So, I got pretty excited when I heard The Halal Guys was opening up shop in SoCal! Our friend Kirbie tipped us off here.
Anyhow, The Halal Guys is a special memory for my wife and I because it was the very first place we ever ate in NYC in 2003.
We had just flown over, but coming from the West Coast, it was really late and almost midnight by the time we arrived at our hotel. Luckily for us, we looked down and quickly noticed a snaking queue to a food cart. Of course we had to check it out and lo and behold, it was Halal Guys! It was SOOOO GOOOOD!!!
This first West Coast location is in an unassuming shopping center in Costa Mesa, California.
Their menu is nice and simple. You’ve got a choice between chicken, gyro, or falafel. You can get these in a wrap, or a plate, but from the looks of it the majority of patrons instantly gravitate to the Halal Classic (chicken and gyro) Plate.
There was a bit of a line when we got there around noon, but things moved quickly and we got to order after 25 minutes or so.
As a quick service restaurant, they handle the meat on the grills in the back and you could tell they were pushing out meat as quickly as they could. Once the meat is done, they move it to warmers on the line where they assemble your order.
They’ve got a whole army working here. In NYC, I only recall a few guys pumping things out – but they were quick. Also, NYC is literally a food stall/truck with no frills. But, it’s damn good.
A quick peek at their assembly line.
Their flavored rice is delicious, though it could have been hotter and a bit more moist this particular day.
You can choose to have both white sauce, and/or hot sauce.
*Tip, you may want the hot sauce on the side as it’s pretty potent!!
So here it is. A couple shots of the Halal Classic. Darren, Jorgina, and I all ended up getting the same thing. 🙂
The white sauce was plentiful, although we did end up requesting more later on. (Tip: If you want more white sauce, you’ll need to ask them to add more from the line; If you want it in little packets, they will charge for those.)
We all definitely enjoyed our meal here. The gyros were very tasty and the balance of salad, tomatoes, rice, and pita was delicious.
Here’s the bad though. We all remember how awesome NYC was, and they definitely couldn’t match that experience (yet).
The meats really needed to be hotter which was probably attributed to their line system. Instead of adding the meat straight from the grill, they store cooked meat in warmers along the line. Same issues with the rice.
We also felt like the chicken fell a bit short of what we remembered in NYC (last time we had it, I was visiting with Darren – 2013). In other words, it wasn’t quite as tasty or seasoned as much. Thankfully the sauce helps with that, but still.
In NYC, the hot sauce isn’t in packets. I want to say that it was much less spicy than this version and we would add ample amounts on top of the white sauce.
Anyhow, we’re definitely happy that we’ve got this as a pickup option on our way to L.A., but it definitely falls short from the original in NYC. Maybe over time, they ‘ll start to develop a rhythm that will keep the plates piping hot.
Overall it is still a delicious meal option and we’d definitely get it again.
From what I hear they are planning to open up numerous locations all over in the next few years. Hopefully we’ll get one in SD some time soon.
The Halal Guys
3033 Bristol St, Suite E
Costa Mesa, CA 92626