It's 2am, and you are full-on drunk. Translation: Daddy needs to eat.
In the East Village, you have choices galore. West Village, Lower East Side, Chinatown, the same. If you spent your night drinking in Midtown, however, which is bound to happen from time to time, your options are a bit thin.
But hark, over there in the distance, a street cart stands on 53rd and 6th, where kind men dressed in yellow serve plates of meat and rice that beg to be eaten with a spork. The Halal Guys are open and waiting for you to claim their lamb, chicken, and white sauce as your own. Just what the doctor ordered.
Before there were food trucks on every corner of every borough, these guys were the crown jewel of street food. And for many, they still are. Not just any halal guys, these are The (Famous) Halal Guys and they serve the best version of the NYC-staple dish, hands down. By day, you want the southeast corner of 53rd and 6th (or 53rd and 7th, at their newest outpost). By night, the southwest. These corners are important because imitation carts with employees clad in similarly colored shirts have descended upon the area, confusing many a customer.
Whether you go for a weekday lunch or more likely at the end of a night out with the people that you work with and don't hate, the line will stretch halfway down the block. But be patient. No matter how daunting the wait may seem, the expert grill men will not leave you hungry for long. Have your one word order ready - your options are "chicken," "lamb," or "combo" - and you will be elbow deep in your dish in no time.
But your choice of meat is just the beginning. Do us a favor and load up on the available sauces as well. The secret "white" sauce is a must, and the hot sauce at this cart may well be the hottest thing in the entire city. A dollop of this stuff packs a serious punch, so be wary of overdoing it. Your mouth will not like you the rest of the night and your body will truly despise you in the morning if you go at this stuff like you would a bottle of Franks. Remember - friends don't let friends drink and overuse that hot sauce.
Salty, delicious, small shreds of lamb. Think of the best halal lamb you've had from a cart before and multiply it by ten. What's that? You've never had halal lamb from a cart before? Then just close your eyes and trust us.
Diced up so no knife is necessary; the chicken here remains moist despite being pre-cut. A rare feat that The Halal Guys have perfected.
Half chicken. Half lamb. Wholly delicious.
This Greek yogurt-like, sorta sour-creamy mayonnaise sauce is special. Feel free to taste it before drenching your food in it, but this is as much the star of the show as the meat.
Really, really hot. We love it and we put it on without question, but that doesn't mean we aren't scared that we put on one drop too many each and every time.