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
Street address Corners of 53rd St and 6th Avenue (main and second locations)
City Manhattan, New York City
State New York
Postal code/ZIP 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 (commonly known as Chicken and Rice, 53rd and 6th, Caravan, or Platters) 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.[1]

The franchise is most recognized by its primary dish which is a platter of chicken or gyro meat with rice[2] while it also serves a chicken or gyro wrap sandwich.[3][2][4]


The Halal Guys was founded in 1990 by Egyptian-descendent Mohamed Abouelenein,[5] along with compatriots Ahmed Elsaka and Abdelbaset Elsayed, as a hot dog cart located on 53rd and 6th.[4][6] 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.[4]

The cart has caused a decline in the popularity of hot dog vendors in New York City and has influenced many imitation carts.[4] A cart called 'New York's Best Halal Food' is also located on 53rd and 6th on the SW corner. It is unknown which cart was located at the intersection first. New York's Best Halal Food also has a strong following, and a long line of lunchtime patrons. Workers at both carts wear similar attire (bright yellow shirts) and serve the same type of food though the texture, taste, and freshness is slightly different.[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.[4]



In June 2014, the Halal Guys hired Fransmart, the franchise development company behind the success of Qdoba Mexican Grill and Five Guys explosive growth. Within the first year of launching their franchise expansion campaign they have 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.[23] In total this represents over 200 locations under development.


The cart serves platters and sandwiches. The platter includes meat (chicken, gyro, or both), rice, iceberg lettuce (or, instead, extra rice), and slices of pita bread. The sandwich serves the same ingredients wrapped in pita bread instead. A third menu option is a platter that does not include rice. Falafel is also available as an alternative to meat.

The Halal Guys also serve a white condiment which patrons cite as a favorite; 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. The packet of tangy white sauce contains soybean, canola oil, egg yolk, vinegar, water, salt, sugar, natural flavors and black pepper. Besides their white sauce, the Halal Guys also have a red sauce recipe which included ground red pepper, vinegar, salt, spices and concentrated lemon juice.


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.[24][25]

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.[26]

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.[27][28] Lines commonly grow to over an hour's wait.[29]

There is also a student club at New York University dedicated to the food cart.[30]

See also


  1. "The Halal Guys". Yelp.
  2. 1 2 "53RDand6TH We Are Different". Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  3. "Ask Midtown Lunch: Best Chicken and Rice Cart". Midtown Lunch. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Saki Knafo (July 29, 2007). "Decline of the Dog". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  5. "The Halal Guys: Cashing In on Street Cred". New York Times. 2014-06-13.
  6. 1 2 Carol Kuruvilla (2013-10-02). "Halal Guys food cart to open restaurant in East Village". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  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. 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". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  10. 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.
  11. "Famous Halal Cart on 53rd & 6th, Adds Another Cart on 7th". Midtown Lunch. Retrieved 2009-03-04.
  13. "Chicago's First of Five Planned Halal Guys Opens Tonight in Gold Coast". Eater Chicago. Retrieved 2015-08-24.
  14. 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.
  15. Yee, Greg (2 January 2016). "The Halal Guys celebrates grand opening in Long Beach". Press-Telegram. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  17. "NYC Halal Guys now open in San Jose - Eat, Drink, Play". 2016-05-26. Retrieved 2016-07-14.
  18. "The Halal Guys are here". Retrieved 2016-08-12.
  19. "The Halal Guys is opening in Springfield and Fairfax on Friday". Retrieved 2016-09-02.
  20. "The Halal Guys is opening in Springfield and Fairfax on Friday". Retrieved 2016-09-02.
  23. "The Halal Guys inks 5-unit deal for Toronto".
  24. "Vendy Awards Past Winners". Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  25. Dana Bowen (2005-11-11). "In a Battle of Street-Food Vendors, the Wurst Wins". The New York Times.
  26. "Interview with Best New Chef Christopher Lee". Food & Wine. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  27. "The Halal Guys". Islamic Business & Finance. 2011-09-27.
  28. Julia Moskin (2009-06-02). "A Tour Guide Tames Lunch in Midtown". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  29. Michelle Won (2011-06-02). "Making NYC Street Meat: Chicken and Rice Recipe". Huffington Post.
  30. Yang, Emily. "Chicken, rice and a side of culture | NYU's Daily Student Newspaper". Retrieved May 6, 2011.
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