The Halal Guys

The Halal Guys
A line at the cart (2007)
Restaurant information
Established 1990
Current owner(s) Mohamed Abouelenein
Food type Halal, Middle Eastern cuisine
Street address Corners of 53rd St and 6th Avenue (main and second locations)
City Manhattan, New York City
State New York
Postal/ZIP Code 10019
Country United States
Coordinates 40°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 a food cart on the south-east corner of 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The franchise also has a cart on the south-west corner of the same intersection. 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-descendent Mohamed Abouelenein,[4] along with compatriots Ahmed Elsaka and Abdelbaset Elsayed, as a hot dog cart located on 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 the cart spread via these chatty cabbies, the now-famous platter of chicken and rice was born, and 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 imitation carts.[3] A cart called 'New York's Best Halal Food' is also located on 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue on the southwest corner. 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] Tayeh was later found not guilty, as the jury found that he acted in self-defense. The fight began after one accused the other of cutting in line.[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][11]


The Halal Guys serves "American halal" platters and sandwiches, prepared using ingredients such as chicken, gyro meat, falafel and rice.[12] The taste has been described as entailing a complex melting pot of flavors originating from the Mediterranean and Middle East.[13] The Halal Guys also serve a white sauce condiment which patrons cite as a favorite and has been described as "famous".[14][15][16] 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.[17][18][19] 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.[20] The Halal Guys also prepares a red hot sauce.[14]



After being approached numerous times, holding off franchising to await a company that would respect their origins and core values, the Halal Guys hired Fransmart, the franchise development company behind the success and explosive growth of Qdoba Mexican Grill and Five Guys, in June 2014.[45] Within the first year of launching their franchise expansion campaign they closed deals for California; New Jersey; Connecticut; Virginia; Washington, DC; Houston and Austin, Texas ; Chicago, Illinois, as well as international deals for Canada, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.[46] In total this represents over 200 locations under development.

Despite initial concern that the company’s name or its association with Muslim culture wouldn’t sit well with many Americans, Fransmart CEO Dan Rowe said that he has confidence in the company, and envisions that ”by the time they’re in Chattanooga, there will be so much good buzz, they’ll be excited to try it."[47]


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.[48][49]

In addition, the popularity of the cart has been further aided by high-profile customers. Chef Christopher Lee, who was one of Food & Wine Magazine'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.[50]

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.[51][52] Lines commonly grow to over an hour's wait.[53] There is also a student club at New York University dedicated to the food cart.[54]

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.[55]

See also


  1. 1 2 "We Are Different". Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  2. "Ask Midtown Lunch: Best Chicken and Rice Cart". Midtown Lunch. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Saki Knafo (July 29, 2007). "Decline of the Dog". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  4. Vadukul, Alex (2014-06-15). "The Halal Guys: Cashing In on Street Cred". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  5. 1 2 Carol Kuruvilla (2013-10-02). "Halal Guys food cart to open restaurant in East Village". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  6. "Our Story | The Halal Guys". Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  7. Max Falkowitz. "Taste Test: The 53rd and 6th Halal Street Food Showdown". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2014-02-28.
  8. Jen Chung (2006-10-29). "Street Food Stabbing". Gothamist. Archived from the original on 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2009-03-04.
  9. Shayna Jacobs (2013-04-24). "Brooklyn man who beat 2009 murder rap for killing line cutter arrested for heroin possession". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  10. "Halal Guys to Donate $30,000 to LaGuardia Community College". The New York Times. 2016-05-25. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  11. "The Halal Guys". Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  12. McKibben, Beth (December 14, 2017). "The Halal Guys Are Coming to Midtown Atlanta". Eater Atlanta. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  13. "American Halal | The Halal Guys". Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  14. 1 2 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.
  15. "The Halal Guys is leading the restaurant industry in global domination". Metro US. August 3, 2017. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  16. Delgado, Lauren (August 30, 2017). "First Bite: Halal Guys in east Orlando". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  17. "New To-Go Packets Reveal That Halal Guys' Top Secret White Sauce Is Basically Just Flavored Mayo". Eater NY. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  18. Santanachote, Perry (2015-05-15). "My Quest to Reverse Engineer The Halal Guys' White Sauce Recipe". Thrillist. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  19. "How The Halal Guys Made it From New York's Streets to Southern California". KCET. 2016-12-29. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  20. Krishna, Priya (October 1, 2017). "How Street Meat Conquered New York". New York Magazine. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  21. Robin Raisfeld and Rob Patronite (June 18, 2007). "The Concrete Elite New York's twenty best food carts ranked in order". New York Restaurants. Retrieved 2009-03-04.
  22. "Famous Halal Cart on 53rd & 6th, Adds Another Cart on 7th". Midtown Lunch. Retrieved 2009-03-04.
  23. "Restaurant Openings: Halal Guys, Maharaja, Voila Chocolat, Sushi Spot". Westside Rag. Retrieved 2015-06-25.
  24. "Chicago's First of Five Planned Halal Guys Opens Tonight in Gold Coast". Eater Chicago. Retrieved 2015-08-24.
  25. Benjamin Brown (September 29, 2015). "New York food phenom Halal Guys to open first West Coast eatery in Costa Mesa". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 2015-10-07.
  26. "The Halal Guys: New York's Most Famous Street Cart now in Manila! @HalalGuys". Our Awesome Planet. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  27. Yee, Greg (2 January 2016). "The Halal Guys celebrates grand opening in Long Beach". Press-Telegram. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  28. "The Halal Guys open first New Jersey location, more to follow". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  29. "NYC Halal Guys now open in San Jose – Eat, Drink, Play". 2016-05-26. Retrieved 2016-07-14.
  30. "The Halal Guys are here". Retrieved 2016-08-12.
  31. 1 2 "The Halal Guys is opening in Springfield and Fairfax on Friday". Retrieved 2016-09-02.
  32. "Montrealers line up for taste of Big Apple as Halal Guys opens". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  33. "The Halal Guys, famous for a New York food cart, are coming to Toronto". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  34. "Big Name NYC Street Meat Purveyors Bow out of Montreal". Eater Montreal. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  35. "NYC street grub finds a home in Seoul". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  36. "The Halal guys open first Arizona restaurant in Tempe". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  37. "The Halal Guys To Open January 28 - What Now Atlanta". 13 January 2017. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  38. "How Shreveport made the cut for The Halal Guys". Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  39. Aksich, Caroline. "What's on the menu at The Halal Guys, Toronto's first location of the New York food-cart favourite". Toronto Life. St. Joseph Media. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  40. "The Halal Guys in Waterford Lakes is now in soft opening mode". Retrieved 29 Aug 2017.
  41. "Arrival of the Halal Guys Makes Boston's Dreams Come True Today". Retrieved 19 Sep 2017.
  42. "The Halal Guys". The District at Tustin Legacy. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  43. "Halal Guys (The) Announces Openings of New Southern California Locations",
  44. "The Halal Guys Opens Next Week in Rockville". 5 February 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  45. "INTERVIEW-It's a Halal Guys' world: New York City's favorite food cart goes global". Retrieved 2018-05-21.
  46. "The Halal Guys inks 5-unit deal for Toronto".
  47. "The Halal Guys: Cashing In on Street Cred". The New York Times. 2014-06-13. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-05-21.
  48. "Vendy Awards Past Winners". Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  49. Dana Bowen (2005-11-11). "In a Battle of Street-Food Vendors, the Wurst Wins". The New York Times.
  50. "Interview with Best New Chef Christopher Lee". Food & Wine. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  51. "The Halal Guys". Islamic Business & Finance. 2011-09-27.
  52. Julia Moskin (2009-06-02). "A Tour Guide Tames Lunch in Midtown". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  53. Michelle Won (2011-06-02). "Making NYC Street Meat: Chicken and Rice Recipe". The Huffington Post.
  54. Yang, Emily. "Chicken, rice and a side of culture". Washington Square News. Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2011.
  55. Alawa, Laila (2014-11-14). "What Is it With That White Sauce?". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-05-21.
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