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Restaurant reviews in Tyson's and surrounding area... mostly

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Halal Guys - Middle Eastern Fast-Casual food in Springfield, VA

6304 Springfield Blvd
Springfield, VA 22150
Tel: (571) 282-3444

A true American success story - The Halal Guys - a mid-town Manhattan hot dog cart launched by three Egyptian immigrants in 1990 is now a successful franchise with 30+ locations, many of which are brick and mortar around the country, as well as Canada and Asia. Three of these have kicked off in Northern Virginia (Springfield and Vienna are now open, Fairfax coming soon).  

Each opening of The Halal Guys' locations is celebrated by hundreds of eager eaters waiting in long lines around the corner to be the first to get in. The food is basic Middle Eastern fare in a fast-casual setting with an assembly line of smiling servers compiling your choice of protein, starch and veggies. 

The idea is simple, wonderful and efficient. Once-upon-a-decade, it was pioneered by McDonald's: a limited basic menu that appeals to the entire multi-generational family. Our readers will recall that Northern Virginia was home to the original Five Guys, which built on that very idea and has become a national success. Incidentally, The Halal Guys are in good hands. They have tapped into the expertise of the same franchising company Fransmart that helped spur Five Guys' expansion.

The efficiency of this approach cannot be understated. You can see The Halal Guys food cart in action in this YouTube link. While New Yorkers always appreciate the direct communication and speedy pace of service without sacrificing quality, the simplicity of the limited choice and assembly line compilation clearly lends itself to pushing the frontiers of all ethnic cuisines and offering fast and good food across the country. Teriyaki Madness launched the first Northern Virginia location recently with fast-casual Asian food, and there are many more examples.

This recent Bloomberg article points out the rapid rise of the Halal market in the U.S., making it a $20 billion industry in 2016, up by one-third since 2010.  But in the spirit of catering to the North American market, the typical Middle Eastern meat staple - lamb - has been taken off The Halal Guys' menu, focusing instead on the more popular North American meats - chicken and beef.

The Halal Guys' mid-town Manhattan food truck actually has its own website 53rd and 6th. After running highly successful food trucks in New York for over 15 years, they decided to open up their first storefront. You can see the YouTube video here posted by Sameer's Eats about the first brick and mortar location on 14th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan in the neighborhood of my alma mater New York University. One of the main menu additions with the opening of the storefront was a variety of vegetarian options.  

The halal aspect of the food is what got the business started nearly 26 years ago in New York City. The objective was to fill a then-void of catering to the Muslim cab drivers who wanted to grab a meal on the go. It is the wide appeal and popularity of The Halal Guys' food that clearly transcends ethnic boundaries today.  

 Springfield, VA location in a local strip mall

 Ready to serve up

 Servers compiling a fresh Shwarma platter

 Entertainment built in - you can watch the cooks cut up the Shwarma behind the serving counter

 Decor takes you back to The Halal Guys' original digs in NYC

 French Fries

 While sitting at the counter, you can see photos of the original The Halal Guys NYC street cart, where it all began almost 26 years ago

 Hummus, Babaghanouj and Fresh Pita

 Chicken Shwarma Platter with The Halal Guys' White Sauce, which is a house recipe

 The Halal Guys' signature sauces - very very HOT sauce and a mild White sauce

 Crispy falafel

Delicious Baklava