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Haliboyz impresses on Opening Day

I just had a great lunch. That’s because Haliboyz opened its doors today at noon. I figured that I would stop in and grab some takeout for myself and my wife. Little did I know that owners Nour and Malak Ali Mazeh had anticipated my arrival, and what was intended to be a discreet “order to go” suddenly turned into a whirlwind sampling of a cuisine mash-up that mainly typifies traditional street Mexican food (made with Halal meat and some fun family inspired culinary twists). 

Malak (left) and Nour prepare to do battle in the kitchen

As Malak began his routine preparing the grill, the two began to drill down the menu. After listening to a number of options, I told them to just cook up whatever they felt we should try. That was all they needed to hear to get into full cooking mode. Before I knew it, Malak was telling me to “try this” and “try that”, and I must say that everything he handed off to me was superb. “These are family recipes that have been passed on for generations,” they told me. “This burrito is straight from LA. We marinate the Halal meets for hours. Our mom and father are behind every recipe.”

It was easy to tell that Nour and Malak were old hats at serving up this type of culinary fare. to add to the authenticity of the place, they have set up a condiment station (similar to a salad bar), featuring a number of different salsas, all freshly prepare and homemade. “Grab a slice of radish,” said Malak emphatically. “Now, put it on this burrito and take a bite. Do you know why we do this?”

I admitted that I had no idea why I was putting radish slices on a burrito, although I kinda liked it.

“It’s for the crunch!” he told me [laughing]. “Now you’re eating like you’re from LA! We put them into clear little bags, same with the limes and the jalapeños.”

“Customers take what they want to add to their food,” explained Nour. “We don’t skimp on anything. Even if it costs us some more money, we would rather have you eating the food the way we like to eat it. Everything is made fresh and from scratch.”

Freshness and great ingredients served at a super reasonable price is what Nour and Malak pride themselves on. They told me that they only use real cheese, they hand cut their fries and serve it with homemade chili, they smash their own beans and cut their own meats, there are no preservatives, and they even use beef Halal as a bacon substitute (it’s Halal after all) that they swear is just as tasty when added to their Hali Cravers (hoagie-style sandwiches). That means that the Hali BLT is pork free. I tried it, and these guys aren’t kidding when they say that the sizzling Halal beef tastes like bacon.

Down the road, when they have cultivated a good customer base, Nour and Malak want to add some more hard to find traditional ethnic flavors to the menu, including menudo and tongue. They also want to add fish tacos to the menu. But for now, there are tons of delicious items to try. I know, because I tried a number of them. My favorite was the carne asada torta with smashed beans, onions, cilantro, mayo and queso fresco. My wife really dug the sope, with beans, cabbage, onions, cilantro and cotua cheese. The green salsa was excellent on just about everything, and the hot sauce had a nice kick. It was so nice to be able to mix and match the salsas, while squeezing some fresh limes and topping with jalapeños at will. The added ingredients were great with the oversized burritos. 

Aside from the superb food offerings, Nour and Malak also managed to throw together a terrific restaurant, with street art murals. One side of the restaurant is dedicated to LA. The other to Buffalo. Their logo is half bear, half buffalo, which signifies the joining of the two cultures that they have come to love. That ‘love’ is parlayed into the food, which is their way of paying respects to their Mexican and Lebanese roots. We’re lucky to have those roots planted firmly in Black Rock.

Haliboyz Mexican-American Grille | 388 Amherst Street | Buffalo NY | 716-783-9940 | Facebook

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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