Food trucks in New York City are a true experience for anyone. But when it comes to grabbing some food on the street, there’s one original: The Halal Guys.
I have a theory on why New Yorkers walk so much. I’m pretty sure it’s because there is so much food in this city, that if mass transit was more reliable and cabs more affordable, that would we would all be morbidly obese. Just take a look next time you’re in any non-residential part of the five boroughs: fancy restaurants, take out, fast food, coffee shops, and yes, food trucks are everywhere.
When I was coming up with things for the list, I knew that I would have to include certain food spots. I mean, New York City is all about the food. When I lived in Florida, my inner fat kid cried constantly at the lack of good pizza, bagels, and other things. Sure, the south has biscuits and things like that, but there’s just something about food carts, food trucks, food stands – whatever you want to call them – that is just New York. In order to keep the list from turning into my own personal Yelp, I only added food places that are all about New York. That includes The Halal Guys.
What the heck is halal food? According to Wikipedia (we use professional sources here at the Five Borough Bucket List), halal is “any object or action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law.”
At The Halal Guys, they serve up platters and sandwiches. You can choose between chicken, gyro, or both, plus rice, iceberg lettuce, and slices of pita bread. They’ve also got falafel for those who don’t eat meat. I think most people know this type of food as just, “chicken and rice.”
The Halal Guys opened their original location as food cart on the southeast corner of 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue back in 1990, but back then they only sold hot dogs. The founder didn’t think a hot dog was a satisfying meal (I mean…), so he switched over to serving chicken and rice in 1992. Doing this actually led to a decline in the popularity of hot dog vendors in the city, although you wouldn’t know it just by wandering around and seeing all the hot dog carts on street corners.
The Halal Guys are now franchising in locations throughout the city and around the world. There are plenty of imitators, but the original (at 53rd and Sixth) is the real deal. Most nights (when it’s warm out at least) you’ll be lined up for a little while (sometimes over an hour!) to get your food.
I came here after visiting Grant’s Tomb and got the combo. Unless you’re taking your food to go (back to the office or a hotel/apartment), you can take a seat on the benches next to the cart and do some people watching while you eat.
I went with the combo over rice, plus extra white sauce. The white sauce has a mixture of soybean, canola oil, egg yolk, vinegar, water, salt, sugar, natural flavors, and black pepper. They also have a red sauce, which is vinegar based.
If you have to eat from just one street cart while you’re in the city, The Halal Guys should be it. Just be warned that it’s cash only, but if you come prepared then you’ll absolutely fill yourself up with some delicious grub.