Times Square (West 40th Street and Seventh Avenue) from What Do New Yorkers Really Eat for Breakfast Slideshow

What Do New Yorkers Really Eat for Breakfast Slideshow

Sean Flynn

Times Square (West 40th Street and Seventh Avenue)

In the shadow of the center of the world, a breakfast cart on the corner of 40th Street and Seventh Avenue serves waves of customers who grab meals just steps from the busiest subway station in the city. Straphangers of the morning commute rushed on a swelteringly hot Tuesday last week between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. to grab their breakfasts. Most opted for liquid meals, with 46 customers ordering hot coffees. Surprisingly, only 18 indulged in an iced coffee even in the 92-degree heat. The cart offered the usual assortment of breakfast goods: bagels, egg sandwiches, muffins, and croissants. The egg sandwich was the most popular substantive breakfast for 36 New Yorkers, but most accompanied their meal with a coffee. Even truck drivers pulled over to stop for their quick fix.

"People like things small because it's quick," said David Davydov who works the cart every morning. "Most people get the coffee because it's fast."

In the heart of the city, most people didn't make much time for talk, just greeting the vendor with their order and a quick thanks before rushing off to corners of the city to start their day. — Sean Flynn

At a Glance:
Customers: 67
Hot Coffee: 46
Iced Coffee: 18
Tea: 6
Egg Sandwich: 36
Bagel: 24
Muffin: 6
Croissant: 6
Water: 10
Donut: 2
Lemon Loaf: 1

Sean Flynn

Union Square (East 15th and Broadway)

This coffee cart serves schools of morning commuters looking for a quick bite en route to the office. Between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., 96 people visited this cart. Customers' most popular orders were hot coffee, buttered bagels, and bagels with cream cheese. Despite the sweltering heat, only 19 customers opted for iced coffee and just six customers bought bottled water.

Hasmidullah Asadi, the vendor of the coffee cart, is familiar with most customers and has an ongoing rapport with some, often joking about the weather and addressing female customers as "sweetheart."

"On a normal day I sell coffee and bagels the most, followed by donuts," said Asadi.

Around 8:45 a.m., two women engaged in a verbal altercation while waiting in line to order. The disgruntled woman accused the other of cutting her in line, doling out insulting remarks and cursing under her breath. Eventually, the accuser stomped away with her order, discrediting any doubts about the bond between New Yorkers and their coffee. — Clare Sheehan

At A Glance:
Customers:
96
Hot Coffee: 52
Iced Coffee: 19
Tea: 2
Bagel: 32
Egg Sandwich: 2
Muffin: 9
Water: 6
Donut: 2
Orange Juice: 3

Sean Flynn

Tribeca (West Broadway and Chambers Street)

This coffee cart serves schools of morning commuters looking for a quick bite en route to the office. Between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., 96 people visited this cart. Customers' most popular orders were hot coffee, buttered bagels, and bagels with cream cheese. Despite the sweltering heat, only 19 customers opted for iced coffee and just six customers bought bottled water.

Hasmidullah Asadi, the vendor of the coffee cart, is familiar with most customers and has an ongoing rapport with some, often joking about the weather and addressing female customers as "sweetheart."

"On a normal day I sell coffee and bagels the most, followed by donuts," said Asadi.

Around 8:45 a.m., two women engaged in a verbal altercation while waiting in line to order. The disgruntled woman accused the other of cutting her in line, doling out insulting remarks and cursing under her breath. Eventually, the accuser stomped away with her order, discrediting any doubts about the bond between New Yorkers and their coffee. — Clare Sheehan

At A Glance:
Customers:
96
Hot Coffee: 52
Iced Coffee: 19
Tea: 2
Bagel: 32
Egg Sandwich: 2
Muffin: 9
Water: 6
Donut: 2
Orange Juice: 3

Sean Flynn

Midtown (West 53rd Street and Seventh Avenue)

For nearly 10 years, Raymond Isakov has operated a cart in Manhattan's Midtown neighborhood and he has the routine down to a tee — quick service, strong coffee, affordable prices, and above all else, a smile wide enough to brighten anyone's workday grind.

Situated by the entrance to the subway, Isakov's cart attracts a variety of characters from business people to tourists, construction workers to joggers, a UPS deliverywoman with her cart in tow, and even a cab driver who jumped out at a red light to grab a donut.

Isakov, who sets up at 2:00 a.m. for a constant flow of customers from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., guessed that coffee and a bagel with cream cheese are his customers most popular orders. That proved correct, with coffee far outpacing anything else, and bagels being the most popular food item by far. Still muffins and donuts also sold well. Isakov notices that New Yorkers are eating a lot less sugar for breakfast today than they did say, five years ago.

"They ask for Splenda instead of sugar, or plain or low-fat donuts instead of regular ones," said Isakov.

One regular who works at the hotel across the street, says that she comes because its good, cheap, and he's so friendly.

During a two-hour stint at the cart, Isakov said "the usual?" to customers upward of 40 times, and he addressed female patrons as "my darling", and males as "boss" or "chief".

One regular even apologized, "Sorry I didn't come by yesterday, I wasn't feeling well." It seems as though in Midtown people come for the service just as much for their coffee. — Zanny Allport

At a Glance:
Customers: 115
Hot Coffee:
54
Iced Coffee: 21
Tea: 1
Bagel: 19
Muffin: 8
Croissant: 7
Water: 3
Donut:
8
Hard-Boiled Eggs: 2
Bread Roll with Butter: 4

Sean Flynn

Upper East Side (E86th Street and Lexington Avenue)

Mohammad Tesfaye is an Ethiopian native who has been running a breakfast food stand on 86th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattans Upper East Side for 7 years and counting. He opens shop every morning right by the 4,5, and 6 trains in the midst of dense foot traffic, especially in the mornings. Tesfaye says he has many regular customers, but also sees countless new faces every single morning.

Tom Kleifoth, a regular at Mohammads breakfast cart, said that he is here almost every morning, because its "much quicker and cheaper than Starbucks."

A majority of customers come for the coffee, a handful for water and tea, and an unusual few request soda. In terms of baked goods, bagels and croissants were amongst the most popular foods selling 17 and 11 respectively.

When asked about his experience of running a breakfast cart, Tesfaye said, "I meet different people everyday and that keeps my business exciting." - Mona Mohseni

At A Glance:
Customers: 82
Hot Coffee: 48
Iced Coffee: 13
Tea: 10
Bagel: 17
Muffin: 9
Croissant: 11
Water: 6
Donut: 8
Lemon Loaf: 2
Soda: 3

Sean Flynn

Upper West Side (Amsterdam Avenue Between West 70th and West 71st Streets)

Evalyn Nercado has been working this cart on Manhattan's Upper West Side for almost two years, and has established a steady customer-base on her block. Even when there is a line, she works quickly enough to move it along.

"We see lots of students and teachers," said Nercado, "because of the surrounding middle and high schools."

She estimates that around 80 percent of her customers are regulars. More coffee was ordered than any other item on the menu by far, with nearly a third of customers placing their order in Spanish. The egg breakfast sandwiches were also very popular, but Nercado said that the cart is known for its bowtie pastry.

"That is what most people come for," said one regular, a social worker who gets her morning coffee from the cart. She said she keeps coming back because it's cheaper, the coffee's good, and they're pleasant people. — Zanny Allport

At a Glance:
Customers: 99
Hot Coffee: 47
Iced Coffee: 17
Tea: 1
Bagel: 11
Egg Sandwich: 18
Muffin:
7
Croissant: 8
Water: 4
Donut: 17
Lemon Loaf: 2
Soda: 3
Orange Juice:
3

Sean Flynn

Chinatown (16 Bowery Street)

Breakfast carts are few and far between in Manhattan's Chinatown. Instead of hitting the streets for breakfast fare, many hungry New Yorkers headed to coffee shops and cafés instead.

The variety of food options seems to differ from any other neighborhood. Breakfast seekers feasted on coconut cream buns, pineapple rolls, and congee (a porridge-like Chinese delicacy) in addition to a variety of other unfamiliar breakfast delicacies. Patrons for the most part opted to sit in instead of grab their meals to go, sitting together mostly in anonymous groups of four.

"Most people comes because it's fast and convenient," said Richard Zhao, 24, a regular at Golden Manna Bakery on Bowery Street between between Pell and Doyers Street. "It's a taste of home; of China for many."

Hot coffee was the most popular sell at the Golden Manna Bakery with 42 sales but 25 New Yorkers grabbed a bowl of congee to start their day. Most patrons opted to sit inside, but because it was so early in the morning, little conversation took place. Pineapple buns were also popular with 18 sold and five pork buns were picked up by hungry residents. — Ryan Cousin

At a Glance:
Customers: 70
Hot Coffee: 42
Almond Roll: 6
Pineapple Bun: 18
Sesame Ball: 4
Coconut Cream Bun:
3
Pork Bun: 5
Bacon Scallion Bun: 1
Raisin Bun: 11
Fried Dumpling: 10
Congee: 25

Sean Flynn

SoHo (Broadway and Prince Street)

The streets of SoHo come alive in the morning as people rush around ducking into doorways and heading down the steps to grab their trains. Food trucks and carts dot the neighborhood serving a variety of options from waffles to ice cream and gyro to bagels.

The breakfast cart which sits at the cross street of Broadway and Prince Street, was one of the busiest in the area. Customers waited in line to get their orders before rushing off to start their day.

"9 a.m. is my busiest time," said Rasheed El Jazouli, the vender who worked the cart. "Coffee is my best-seller."

The variety at the SoHo cart was limited. Bagels were the most popular substantive breakfast for 21 customers and 12 other patrons ordered croissants. For the duration of my time at the stand last Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., the line remained constant, as steady streams of customers got their meals and headed off. — Ryan Cousin

At a Glance:
Customers: 70
Hot Coffee: 51
Iced Coffee:
12
Bagel:
21
Muffin: 11
Croissant: 12

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What Do New Yorkers Really Eat for Breakfast Slideshow