“We are Different” is the slogan from this worldwide franchise that was born on the streets of New York City. It has been almost 2 decades since the “Halal Cart Food” Craze took hold in Manhattan and quickly spread across the nation. With their famous White and Red sauce, The Halal Guys have made Halal Middle-Eastern food mainstream. It has been a year since they opened their first store in Orlando and it continues to be a popular spot for hungry patrons looking to dabble in the hype that is “The Halal Guys”.
The menu has stayed true to their origins, offering only the original items from the New York street carts. Thus the menu is very focused, so if you are looking for variety, this may not be the spot for that.
The main draw is the Halal Cart food. It consists of chicken and/or gyro pieces cooked on a flat top grill with rice and a salad served in the signature tin bowl. A bottle of White sauce is available at the counter so you can take pleasure in pouring their signature White sauce all over your meal, which is an essential part of the experience. If you are daring enough and can stand the heat, add a little Red hot sauce to the mix.
There is a heated debate over the internet whether the food tastes exactly like the original Cart Food from the streets of New York. In my opinion, having had both, I can taste the difference, with the original New York cart food being superior.
For those not wanting the traditional rice platter, the pita wrap is an option.
The best time to go is during lunch when meats are freshly coming off the grill.
Just like on the streets of New York, the key to their operation was efficiency and speedy service. When you walk in to the store, the counter to place your order is in the back. The menu is directly over the area where you place your order in case you need a reference. The employees are quick to assemble and dress your meal to your specification, but they have a robotic vibe to the process.
When you enter the restaurant there are large photo murals on the wall referencing their original cart food location in Manhattan. They have murals of the iconic long lines of hungry New Yorkers waiting for their turn to eat “Halal Cart Food”. The store is clean and has plenty of seating area. It creates a nostalgic feeling for those that are familiar with the brand.
The Halal Guys opened their first Orlando location in a large shopping complex just south of the University of Central Florida. It is next to the Men’s Warehouse Suit store for reference and not to far from the toll highway 408.
There is ample parking in front of the store.
I have a bias for The Halal Guys, as I used to be one of those patrons that would wait in line at the original Street Cart on 53rd and 6th in New York for hours in the middle of the night (we didn’t have UberEats back then). It was an experience to wait with friends and anticipate the yummy reward at the end.
Most of all, I enjoyed pouring an unhealthy amount of White sauce over my meal (btw there is no healthy amount of White sauce).
So to see the iconic Big City franchise in Orlando is a reminder of the “good old days”. Having said that, the store doesn’t take the meal or experience to a new level, but rather rides off the original New York Cart. The limited menu can make it difficult to become a repeat patron to the franchise as there is little more to explore on the menu. It’s true that Cart Food is an acquired taste, but it must be tried at least once for the experience.
Food Category: Middle-Eastern Fast-Food
Guru’s Rapid Review: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Must Try: Mixed (Gyro and Chicken) Rice Platter with Extra White Sauce
Address: 688 N Alafaya Trail, Ste 103, Orlando, Fl, 32828
Phone: (407) 271-8606