Monday, May 27, 2019

The Halal Guys Food Review

Combo (Chicken & Gyro) Platter at The Halal Guys

At first glance, The Halal Guys doesn't appear all that impressive. The Dupont Circle location (open for just over two years) resembles one of those late-night pizza places in Adams Morgan, only deeper/longer (and upon closer inspection) much cleaner. The food counter/cash register is all the way in the back, and looks like a thousand other mom-and-pop establishments. Service is fast, low-key and polite, but the food... is nothing short of spectacular. Given its generous portions and low, low prices, I can see myself eating there once a week. No small feat, considering its two miles away from home. Then again, some places are worth the trip.

I took advantage of their app, and ordered ahead. Late in the afternoon (for a 3:45 arrival.) There were only a few people inside, and it's quite a trek to the back counter/kitchen area. Only one employee, but he was 100% on top of things... the kind of guy who doesn't flinch, when a dozen hungry customers come in all at once. My order wasn't ready yet, but he assembled it with unmatched dexterity and careful precision. First the platter (sauces on the side, per my in-house request) then the falafel (four crispy patties for a mere two bucks) and an XL portion of fries, which he popped into a Chinese food container, before finishing it off with a big splash of salt. Toss in a hearty thank you, and a big-size complimentary cup for water, and I was off to the races.

The platter is... in a word, enormous. Diced chicken and gyro meat, atop a bed of bright orange rice, which I initially mistook for shreds of carrots. It comes with lettuce and tomatoes, and four wedges of pita bread. The bread was a wee bit undercooked (and soft) for my taste, but everything else was a home run. The chicken was seasoned perfectly, although not necessarily crispy. Certainly not as crispy as the unforgettable gyro meat, which matches GRK Fresh Greek for taste (and hopefully, down the road, for consistency.) The latter is sooo good, it needs nothing else. Save for the rice, which is hidden under the mountains of meat, but remains HOT and incredibly delicious. It's an interesting mix of Middle Eastern seasonings, and what I'm guessing is turmeric, but it's orange (not yellow) so perhaps there's a secret something in there. I can't wait to try it again, and hopefully duplicate it at home.


The white sauce is much-hyped, but I opted to leave it off (this time.) I did add some hot sauce to the chicken, and trust me... it's H-O-T as advertised. Perhaps even too hot, which is saying a lot (for me.) Regular combos cost only $9.99, a dollar more than the Small platter. Falafel patties are incredibly affordable (two for a buck) and they taste better than most. Hot throughout, crispy on the outside, and super moist inside. B+, and a must re-order next/every time.

French Fries

Even better, hot crinkle French Fries, that look as good (and golden) as they taste. For $2.99, you get more than most other places, and they stayed hot to the very end of the box. Either they just changed the oil (unlikely, given the time of day) or they have a magic fryer (not out of the question, trust me.)

Inside The Halal Guys

The dining area is simple/sparse, but clean. Even the fountain soda machine/napkins area is tip-top; and the tables are set up in such a way, you won't feel uncomfortable if it's crowded. I didn't notice any music, but (truth be told) I was too busy/entranced to notice. It's open late (midnight, seven days a week) and offers special deals on the app, including a FREE platter on your birthday (I'm already counting down to late September.) Until next week...

Atmosphere: B- (Nothing special, but clean and roomy.)
Falafel: B+ (Super cheap and delicious.)
French Fries: B+ (If they're this good next time, I'll be ecstatic.)
Platter: A (Almost perfect. Gyro meat to die for.)
Service: B. (No nonsense, but professional.)
Value: A+ (You could conceivably feed two people for the price of one. And it's great food, to boot.)
Overall: B+ (One of our new favorite fast casual restaurants.)