53rd St & 6th Ave
New York, NY 10019
If you’re visiting New York City and want to try something quintessentially NYC, forget the pretzel and hot dog stands, and try some chicken and rice from Halal Guys on 53rd and 6th*. You’ll find Halal Carts on almost every street corner in the city, yet Halal Guys has somehow able to secure the “best” title in a majority of New Yorkers’ minds. LAW works near there so I sometimes will go and have a weekday lunch with him there and even on weekdays, there is always a line (see top right). I hear that on weekends, both for lunch, dinner, and post-partying munchies, the line can get pretty crazy… sometimes up to an hour wait.
True… the pile of chicken and bin full of lamb do not really look that appetizing. But no one ever said this was a pretty meal.
Once it is all put it all in a tin plate with extra white sauce and drops of super spicy red sauce, you will for sure be salivating for the first bite. The rice is a yellow rice that is quite firm and not sticky at all. The white sauce is like a Greek-yogurt sauce and helps to bind all the ingredients together. Looking at some recipes online, it appears that the white sauce is made with yogurt, spices, and lots of mayo… gluttony. You can get the Chicken and Rice platter, Lamb and Rice platter, or the Mix Platter which contains both meats, each for $7. The pita bread that it comes with is soft and chewy, much more doughy than supermarket pitas. Thankfully, the platter also comes with some chopped lettuce on the side to freshen up the fattiness of the chicken and sauce.
Their slogan is “we are different,” as in, different from the bajillion other halal carts in the city. Are they actually different? I’ve only tried a couple other carts and this was all prior to tasting Halal Guys. The meat is juicer and more tender, sauce is creamier and less watered down, rice is tasty, bread is great… and since it is so unhealthy (apparently there are 2045 calories in one platter!), I never have it unless I am craving it and am willing to make the trip all the way to the center of midtown. Thus, no other halal carts for me.
*When you get to 53rd and 6th, you will find that there are halal carts labeled “Halal Guys” on all four corners of the street (NW, NE, SW, and SE). I’m not sure if they are under one “company” but there is always one cart with a super long line and three others with no line. So either there really is only ONE TRUE Halal Guys cart, or what we have here is a classic case of mob mentality.