Son Phung knows exactly what his restaurant does best.
"We want to be that late-night food," Phung says of his latest venture, opening tomorrow on Lower Greenville. "After they've had a lot to drink, we want them to sober up here."
At 4 p.m. Friday, Phung and his business partners will open DFW's third location of the Halal Guys, a fast-casual franchise that started as a late-night halal cart in New York City. It hasn't even been a full year since Phung opened the area's first Halal Guys on Lemmon Avenue, later opening a location in Richardson. This will be the third. An Arlington location is next, he says, and by the time he's finished, Phung says he and his partners plan to open 15 locations of the popular franchise in DFW.
The Lower Greenville location is not unlike other Halal Guys restaurants: a bright yellow and red color scheme, a simple counter ordering system, and a small menu of gyros and platters made with beef, chicken and falafel. Your protein can come either in a rice-filled bowl or on pita, and side options are equally sparse: just hummus, falafel, baba ganouj and addictive crispy fries.
Platters are $8.99 and gyros are $6.99, and for that price, you get a serious amount of food. You also get packets of hot sauce (be warned: this stuff doesn't mess around) and Halal Guys' famous "white sauce," which tastes like a cross between tzatziki, mayo and ranch dressing.
There's nothing over-the-top about this food; it's pretty straightforward and definitely an Americanized take on Middle Eastern staples. But that's what made Halal Guys such a runaway success in New York, eventually leading the company to franchise locations internationally.
For now, Halal Guys on Greenville will be open 11 a.m. to midnight daily as Phung works through the process of obtaining a late-night permit, a necessary hurdle in a neighborhood that requires businesses that stay open after midnight to obtain a the city's OK. Once he does, Halal Guys will stay open until 3 a.m. on weekends, one hour later than its Lemmon Avenue location.
"We're pretty much a late-night food," Phung says. "That's how we started in NYC as a food stand."
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When Halal Guys opens on Greenville Avenue on Friday, the first 1,000 people through the door will get free swag, and there will be giveaways bequeathing a month of free food to 10 lucky diners. If Halal Guys' other DFW launches are any indication, expect long lines of hungry, perhaps not-entirely sober diners eager to try a New York food legend that's increasingly become a popular neighborhood dining spot.
The Halal Guys, 1811 Greenville Ave.