The HUB has finally opened another dining option in its space with the grand opening of the Halal Shack. The restaurant opened on campus last Thursday, Jan 12, 2023, and is especially notable due to providing an entirely Halal Menu.

Taking influence from New York City street food, the restaurant’s cuisine consists of a variety of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors and spices with American-style fusion. It features a build-your-own meal concept, similar to fellow HUB restaurant Hibachi-san, where diners can choose from rice, salad, zucchini noodles, or french fries to create a bowl. Diners can add chicken, beef, falafel, chickpea korma (an Afghan dish), or the plant-based Impossible meat substitution. A variety of special sauces can be added to top off the bowl.

The addition of the Halal Shack reflected a growing concern on the UCR campus regarding the lack of Halal food options for Muslim Students. The Halal shack’s website clarifies the meaning of Halal, where it explains that “Halal food and meats are sourced and prepared following Islamic dietary guidelines to ensure not only the highest quality but also the humane treatment of the animals they come from.”

Kourtney Gilbert, marketing and communications coordinator for Dining and Hospitality Services expressed, “Everyone’s really excited to have something new on campus. It provides a different dining option with more vegetarian and healthy choices.” 

The idea to bring Halal Shack to campus started as early as 2018 when members of the Middle Eastern Student Center met Halal Shack CEO Jamal Rasoully in New York at a conference and connected him with Dining Services. The Associated Students of UCR in 2021 had passed a resolution which proposed to diversify food Options for various dietary needs and preferences and called for support in adding a Halal options on campus. Continuous support of this led to the idea for a Halal restaurant to replace the MOD Pizza after it closed during the pandemic.

Omar Aziz, director of the Middle Eastern Student Center, has expressed support for the opening of the restaurant. He explained how the group has been advocating for more inclusive dining options and more halal food choices. Aziz explained how it means a lot to students to know they can order anything off the menu at the Halal Shack, “It’s really important and great for our community and our students that they can go right in, no questions asked, and know the food is going to be accommodating and serve them.”

Students have given positive reviews of the Halal restaurant. Second year Electrical Engineering major, Benjamin Kim noted that the food was quite good but held a concern that the pricing may be too high. Third year Computer Science major, Navjot Brar supported Kim’s claim and explained that, “While it was worth the wait to get a taste of the food, the lines have been obnoxiously long.” Many students have expressed that the popularity of the restaurant has led to long lines, making it difficult for many students to be able to give them a try.

The Halal Shack, like all other HUB dining options, will be open Monday through Thursday, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Simultaneously, it will also be closed on Saturdays and Sundays.You can learn more about the restaurant and other campus dining options at the Dining Services website.