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Vegetarian Ventures: Middle Eastern Cuisine Edition

By Sam D'Amico

You are walking through New York City and about to depart home after work, a sporting event, or perhaps a concert. Though moving quickly, you find yourself smelling the aroma of all types of cuisines coming from food carts. Any local will tell you their favorite sidewalk gourmet, and this week’s Vegetarian Ventures food selection is a real crowd-pleaser.

At the corner of 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue, you can find a halal cart bringing Middle Eastern Cuisine to the streets of Manhattan. The Halal Guys of Manhattan has also grown into a popular Long Islander franchise.

This was my first time trying Middle Eastern food and, I have to be honest, it was magical. As I’ve mentioned in my Vegetarian Ventures introduction, I am a vegetarian, and it’s rather challenging for me to find food that is not only filling but also good for me. I am pleased to say this fine establishment is very accommodating to vegetarians.

I had a colorful plate filled with vegetables, grains, and protein. Here’s a quick tour of my meal:

To begin, I got a bowl styled meal. Their options can either be served in a bowl or a gyro wrap. For the base, they put yellow rice with lettuce and tomatoes in it. After the veggies were added, I got some pita bread and hummus. Hummus is a vegetarian superfood and a great source of protein. For those who don’t know, hummus is made from chickpeas, which is a type of bean. Even though the hummus costs extra, it was delicious and worth every penny.

For some other extra toppings, I added chopped peppers and onions to enhance the flavors. The brown, rounded patty is called Falafel, another chickpea-based food packed with tons of flavor and protein. Falafel is another great supplement for vegetarians to get protein in a tasty way. This dish originated from Egypt and is traditionally made with herbs, spices, and some onions.

Now that we have dissected my plate, there's one more thing any good halal place incorporates. How could anyone forget the white sauce? This legendary sauce is probably the main reason why many people are addicted to this cuisine. A non-dairy sauce with the creaminess of ice cream but the consistency of ranch, this dressing brings the whole meal together. Aside from being non-dairy, I am unclear what ingredients are actually in the sauce, and I think the mystery is what makes it so good. People keep coming back for more, so you know it’s a secret that is spreading.

As for my FOV’s (friend of vegetarian) out there, there are quality options for you as well, don't worry. The Halal Guys are notoriously known for their gyro and chicken combination, which will leave you wanting more, with extra white sauce, of course.

To fill your Middle Eastern cravings, The Halal Guys can be found at two locations on Long Island, East Meadow and Farmingdale. Go check them out, and I promise you’ll be wanting all the halal you can get!

Until next time, keep on venturing!


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