Take-out places and food carts dot the city with everything from upscale hot dogs to barbecue.
The Mud Truck If you need a good cup of joe before you can start to function, pass up the Starbucks and opt for a shot of mud. The trucks dispense terrific coffee starting at 7 am at two locations: Astor Place and Wall Street (near Water). You can get coffee all day, plus pastries -- croissants, muffins, pain au chocolat.
Daisy May The midtown barbecue restaurant has branched out into food carts, which serve up pulled pork or brisket sandwiches as well as chili to a discerning crowd. The brain behind the carts is chef Adam Perry Lang, who trained with Daniel Boulud. Carts can be found at several locations: 39th Street and Broadway; 50th Street and Sixth Avenue; 45th Street and Sixth Avenue; 40 Wall Street.
Rafiqi's food cart. The cart has a serious following. Located on the southeast corner of 32nd Street and Park Avenue, it draws a steady crowd of neighborhood office workers, tourists, and just plain passersby. Treat yourself to a combination platter with rice, grilled chicken or lamb, and a salad, add a cold soda, and you have a satisfying lunch.
Shake Shack A good deal more substantial than last year's hot dog cart, Danny Meyers' homage to all-American snack food is located in the southeastern corner of Madison Square Park and serves up a couple of varieties of burgers and dogs, plus fries. For dessert? How about a sundae with hot fudge sauce? Or a root beer float? There are "Concretes," with all manner of mix-ins, or you can go for the eponymous shake. Madison Square Park; 212-889-6600
New York Dosas. This cart has been around for a while, and it has an enormous following: Turn up before 3 p.m. or so, because after that, there's no guarantee there will be any food left. Dosas are the Indian version of vegetarian crepes thin pancakes served with a spicy sauce. Washington Square South; 917-710-2092
Hallo Berlin. They started out a couple of years ago, and the cart is still around, dispensing wursts of all sorts: bauernwurst, knockwurst, bratwurst, and just about every other variety you can think of. Note, though, they've taken the month of July off; expect them back somewhere around the beginning of August. Fifth Avenue at 54th Street; 212-541-6248
Crif Dogs They aren't a cart, but they're open late -- the right choice when you have a craving for a dog, say, around 2 in the morning. The menu runs into a little weirdness (hot dogs with schmear of cream cheese, anyone?). But the standard dog is a winner. Plus, they deliver. And you can get a beer on the side. 113 Saint Marks Place; 212-614- 2728
F&B The initials stand for Frites & Beignets, so you know the place is dedicated to the products of the deep-fryer. You can pick up a dog to go the chicken/apple one is a treat. And stock a picnic basket with fries (classic potato or haricots verts--string beans to you). And don't forget the beignets. 269 West 23rd Street; 646-486-4441
Sheep Meadow Cafe Looking for a snack or a quick lunch in Central Park? During the day the cafe offers stapleslike hamburgers, hot dogs and fries. By night, you can take a table and order up grilled steak, chicken, or fish. For dessert, there are Good Humor bars. Near the Sheep Meadow; enter the park at Central Park West and 69th Street; 212-396-4100.
Peanut Butter & Co. If you've never cured an addiction to peanut butter, this is the place for you. The sandwiches range from the classic PB&J to the Elvis, which adds bananas. But they also serve up tuna melts, chicken salad, and grilled cheese. Desserts are the stuff of childhood memories: brownies, cookies, and caramel-peanut butter apples. 240 Sullivan Street; 212-677-3995
Once Upon a Tart This Village bakery specializes in tarts sweet or savory. We like the mushroom and potato, but the tomato Provencal is hard to pass up. For dessert, the peach-blueberry tart is a splendid way to celebrate the season. 135 Sullivan Street; 212-387-8869
BB Sandwich Bar. Cheese steaks, and nothing but. The quality is very high, and the place sells out early. Open every day, starting at 10 in the morning. 120 West Third Street.; 212-473-7500.
Schnack From the same people who brought you the Gowanus Yacht Club, Schnack is open year round with a menu that runs from 99-cent sliders to 8 different kinds of dogs and sausages to bigger plates, like roast pork or turkey schnitzel. Plus milkshakes, egg creams -- even an orange julius. Beer and wine, and they deliver, too. 122 Union Street; 718-855-2879
Chip Shop. English food is the specialty here everything from fish and chips to mushy peas (admittedly an acquired taste). Besides that, there's steak and kidney pie and shepherd's pie. For dessert, there's the house specialty: deep-fried Mars bars. 383 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-832-7701
Lunch to go -- takeout to die for
The Shake Shack in Madison Square (NYNewsday.com)
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