EAST VILLAGE — The Halal Guys brought its signature rice-and-meat platters indoors Saturday, when the popular food cart opened its first brick-and-mortar location on East 14th Street.
The new restaurant features the same dishes that made its street carts famous — but at slightly higher prices and with considerably shorter lines.
“I prefer the one over here,” said Aylain Sahain, 24, after grabbing lunch at the 307 E. 14th St. eatery on Monday. “The line is short and the guys are really nice and now they opened up inside, so I don’t have to wait in the sun.”
In addition to air conditioning, the indoor space also has tables that seat more than a dozen people, an option not available at the street carts. And the menu has expanded to include prepared salads, fruit cups, baked goods, coffee and bags.
But the comfort and options come with a small price increase, as the cart's regular halal $6 platters now cost $6.99 plus tax, or $5.99 for a smaller version.
Many customers said they didn't mind paying a little more, but Jersey City resident Patrick Simon, who goes to college in Boston, said he was turned off by the higher cost.
“I expected to pay $6,” he said of his usual lamb-and-rice platters. “I’ll probably go into the street from now on. Six dollars is what I want to pay.”
Simon added that he also missed the anticipation and sense of community that came from waiting on long lines of tourists, residents and office workers on the street.
The Halal Guys operates several food carts in Midtown, including its original location at 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue, along with one in Long Island City, according to its website. It also ran a cart in front of the restaurant before it opened on June 28.
The owners of The Halal Guys plan to open additional restaurants across the country with the help of Fransmart, the franchise company behind Five Guys Burgers and Fries, according to reports.
So far, things at the new spot are going well, manager Khaled Abdelhaleem said.
“We’re very good,” he said. “We’re very happy.”