named after its most loyal customers and a massive diner-like menu of breakfasts, pasta, burgers, salads, and more.

11. The Halal Guys

If you're in the mood for some street cart falafel but don't want to mess with a disreputable vendor, then head over to The Halal Guys. This food truck's American Halal Food is served in carts all over New York City. It started as a hot dog cart by Hesham Hegazy who turned it into a halal operation to appeal to Muslim cab drivers. It's the first halal cart to be trademarked. It became a chain in 2014 and now has franchise locations all over the country.

This cart has all your favorites: Platters of sandwiches filled with rice, naan, tomato, lettuce, and beef, chicken, or falafel. You also have the option of a side of baba ghanoush, baklava, fries, chocolate chip cookies, or hummus. The difference between this halal truck and others you'll find on a street corner is quality and consistency.

"This is the real deal and worth waiting in line for. It's better than most restaurant food. All the ingredients are fresh, hot, perfectly cooked, and perfectly seasoned. Sauces are so good! And the prices are a bargain for the quality and quantity of food you're getting," one customer wrote on Yelp. Speaking of sauces, The Halal Guys have its own packets of white sauce, which we are obsessed with.

12. Mysttik Masaala

Mysttik Masaala offers a nourishing meal on the go that you can feel good about. Its food carts and kiosks offer "magical Indian Food" with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options that are changed daily. You can typically find traditional rice chicken bowl dishes like tikka masala, saag, and vindaloo. You can also get your chicken in a kebab form over rice or in a wrap. Vegans and vegetarians have several rice bowl options like chana saag or palak paneer. Our favorites have to be the naan wraps, which come in chicken and vegan options, and its appetizers. The batata vadas are customer favorites along with its samosas.

"I've been searching for a proper samosa all over Manhattan and I FINALLY found one! Their vindaloo is spicy without being overpowering, the chicken is tender and fresh, and the pilau rice is PERFECT! Now, if they would only add a peshwari naan to the menu I would be in heaven! Best Indian I've had here since moving from the UK," one customer wrote on Yelp.