Halal Shack brings new flavors to campus


Juniper Perkins

Perkins tried a brown rice bowl with chicken, lettuce, onion, hot white sauce and hummus.

by Juniper Perkins, Staff Writer

Say hello to the long-awaited Halal Shack, a restaurant featuring a blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors with an American twist. 

Another menu item they tasted was a gyro with beef, lettuce, tomato, white sauce and cheese.

The Halal Shack opened on Aug. 5 in San Diego State’s East Commons cafeteria. CEO and founder Jamal Rasoully officially cut the ribbon to the new location a few weeks later on Aug. 28. 

The new eatery is one of Rasoully’s newest locations. Originating in New York at the University at Albany, the restaurant can also be found on other campuses such as at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University of Texas at Dallas and Howard University.

“We’re national now,” Rasoully said. “New York, Texas, Maryland, D.C., and California. This is our first California location. It’s New York-style street food in the mean streets of San Diego.” 

The food’s New York influence meets flavors from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. The Halal Shack calls this combination “American Halal.”

“American Halal combines mouth-watering Mediterranean flavors, savory Middle Eastern spices and classic American style to create a delicious and healthy eating experience,” The Halal Shack website says.

The Halal Shack’s menu follows a build-your-own process with four steps. It offers six meal styles, six fillings, six toppings and six sauces. Cheese can be added to orders for 50 cents and hummus for 75 cents. Other extras include a sprinkling of Flaming Hot Cheetos and crispy pita chips, both for 50 cents. The Halal Shack’s Spin Sauces are available for purchase at Whole Foods and on Amazon

Halal Shack ordering instructions to help customers pick their style.

While the style of the food is up-and-coming, Rasoully said the idea is rooted in tradition.

“My mission is inclusivity,” Rasoully said. “I wanted higher education dining to be inclusive of all cultures. Everything I do here is my mom and dad’s. I’m Afghan-American, so my inspiration was to share food I grew up on with everybody.” Even the hummus is Rasoully’s father’s own recipe. 

Halal is an Arabic word meaning “lawful” or “permissible.” It refers to food and meat sourced and prepared to follow Islamic dietary guidelines outlined in the Qur’an. 

According to the Islamic Council of Victoria’s article “What is Halal? A Guide for Non-Muslims,” the preparation of meat must follow numerous steps to reduce the animal’s suffering. The Halal Shack serves humanely treated meats as well as offering vegetarian and vegan options with locally sourced ingredients. 

“It blew my mind the first time I went there, like how good it is,” history sophomore Jake Frautnick said. “It’s now my new favorite place at East Commons, replacing Rubio’s. I’m definitely planning on going more often.” 

Frautnick said he usually orders a naan roll with falafel, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and adds cheese for an extra 50 cents. He said he switches up the sauce for a different flavor every time. 

“Their gyros are very tasty and some of the best ones I’ve had in awhile,“ geology sophomore Jules Carll, who gets a beef gyro with tomatoes, cheese and lettuce, said. “The staff is friendly and welcoming. They gave me samples while I was checking out the menu and I was like, ‘Whoa.’”

Rasoully will be in San Diego for the coming weeks. He wants to personalize The Halal Shack experience by touching tables in East Commons and checking in with his SDSU staff. 

“I (want to) thank everybody,” he said, talking about both the faculty at SDSU and the students. “I hope they can continue to enjoy the food. We had a phenomenal week and we hope it keeps getting better.” 

The Halal Shack is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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