The wildly popular New York City food-cart-turned-restaurant, The Halal Guys, held a grand opening at its Midtown location on Nov. 16. Located on 8th Street, the Midtown branch joins the Buford Highway branch as the chain’s second location in Atlanta.
The Manhattan food cart, founded in 1990, started out by preparing quick, takeaway meals for Muslim cab drivers. Word caught on about its mouthwatering food quickly, and the cart soon transformed into a national and international sensation.
The energy and excitement of the event were palpable upon entering the establishment, with employees bursting into cheer each time a new customer walked in. Everyone, from the workers behind the counter to the owner standing outside, greeted customers with voracious enthusiasm. The crowd at the restaurant was impressive, and almost every table was taken. Granted, it is fashioned as a fast-food restaurant, so seating was limited in the first place.
The menu is simple, with platter and sandwich entrees that include one of four protein options: chicken, beef gyro, chicken and gyro combo or falafel. Platters include rice, salad, pita bread slices and a choice of white or hot sauce. Sandwiches consist of salad, meat and sauce wrapped in pita. The chain also offers sides of hummus, baba ganouj, falafel or fries. Customers can finish their meals with a dessert of baklava.
I ordered the chicken and gyro combo platter and a side of fries. The ordering process was similar to that of Chipotle, with customers able to see and choose their ingredients. I got everything with my platter, including the chain’s famous white sauce and a light drizzle of hot sauce.
The platter contained a myriad of flavors. The yellow saffron and turmeric rice, diced gyro and chicken, cool iceberg lettuce and tomatoes, warm and pillowy slices of pita bread and savory sauces coalesced to create a treat for my taste buds. The rice and pita bread complemented the meat wonderfully. I could tell that the ingredients were fresh. The white mayo sauce lived up to the hype and perfectly offset the salty, meaty flavors. A word of caution about the hot sauce — it definitely has a kick. Despite having topped my platter with only a light drizzle of hot sauce, I kept gulping water between bites to cool my mouth, and I consider myself to have a high spice tolerance.
The price was reasonable for the amount of food. A small platter costs $7.99, a regular costs $8.99 and sandwiches cost $6.99. A small platter is more than sufficient to fill someone up, and I found myself belatedly regretting not having ordered a small size instead of the regular. My regular-sized platter, side of fries and drink totaled under $12, and the leftovers were enough for another meal later.
Overall, the food was delicious and extremely filling. It was definitely an “I’m eating a salty, fatty, meaty meal” kind of delicious, and I became full after eating only half the platter. This is street cart food after all, and cannot be compared to Middle Eastern fine dining standards. Still, the food undeniably hit the spot and boasted impressive quality for street food.
The Halal Guys is well worth a visit and its Midtown branch, located in the heart of Atlanta, will no doubt achieve the overwhelming popularity that the chain has deservedly accumulated around the world. The exceptional customer service, generous helpings and lively atmosphere make a visit more than worth it. Go to The Halal Guys for all the rave but stay for the delicious and affordable meal.