Several new restaurants serving food from India, the Middle East, and Japan have recently opened or will open soon, and the Upper West Side now has a make-your own chocolate spot.

Halal Guys opens on 95th street and Amsterdam Avenue on Friday, and the restaurant offered free samples of its food on Thursday night. As a recipient of one of those samples, I can say it hit the spot, and the hot sauce is no joke! Halal Guys started as a wildly popular midtown food cart and has begun expanding to brick and mortar locations. The Times wrote about the 14th street Halal Guys location this week, noting that the white sauce is a particular draw:

“But it’s the white sauce, always the white sauce, that draws everybody in, from uniformed cops to dainty girls whose palates otherwise incline to macarons. The recipe has never been divulged or properly decoded, although many have tried. Mr. Abouelenein allows that there’s mayo in it; the rest is silence.”

The menu is simple: gyro and chicken platters or sandwiches, and falafel, along with a series of desserts and side dishes, including hummus and french fries. The prices are reasonable too — $6.99 for a small platter, $5.49 for a sandwich. Thanks to Ben for the tip.


Maharaja Palace, an Indian restaurant on Amsterdam between 105th and 106th street, opened a couple of months ago, but we just found out about it this week. Reader Rob wrote “It’s been open two and a half months and they still don’t have their beer and wine license (awaiting approval by the community board) but such amazing Indian food, very talented chef, they even make their own lentil chips. This is their third location and they want to expand to 30 within the next three years, pretty ambitious.”

Voila Chocolat, the make-your-own chocolate place at 221 West 79th street we wrote about a few months ago, opened on Thursday. The store allows you to learn how to make your own chocolate, either through events you can schedule beforehand or simply by dropping into the store. Classes, which can take 20 minutes to an hour, start at $39. “Choose your favorite ingredients… then hand-roll exquisite chocolate truffles, design and mold your own chocolate bars or bonbons, dip fruits and other morsels in premium tempered chocolate, or try one of our other chocolatiering experiences.” And if you feel like just eating chocolate, they sell it too. The store has a pretty extensive website explaining how it works here.


A new sushi place is planning to open in the coming months at 2191 Broadway between 77th and 78th streets, the former home of boutique clothing store BOC, according to two tipsters who spoke to construction workers. The name of the restaurant is not yet known, but it’s a very welcome development for a well-trafficked block that has way too many vacant stores. Thanks to Eric and Julie for tips.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 10 comments | permalink
    1. Z Perez says:

      Can anyone tell me what is happening at Essential on 81st and Broadway. For months the stock has been depleting but when you inquire of the employees they all say they are not closing. Very mysterious goings on at Essential

      Thank you, Z Perez

    2. Sami Beth says:

      So excited to try halal guys! I’ve been eyeing it for months.

    3. Alex says:

      We’ve been ordering from Maharaja for a while and their food is delicious and delivery is super quick. Two thumbs up!

    4. halallover says:

      Had to update. Went in this evening around 6pm and it was packed. Service was excellent and quick. Cash only for now. Soda machine not up and running yet. I ordered a chicken gyro platter….hunger is the best seasoning so factor that in, but it was good. The white sauce was great, the tomatoes and lettuce were fresh, the chicken was good and well seasoned, but a wee bit dry. I agree this isn’t the most phenomenal meal I’ve ever eaten, but for $8.00 a platter it hits the spot.

    5. 92nd Street says:

      I am really hoping this is a quality sushi joint. The UWS is littered with awful over priced sushi. The only quality places I know of in the near vicinity are Gari and Blue Ribbon.

    6. George says:

      I really enjoyed the food and service