The Halal Guys food cart has parked on 53rd and Sixth in Manhattan for 25 years, and some days the line for their famous chicken and rice can take hours.

The cart proclaimed its food to be American Halal, a mix of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food with meats prepared according to strict Islamic dietary guidelines for Halal. Nearly six years ago, I was fortunate enough to try this signature dish with a fairly doable wait in line. The long grain, seasoned rice and tender shredded chicken was doused in their special white sauce, which married everything together nicely. Since that time, national food media outlets have been abuzz with the brand’s quick expansion from food cart to brick and mortar stores in NYC to their franchise locations in San Francisco. The expansion has now come to San Jose, and earlier this month South Bay residents got a preview through exclusive delivery from the delivery app, Caviar. Shortly after the restaurant opened at The Plant shopping center.

My visit to the preview dinner at The Plant revealed that after all these years not much has changed about The Halal Guys. The same great food and simple menu was just put in a brick and mortar store across the nation. It’s a small location, with yellow and red designed in every aspect of the décor and signage. There are few seats, but since the platters are served out of to-go containers and the sandwiches are wrapped, take out or dine in decisions make no difference to the food preparation. Other than a few additions to the menu like fries and hummus sides, or Baklava for dessert, the basics are still there: tender savory chicken, gyro (beef cooked rotisserie style), or falafel in platter or sandwich form.

Platters cost $8.99 for small and $9.99 for regular and can come with one type of protein or a combination. The protein goes on top of long grain Basmati rice, colored orange by turmeric, a side iceberg salad with tomatoes, and sliced pita bread. The sandwiches ($7.99) are actually pita wraps containing the same ingredients and come in one size. They are a handy way to consume all the beloved goods with no utensils required.

The famed white sauce gets generously drizzled on top of the order with some barbecue sauce and extra sauce packets available for take-out. Diners beware: the spicy red sauce is not for beginners and a few dots should suffice.

In 2014, The Halal Guys released the ingredients in their sauces without revealing the “natural flavors” which go into the taste. The white sauce contains items like soybeans, canola oil, egg yolk, vinegar and water, while their red sauce includes ground red pepper, vinegar, salt, and spices—no wonder it packs so much heat.

The grand opening saw a line with about a 30-minute wait despite the soft openings and delivery through Caviar. This line should settle down in the coming months and The Halal Guys will become a speedy experience again—the way street food was meant to be.

The Halal Guys
81 Curtner Ave Suite 20, San Jose
$, Mediterranean