Five years ago, a hungry L.A. Weekly reader turned to the paper's then–restaurant critic for help. His burning question was more of a desperate plea, really. "New York City has the legendary halal carts on 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue. Please tell me Los Angeles has something similar," Joseph Saranglo wrote to Jonathan Gold on Facebook.
Gold, in his 2011 column, had to break the sad news to the L.A. transplant: "I'm not sure halal-cart chicken or lamb exist here in that exact form," he wrote, suggesting that shwarma might be the next best thing but admitting there was really nothing else in Los Angeles that even remotely compared to the Egyptian-inspired Midtown staple known as Halal Guys.
Well, Mr. Saranglo, if you've managed to stick it out in Los Angeles after all these years, then this might just be your lucky week. Halal Guys — yes, the New York City–based food cart that has for years spawned long lines and countless imitators that never quite stack up — is coming to Los Angeles. And to celebrate, they've even dropped a promotional music video targeting homesick New Yorkers.
The new brick-and-mortar location in Koreatown, the L.A. neighborhood that perhaps most closely resembles the urban bustle, density and grit of Manhattan, marks Halal Guys' third SoCal outpost, after Long Beach and Costa Mesa. In honor of its new home on Wilshire Boulevard, Halal Guys is offering plenty of swag to its West Coast devotees. The first 1,000 customers during Halal Guys' grand opening this Friday will receive hats, shirts, sunglasses and other goodies, the restaurant announced on Facebook. Five guests will be chosen to receive a month's worth of Halal Guys free of charge.
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Never had the pleasure of dining at Halal Guys? No worries. The restaurant provided these tips for beginners on its Facebook page:
"The most famous platter is the combo — chicken and gyro. If you're not sure what to get, go with that. (It's famous for a reason!) Add a lot of white sauce, but be very careful with that EXPLOSIVE hot sauce (your mouth will thank you later)."
Halal Guys is open every day until 4 a.m., so you can keep the K-town party going well into the morning hours — but please remember to use the hot sauce responsibly.
3432 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown; thehalalguys.com.