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To put it in SAT terms, Carnegie John’s food cart is to Tony the Dragon’s food cart as Mary’s Fish Camp is to Pearl Oyster Bar—the difference being that unlike those feuding fish ladies, should Tony and John meet up on the street, neither would attempt to scratch out the other’s eyeballs. Tony Dragonas, you see, taught his Greek compatriot John Antoniou the chicken-and-rice ropes, letting John run the show when he was away. When there was nothing more that Tony could teach John about grilled chicken breasts, Italian-sausage sandwiches, and combo platters, John, as straight-A students often do, struck out on his own—with Tony’s blessing, of course. What’s the most important lesson John learned from Tony? To start things off on the griddle, move them over to the charcoal grill, and then back to the griddle. “It seals in the juice and gives everything a nice flavor,” says John. Although the lines at John’s aren’t nearly as long as the lines at Tony’s, in a blind taste test, you’d be hard-pressed to tell John’s $5 chicken platter apart from his mentor’s. John also grills a mean $1.25 hot dog (Sabrett), which you’ll want to top with his terrific homemade onions. His pièce de résistance, though, is his $4 cheeseburger—a big fat-streaked patty of unknown provenance (“Maybe sirloin?”). Dare we say it’s better than the one you can get at the perpetually mobbed Parker Meridien Burger Joint right down the block? We do. And you won’t have to wait in line for a half hour either.
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