Eat This Minute: T.O.’s newest New York City import has tongues wagging

Expect snaking queues and plenty of white sauce at the Halal Guys’ happening outpost


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Chomp on the chicken and beef gyro combo platter (well, to start)

A MISSING PUZZLE PIECE
When three dudes from Egypt arrived in the U. S. A. back in 1990, they noticed something was up. Mohamed Abouelenein, Ahmed Elsaka and Abdelbaset Elsayed opened a hot dog cart at West 53rd Street and 6th Avenue, and found that Muslim cabbies, who made up much of their customer base, weren’t satisfied when it came to halal food options. A trio of great minds thought alike and Manhattan’s original halal food cart concept was born. 

HALAL 101
From Arabic, the term “halal” literally translates into “permissible” and must stick to Islamic law as defined by the Qur’an. This means that when preparing halal meats, the animals must be both healthy and alive at the time of slaughter (although there’s debate surrounding stunning). A dedication — or tasmiya — is uttered before the animals are killed, utilizing specific cuts before the blood is finally drained from the carcass.

KEEP IT COMBO 
But enough about that. Fast-forward a few years and the Halal Guys has morphed into a halal empire, with almost 50 outposts globally. The chain has recently expanded into Canada, pinpointing Toronto as a red-hot market. With the city’s flagship space, which seats 30, located at Yonge and Wellesley, the New York–style lineups already appear to be here to stay. Inside, bundles of Ryerson students order from the concise menu made up of sandwiches and platters.

The best bet is to get the chicken and beef gyro platter, which is piled high with the fresh-from-the-rotisserie-spit meats, resulting in protein that’s moist and crispy all at once. 

A mound of orange-hued rice, pita triangles for scooping, rounds of jalapeno plus an admittedly lame salad (iceberg and tomato isn’t where it’s at) finish off the plate. Say, “Plenty!” to the inquiry regarding the amount of garlicky mayo-based white sauce desired and show caution when it comes to the red (it’s real fiery, we promise). And don’t worry — if you’ve accidentally undersold yourself on the white sauce, catch the server walking around, as she tops folks up.

The Halal Guys, 563 Yonge St., 416-901-1011 

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Karolyne Ellacott is senior editor at Post City Magazines. She can oft be spotted at Toronto’s most nostalgic diners wearing glittery heels and pink faux fur. Follow all of her eclectic writing interests on Twitter @kellacott and Instagram @itismekar.

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