New halal restaurant settles in at Davis Commons
“We are different” — that’s the slogan of Davis’ newest Mediterranean joint, The Halal Guys. The eatery, described as a fast-casual food chain, is serving up classic Halal cuisine, including gyro and falafel. The restaurant is situated in assembly-line style, similar to that of Chipotle or Subway, and it’s known for its signature White Sauce.
Those who are unfamiliar may be wondering: what is halal food? According to The Halal Guys’ website, it’s a “complex melting pot of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors” consisting of beef gyro, chicken, falafel, hummus, baklava and more. “Halal” refers to the Islamic dietary restrictions governing the butchering and preparation of meat.
On a late Thursday afternoon, the restaurant wasn’t busy, but it wasn’t empty either. I found the atmosphere behind the counter similar to that of a food truck, which makes sense considering that’s how Halal Guys started in the first place. It was 1990 in New York City when three founders opened their very first hot dog cart, named “The Halal Guys,” at West 53rd and 6th Ave. What started as a small street business soon turned into a renowned restaurant chain, with The Halal Guys expanding their brand all over the country and even internationally.
The menu is simple. Customers get a choice of either a sandwich or a platter, from there they can then decide whether they prefer chicken, gyro (or a combination of both) or falafel in their meal. Each platter comes equipped with rice, a small salad and pita, all topped with their famous White Sauce and Hot Sauce. From there, visitors can also choose from a small variety of other snacks like fries, hummus and baba ganouj.
As a vegetarian, I elected to go for a falafel platter along with a side of warm pita and hummus. The service behind the counter was pleasant and moved swiftly. Near the end of the line the server squeezed a dash of hot sauce on top of my falafel. When I requested a bit more spice, the employee warned me.
“Are you sure? It’s really hot,” he said.
And he wasn’t joking. The hot sauce is seriously hot. However, if you’re into spiciness, just enough sauce provides the perfect amount of kick to spice up the flavors of the platter.
To put it simply, I enjoyed my dining experience. The White Sauce was indeed unique, with a tasty flavor similar to that of tzatziki sauce or tahini, but not quite. The falafel was flavorful, but not too crispy, and had a freshness to it that surprised me considering the assembly line style of service. The pita was served warm and soft with a well-sized side of hummus sprinkled in paprika and olive oil. Although the platter itself was nothing to be blown away by, it was these small aspects of the food at The Halal Guys that would make me return for another meal.
And although at first I wasn’t sure how “different” The Halal Guys could be from other halal-style foods I had tried, I could see now how this growing food chain has made a name for itself over the years. With its quick service, reasonably sized portions and convenient location, there’s certainly an appeal to Downtown Davis’ newest addition. So whether you’re a falafel fanatic or simply looking to try something new, The Halal Guys is worth checking out. It’s located at 500 1st St. and are open 7 days a week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Written by: Sydney Odman — email@example.com