I eat food from a halal cart almost once a week. Located near the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, on the corner of Hopkins Place and West Baltimore Street, it rests as an oasis of food sculpted in the image of New York’s renowned halal carts. The Mediterranean Halal cart isn’t just a good meal, but one of the best ways to save money.
For a measly $6 you can get the classic platter. You get lamb, chicken or a mixture of the two piled onto a heap of basmati rice. A few vegetables on the side, some lettuce and tomatoes, and what feels like a full gallon of a mysterious white sauce dumped on the top of all of this. A buck more and the words “extra meat” and a meal turns into feast. Regardless of your chosen quantity of meat, you get a free drink too — cold soda or water.
They have a few American classics like hot dogs, but it’s unclear why anyone would go to this cart and get a hot dog when amazing Mediterranean food is available. Some of the other menu items feel like spins on the platter: the salads come with the same meat options and sauces, but swap the rice out for even more veggies.
Gyros are another option, but it’s kind of like the platter bundled up into a handheld sandwich. They’re massive, filled with meat and veggies alike, and only cost $4 — a more than adequate meal for dirt cheap.
The cart isn’t much to look at, it’s as simple as can be, and straight out of New York City. There are so few menu options that ordering is a breeze, but what they do they do amazingly well, so I’ve never felt like I needed anything more out of the small operation. The employees are a joy to talk to, and if you go there regularly like I do, become increasingly more friendly the more they see your face.
Admittedly, I’m not a fan of the chicken and neither are the 10 or so people I know who regularly hit up the cart. It’s always a bit dry and the color is off putting — a strangely vibrant red color, leading the whole experience to remind me a bit of dog food marketed towards humans.
It’s not that the chicken is bad per se, if anywhere else served it up I’d be satisfied, it’s just that the lamb is in a whole different league. I was never a huge lamb fan before the halal cart, but now I find myself purchasing lamb at the grocery store, hoping to recreate the experience.
The sauces also have their complications. You can get it with sauce on the side, but I never do — it’s always best to get the white sauce smothered over everything. It’s not exactly clear what the sauce is, but most people speculate it’s some mix of yogurt and mayonnaise paired with a mysterious array of other spices. You can get hot sauce too, it provides good contrast to the sweetness of the white sauce, and the two mix perfectly.
The Mediterranean Halal Cart is a bit like a dad rock cover band. Sure, they didn’t write Free Bird, but they do it so well that you’re jamming out at your cousin Johnny’s wedding anyway. Accessible to the UMBC community via the 35 MTA bus route or an easy 15 minute drive, get yourself some delicious lamb as soon as you can.