The Halal Guys

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The Halal Guys
53rd and 6th.jpg
Line at the cart (2007)
Restaurant information
Established1990; 33 years ago (1990)
Owner(s)Mohamed Abouelenein
Ahmed Elsaka
Abdelbaset Elsayed
via The Halal Guys Franchise Inc.
Food typeMiddle Eastern cuisine
Street addressCorners of 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue (main and second locations)
CityManhattan, New York City
StateNew York
Postal/ZIP Code10019
CountryUnited States
Coordinates40°45′42″N 73°58′45″W / 40.76180°N 73.97928°W / 40.76180; -73.97928Coordinates: 40°45′42″N 73°58′45″W / 40.76180°N 73.97928°W / 40.76180; -73.97928

The Halal Guys is a halal fast casual restaurant franchise that began as halal carts on the southeast and southwest corners of 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, New York City. New locations, both food cart and storefront, are being added throughout New York (including a storefront on 14th Street and Second Avenue) and around the world.

The franchise is most recognized by its primary dish which is a platter of chicken or gyro meat with rice,[1] though it also serves a chicken or gyro wrap sandwich.[2][1][3]


The Halal Guys was founded in 1990 by Egyptian-Americans Mohamed Abouelenein,[4]Ahmed Elsaka and Abdelbaset Elsayed, as a hot dog cart located at the southeast corner of 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue.[3][5] Abouelenein, however, believed that a hot dog was not a satisfying meal, and switched to the current menu of chicken, gyro meat, rice, and pita in 1992.[3] As a result, New York City's Muslim cab drivers flocked to the cart for its ability to provide a quick, relatively inexpensive halal meal. As word of mouth spread via these cab drivers, the operators created the signature dish, a platter of chicken and rice which was popularized within the Muslim community in the city.[6]

The cart has caused a decline in the popularity of hot dog vendors in New York City and has influenced many food trucks.[3] A cart called "New York's Best Halal Food" is also located on the southwest corner of 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue. It is unknown which cart was located at the intersection first.[7]

On October 28, 2006, a fight that started in line ended with 23-year-old Ziad Tayeh stabbing and killing 19-year-old Tyrone Gibbons.[8] The fight began after one accused the other of cutting in line. Tayeh was later found not guilty, as the jury found that he acted in self-defense.[9] The New York Times once reported that the owners had hired bouncers.[3]

The Halal Guys donated $30,000 to LaGuardia Community College in 2016 with the money intended to fund scholarships for students experiencing financial hardships.[10]


The Halal Guys serves "American halal" platters and sandwiches, prepared using ingredients such as chicken, gyro meat, falafel and rice.[11] The taste has been described as entailing a complex melting pot of flavors originating from the Mediterranean and Middle East.[12] The Halal Guys also serve a white sauce condiment which patrons cite as a favorite and has been described as "famous".[13][14][15] A "distant cousin of tzatziki", the Halal Guys' white sauce has been the subject of multiple recreations based on ingredients on to-go packets, but to no avail.[16][17][18] A similar condiment is found at all or most other halal carts in New York City, but the recipe likely often varies from cart to cart.[19] The Halal Guys also prepares a red hot sauce.[13]


Interior of a franchise in Springfield, Virginia, in June 2018

In June of 2014, Halal Guys hired Fransmart, a franchise development company that had previously worked with Qdoba Mexican Grill and Five Guys and had sold 350 franchises as of March 2016.[20] Within the first year of launching their franchise expansion campaign they closed deals for California; New Jersey; Connecticut; Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Houston and Austin, Texas; Chicago, Illinois, as well as international deals for Canada, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.[21]


In 2005, Chicken and Rice was one of four finalists for the "Vendy Award" presented by a New York City street vendor advocacy group known as the Street Vendor Project. Chicken and Rice eventually lost out to Rolf Babiel from Hallo Berlin, a sausage cart on 54th and 5th.[22][23]

In addition, the popularity of the cart has been further aided by high-profile customers. Chef Christopher Lee, who was one of Food & Wine's best new chefs of 2006, mentioned in an interview with the magazine that he "can't stay away from it" and once was there on Christmas Eve waiting two and a half hours in the cold.[24]

The cart has since become a prominent cuisine throughout New York City and has been heard as far as Hawaii. It has caused an increase in competition among street meat carts in Midtown Manhattan.[25][26] Lines commonly grow to over an hour's wait.[27] There is also a student club at New York University dedicated to the food cart.[28]

The Halal Guys was awarded the 2014 Multicultural Award by the American Muslim Consumer Consortium for their promotion of diversity and multiculturalism, and their inclusivity to all minorities in America.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "We Are Different". Archived from the original on March 5, 2009. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  2. ^ "Ask Midtown Lunch: Best Chicken and Rice Cart". Midtown Lunch. May 3, 2007. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e Knafo, Saki (July 29, 2007). "Decline of the Dog". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  4. ^ Vadukul, Alex (June 15, 2014). "The Halal Guys: Cashing In on Street Cred". The New York Times. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  5. ^ Kuruvilla, Carol (October 2, 2013). "Halal Guys food cart to open restaurant in East Village". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  6. ^ "Our Story | The Halal Guys". Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  7. ^ Falkowitz, Max. "Taste Test: The 53rd and 6th Halal Street Food Showdown". Serious Eats. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  8. ^ Chung, Jen (October 29, 2006). "Street Food Stabbing". Gothamist. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  9. ^ Jacobs, Shayna (April 24, 2013). "Brooklyn man who beat 2009 murder rap for killing line cutter arrested for heroin possession". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  10. ^ Harris, Elizabeth A. (May 25, 2016). "Halal Guys to Donate $30,000 to LaGuardia Community College". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  11. ^ McKibben, Beth (December 14, 2017). "The Halal Guys Are Coming to Midtown Atlanta". Eater Atlanta. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  12. ^ "American Halal | The Halal Guys". Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  13. ^ a b Carpenter, Evie (February 7, 2017). "The White Sauce at The Halal Guys is Magic, But Is Anything Else?". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  14. ^ Mascali, Nikki M. (August 3, 2017). "The Halal Guys is leading the restaurant industry in global domination". Metro US. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  15. ^ Delgado, Lauren (August 30, 2017). "First Bite: Halal Guys in east Orlando". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  16. ^ Ferst, Devra (December 24, 2014). "New To-Go Packets Reveal That Halal Guys' Top Secret White Sauce Is Basically Just Flavored Mayo". Eater NY. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  17. ^ Santanachote, Perry (May 15, 2015). "My Quest to Reverse Engineer The Halal Guys' White Sauce Recipe". Thrillist. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  18. ^ "How The Halal Guys Made it From New York's Streets to Southern California". KCET. December 29, 2016. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  19. ^ Krishna, Priya (November 1, 2017). "How Street Meat Conquered New York". Grub Street. New York Media. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  20. ^ "INTERVIEW-It's a Halal Guys' world: New York City's favorite food cart goes global". Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  21. ^ "The Halal Guys inks 5-unit deal for Toronto". July 14, 2015.
  22. ^ "Vendy Awards Past Winners". Archived from the original on December 17, 2013. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  23. ^ Bowen, Dana (November 11, 2005). "In a Battle of Street-Food Vendors, the Wurst Wins". The New York Times.
  24. ^ "Interview with Best New Chef Christopher Lee". Food & Wine. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  25. ^ "The Halal Guys". Islamic Business & Finance. September 27, 2011. Archived from the original on June 11, 2014.
  26. ^ Moskin, Julia (June 2, 2009). "A Tour Guide Tames Lunch in Midtown". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
  27. ^ Won, Michelle (June 2, 2011). "Making NYC Street Meat: Chicken and Rice Recipe". The Huffington Post.
  28. ^ Yang, Emily (October 14, 2010). "Chicken, rice and a side of culture". Washington Square News. Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2011.
  29. ^ Alawa, Laila (November 14, 2014). "What Is it With That White Sauce?". Huffington Post. Retrieved May 21, 2018.

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