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Hallo Berlin

54th Street & 5th Avenue, New York, NY -
Posted By Patricia Beninato on 1/8/2010 11:37:00 PM
New York pushcart cuisine may seem like an oxymoronic phrase to those not from or familiar with the city, but indeed many of the small carts scattered on the streets provide some of the best eating in Manhattan. I’d heard of Hallo Berlin in the late eighties when I worked in lower Manhattan, but was never able to get there as my midtown pushcart-loving heart belonged to a gentle Russian named Misha who did something amazing with hot dogs outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

With the dawn of the Internet I was reminded of Hallo Berlin again and said to myself that I would visit the cart if the opportunity ever came. It did in September 2009 when I treated myself to a long weekend in the city to celebrate my birthday. Hallo Berlin is only set out on weekday afternoons until 3:30 p.m., and the second I arrived at my midtown hotel on Friday, dumped my luggage and saw that it was one p.m., I was out the door and on my way to the subway.

It’s easy to find the cart on the corner of 54th Street and Fifth Avenue—just look for the line. I took my place among German and Japanese tourists, construction workers and a couple of cops and amused myself reading the menu and signs. There was only one man working the cart—I found out later it was the proprietor’s brother Wolfgang—but no one complained or left as we inched closer to the smoky-smelling goodness.

I’d been considering the famous Freakin Deal, but when my turn came I asked for the Double Soul Food Special and added in a Saranac root beer. Wolfgang worked efficiently, slicing my sausages, dishing up potatoes and cabbage, adding a roll, wrapping everything in foil and handing me my bag with a smile and a soft “thank you.” I almost ran back to the subway, eager to return to my hotel and indulge.

The meal and drink cost me about ten dollars and it was worth every penny. The bratwurst is finely spiced and juicy and the “Berlin frank” is the best hot dog ever. The cabbage is a sweet but savory revelation and the potatoes are oniony and a little crusty. The roll is great tasting and also great for sopping up juices. It was a good thing I’d chosen to bring everything back to my hotel room because I was moaning with foodie ecstasy with every bite.

Sadly, proprietor Rolf Babiel passed away in October 2009, but Wolfgang is keeping the cart going much to the joy of Manhattan street food fans. If you visit Manhattan and want a street food experience par excellence, Hallo Berlin should be at the top of your list.

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Bratwurst Sandwich
Freakin Deal
Double Soul Food Mix
Wursts
Rate this place
Here are just some of the sausages ready to be served at Hallo Berlin
"Here are just some of the sausages ready to be served at Hallo Berlin"
Michael Stern





The best brat this side of Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
"The best brat this side of Sheboygan, Wisconsin."
Michael Stern


One of the best deals in NYC.
"One of the best deals in NYC."
Bill Homan


The
"The "Freakin Deal" is a five-dollar daily special that includes two meatballs, a cut-up knockwurst, potato salad, and sweet sauteed onions, plus excellent hot horseradish and spicy mustard to dress the balls."
Michael Stern


Running this cart successfully since 1980.
"Running this cart successfully since 1980."
Bill Homan


So many options.
"So many options."
Bill Homan


To choose or not to choose, that is the question...
"To choose or not to choose, that is the question..."
Bill Homan


The
"The "Worst" truly is the best."
Bill Homan


A typical midday wait here is about 20-30 minutes, but totally worth it.
"A typical midday wait here is about 20-30 minutes, but totally worth it."
Bill Homan



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