3033 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Having tried their original cart in New York City, we had to try out their new Southern California location in Costa Mesa. With a long line inside the restaurant and room for a potential line outside the restaurant, the Halal Guys serves up classic sandwiches and platters with chicken, rice, and gyro. The line was moving fairly slow at first, but it picked up quickly. Ordering here is a bit different from at the original cart, as you walk through the assembly line of sorts as people behind the counter create your order. When we ordered, they did originally screw up with the meat choices, but quickly corrected the issue.
Today, I ordered the Halal Classic platter with chicken and gyro and no tomatoes. After lettuce, rice, and meat are scooped onto the platter, someone behind the counter asks you how much sauce you want on the platter. You can let the person with the squeeze bottle know how much white and red sauce to put on. I had a lot of white sauce and a little red sauce on mines. After the top the platter with sauce, they cover it with a clear plastic cover instead of the classic paper cover. After mixing the rice, meat, and sauce together, I was able to finally get a taste of this New York classic. There may have been too much white sauce, but that is OK. The rice is a bit different here because it is more orange instead of light brown. The rice was also a bit dry and flavorless. The chicken was not as shredded as the platter in New York and was not tender. There was a good amount of gyro, but that was pretty flavorless as well. The dish only tasted better with the white and red sauces. The red sauce was still as hot as before. Even when mixed in with the sauce, the platter just didn’t taste the same.
Overall, Halal Guys still serves up a good platter of food, but it did not taste as good as the original cart in New York. If you have never tried the platter before, it is still worth trying. Prices at this brick-and-mortar location is also higher than the cart coming in at just under $10 per platter. If you want additional sauce packets, they charge $0.50 each. Considering that Halal Guys has another location opening in Long Beach and then one in Berkeley, I am willing to give them another chance to see if there is better quality food at the other locations. Otherwise, you will need to go to New York City for the original cart.