If you’re not already in line for the Halal Guys' 11 a.m. opening when you read this—the way crazy shoppers camp outside a Best Buy on Black Friday—there’s a chance that those much applauded gyro and chicken plates will be sold out before you put your foot inside the door at 101 Yesler Way. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s been a relatively slow summer for restaurant openings, despite this generally being the busiest season. Maybe it’s the pure hysteria surrounding these New York imports, part of a slew of raved-about chains coming to Seattle, and their addictive white sauce. Regardless, Pioneer Square is sure to be a madhouse today.
That’s not to say it’s unjustified: The first 1,000 guests in line will win “exclusive swag” (please let it be some sort of fanny pack to hold your gyro as you ride one of their Spin partner station-less bikes back to work), five of those will get food for a week, and one lucky, patient, hungry person will win Halal Guys’ grub for a whole month. Plus, the food is supposed to be really, really good. (Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to try it yet.)
But if you, like me, break out in hives at the idea of waiting in long lines of hangry tech bros, here are a few other options around town for Mediterranean/Middle Eastern plates and gyro sandwiches:
Aladdin Falafel Corner
A UW staple open until at least 1:30 a.m., and that’s on Sundays. The ambiance is nothing to write home about, but man, the falafel sandwich is legit (extra hot sauce, please).
University District, 4541 University Way NE; 206.548.9539
The charming, attentive Arsheed brothers know how to keep customers coming back: a Cheers-like community of regulars and flavorful lamb-and-beef gyro meat piled over some kind of delicious rice pilaf. Missing their Greenwood location, but Ballard will do in a pinch (just check online because the hours are wonky).
Ballard, 5522 20th Ave. NW; 206.782.7777; mrgyroseattle.com
I’d by lying if I said I didn’t go here mostly because it’s closer to home and has a parking lot out front, but the hummus in particular is delightful.
Lake City, 8000 Lake City Way NE; 206.528.3876; zainafood.com
Petra Mediterranean Bistro
This place regularly has a line, too, but the menu is far broader than these other places, including dishes like the excellent shish tawook topped with house-made garlic sauce.
Belltown, 2501 4th Ave.; 206.728.5389; petrabistro.com
And hey, if you’re in the mood to branch out from gyros to dishes like sabich, mana’eesh and koshari—and you really should try them—check out our favorite Middle Eastern dishes here. See you in line at Halal Guys… in a week or two.