The Halal Guys have arrived in Chicago and since their soft opening they have seen big business resulting in very long lines with people waiting an hour or more for food. The New York cult favorite, which began as a food cart and is building into an empire (four more locations are planned for Chicago alone), is getting mostly rave reviews.
But not all is rosy in Halal's world. Long wait times and some customer service issues, especially pertaining to food shortages in the beginning, are offsetting the general good will. Check out the early impressions below.
The food and drink news: Facebooker Anne S. praises the "fresh, fast, high quality ingredients" but warns readers of the hot sauce, saying to "use it sparingly." "Even a small portion is extremely filling and can go for two meals," says Yelper Sarah S., reiterating Anne S.'s warning on the red sauce. Blogger Sarah of Windy City Wanderlust writes that she has "died and gone to white sauce heaven," stating that she "asked them to go heavy" on her chicken and gyro platter. Again, the red sauce gets a "negative" as Sarah indicates she put on "way more than necessary," not realizing its fiery strength. Marissa A. says that Halal's white sauce "overpowered" the chicken's flavor that she ordered. The hot sauce also "took away my ability to taste," she writes.
Kevin Pang of the Chicago Tribune compares the flavors at Halal Guys to Taco Bell "if it upped its game." While the white sauce is "essentially mayonnaise diluted to a dressing," Pang agrees that the "legendary hot sauce" "is legitimately spicy, as in fanning-your-tongue-in-futility spicy."
Monica H. might need to explore the city more when she incredulously states that "Chicago is definitely lacking in delicious ethnic foods." But she does love the "super seasoned" meat and "soft and buttery" bread, all of which gave her "nostalgic feelings of late-night binge fests in NYC." Duy T. says that the "chicken felt a bit dry even though it was drowned in white sauce," adding that the "overall experience was just crappy" and "not worth the wait." There's "better middle eastern/Mediterranean food to eat" in Chicago according to Jason K., who cites Al Bawadi Grill as a favorite.
The service news: Though the customer onslaught may prove to be the culprit, service and lack of food are primary complaints. Facebooker Jason M. gives Halal Guys 1 star complaining that they "probably shouldn't run out of food on (their) second day open. At least offer vouchers for half off or something." Franchise owner Vince Tan replied saying that "the turnout was far more than exceeding our expectations," adding that his team worked hard to "feed close to 2,000 customers with consistent quality and taste." Duy T. returns with a service critique countering Tan's, pointing out that he "realized why it was taking so damn long" to get his food because some servers were "not enthusiastic" and were "moving as slow as molasses."
Jasmin V. isn't sure why the service was "slow!" "Waited 40 minutes just to find out they got my order wrong," says Kayu T. on Yelp, adding that she still loved the food. Jackson A. targets Tan directly on Facebook taking issue with a sign that only allowed "1 sandwich or 1 plate" that was revealed "after waiting in line for an hour and 45 minutes." He was further outraged on a second visit at 11:00 a.m. to find that there were "no gyros, no tomatoes, no white sauce!!!!"
They get 5 stars from Facebooker Erik V., but he wonders how "a small cart in NY turns plates faster than a full brick and mortar restaurant" does and "can't wait until the hype dies down." Grace H. doesn't have any complaints about Halal Guys' food or customer service, but does have a problem with the harassment she received from "disgruntled Jimmy John's employees" while she was in line. Neel P. posted a 1 star review on Facebook stating that they "did not have enough food for the 3rd day of their opening!! Extremely disappointed." This was made very weird by the Halal Guys' reply of "thank you!" They may want to ask their social media person what's up regarding that response.