A NYC-based fast food empire with global aspirations has announced the first location in what will be a major push into the Houston market. No, modern burger icon Shake Shack hasn't committed to Houston (yet?), but The Halal Guys have. Begun as a food cart in 1990 to appeal to Muslim cab drivers, the restaurant has blossomed into a phenomenon that's in the process of opening 200 locations around the world.
Although The Halal Guys first announced their plans for Houston last December in QSR Magazine, they only revealed the location of their first restaurant on Thursday. They're taking over a former Snap Kitchen location near Shepherd Square.
While the name suggests a primarily Muslim clientele, The Halal Guys chicken, gyro and falafel platters over rice and their signature white sauce have a more universal appeal. Credit for that goes to reasonable prices and that white sauce, which the New York Times tried to describe in 2014 as follows:
But it’s the white sauce, always the white sauce, that draws everybody in, from uniformed cops to dainty girls whose palates otherwise incline to macarons. The recipe has never been divulged or properly decoded, although many have tried. Mr. Abouelenein allows that there’s mayo in it; the rest is silence.
Get ready to taste it, America. It is tangy yet mellow, creamy yet deceptively light, with vague and probably spurious allusions to ranch dressing and tzatziki, a strong implication of garlic and lemon, and maybe even (wild card) tahini. But we will never know the truth, and that is half the thrill.
The restaurant has yet to respond to CultureMap's request for more information about when the location will open, but the usually reliable blogger Zain Mohammed of Zain's Halal Reviews tweeted that he's heard rumors it could be as soon as September. Whether Houstonians will join New Yorkers in lining up for lamb with white sauce remains to be seen, but, in the meantime, diners can check out Jones Fried Chicken on Fondren, which advertises itself as inspired by The Halal Guys, for a preview of the real thing.