Halal is an Arabic word that means “permissible” in English and halal food translates roughly to “permissible food” that is consumed by Muslims as part of our religion, Islam. Any dish can be halal, as long as the meat used is religiously slaughtered and no pork or alcohol is involved. So the gyro or chicken over rice you get at your favorite cart on the corner can be halal, but so can pad Thai, fried chicken and waffles, and dumplings. The most common and easiest explanation we opt for is, “kosher, but for Muslims.”
With only a few places in the grand scheme of NYC restaurants catering to halal-eating Muslims (a local population of ~800,000), we wanted to highlight 15 of the very best halal spots we’ve tried, in no particular order.
MuslimFoodies is a popular NYC halal food blog founded in 2017 by Jiniya Azad, Sameen Choudhry, and Tahirah Baksh. It started as a way to showcase halal restaurants around New York with fully detailed reviews covering the food, price point, atmosphere, and service. Now, it has become a resource for halal-eating Muslims looking to get a bite to eat, no matter where they are in NYC.
We weren’t going to put kebabs first on our list, but honestly, this place is A1. It’s located in Flushing and has some of the juiciest Afghan kebabs and largest portions of broth-simmered rice in the city. They also serve hummus, samsa, chicken soup, lamb shank, salmon kebabs, and a delicious assortment of mantoo, or Afghan steamed beef dumplings in yogurt sauce. The mantoo is a must-get because the texture of the translucent, meat-filled dumplings and yogurt sauce just makes sense. It’s chewy but al-dente and reminds us of eating pasta bolognese in the best way possible.
This relatively new spot, owned by Chef Michael Mignano, specializes in halal versions of classic American dishes, like Southwest egg benedict, Nashville hot fried chicken and waffles, a croque madame, and many others. We especially love their Nashville hot fried chicken sandwich because it’s on the sweeter end and accompanied by crunchy cole-slaw that goes great with everything else. Also make sure to try their arugula flatbread, which has roasted herbed mushrooms, baby arugula, gruyere cheese, and white truffle oil - it’s fantastic.
It’s hard to find halal Xinjiang cuisine in NYC, but thankfully - with a huge “halal-friendly” sign on the restaurant’s outdoor awning - Jiang Diner is here to help. Try the cumin sauteed beef that comes sizzling in a cast-iron skillet. We love the hefty cumin flavor and juiciness of the cut pieces of beef, along with the dome of rice soaked with the sauce.
If you’re looking to try some amazing soul food, try out The Soul Spot in Boerum Hill - it’s been a great choice for Brooklynites and Muslims from across New York for over almost 20 years. From oxtail and jerk chicken to sides like collard greens and mac and cheese, there’s really nowhere you can go wrong on the menu, but the smothered fried chicken is a must-get. It’s crispy-battered and comes smothered in a thick gravy - save some of that gravy for your sides too.
Run by a lovely Palestinian couple, Abdul and Ayat, this Bay Ridge restaurant serves classics like hummus and shawarma, but make sure to try out some of the signature Palestinian dishes as well - like the maklouba with layers of meat, rice, and vegetables flipped upside down, and the fattat lahma, six-layer dish of meat, rice, chickpeas, garlic tahini, crispy pita slivered almonds, and mint. Don’t skip out on the unleavened flatbread, za’atar sajj, either.
Top Thai Vintage has become a go-to for great halal Thai food amongst NYC’s Muslim community. From classic pad Thai to crispy duck tamarind, you’ll see why we rave about this place as soon as you take your first bite. Obviously, you can’t go wrong with a classic like drunken noodles, but their grilled skirt steak with jaew sauce is some of the most tender steak we’ve ever had and one of the first things you should order. Another excellent option is their appetizer platter, which comes with three appetizers of your choice. We usually go for the crab rangoon, fried calamari, and (more) grilled skirt steak.
The famous Tony Luke’s has officially converted their Brooklyn location into a fully halal establishment for the first time. You’ll find a selection of beef or chicken cheesesteaks with an assortment of gooey cheeses you can pick from like provolone, American, or the classic Whiz. And make sure to order some of their fresh, crispy fries that are seriously some of the best ones we’ve ever had.
Owned by couple Fanerra and Hasson Dupree, this Crown Heights spot specializes in more upscale takes on classic soul food, including Cajun-style seafood. Pair their juicy fried chicken with any of their countless sides, like baked mac and cheese, coconut candied yams, or Cajun pasta alfredo. If you like seafood, they have options like shrimp over amazing cheesy grits, double crab cakes, and catfish.
On the outskirts of Queens in Bellerose lies Chicky’s, a South African-Portuguese restaurant that makes great peri-peri chicken. Depending on your heat tolerance, you can choose from different flavored sauces like lemon and garlic herb, or go for one of the different levels of spice ranging from medium to Chicky’s hot. We specifically love the “Chicky’s N Chips” that comes with cut-up fried chicken and a plethora of sauces drizzled on the top, all placed over a bed of crispy fries.
Boishakhi is one of the few Bangladeshi restaurants in NYC where you can find a variety of Bengali-style bhortas (lightly fried mashed vegetables), fried and sauteed fish, biryani, and our favorites: haleem and boneless chicken bihari kabab. Haleem is a lentil stew, often mixed with beef chunks, that’s eaten during special events like Ramadan or Eid, or in the colder seasons. This hearty stew has a very thick consistency and is great with a squeeze of lime and fried onions on top.
Family-owned Carifesta is one of the few Guyanese-Chinese restaurants in the five boroughs. Their fried chicken fried rice, which comes with a quarter chicken with crispy skin and succulent meat, is great and has a hint of sweetness. They also have a variety of Guyanese specialties like oxtail, jerk and BBQ dishes, and lo mein. But on the real, you have to get fried rice in your order because it’s a great savory-sweet accompaniment to any dish here.
This to-go-style Middle Eastern spot in Astoria really goes above and beyond with the quality of food they serve. On the menu, you’ll find different styles of meats (shawarma, kofta, kebabs) that are minimally spiced, but cooked perfectly. For the platters, you get to choose two sides with your meat selection, along with additional pita bread if you or anyone you’re sharing with wants to make their own sandwich. And don’t skimp on their tahini sauce, which we personally like to drizzle on the fries.
Laghman noodles and kebabs are the stars at this casual Uyghur restaurant in Flushing. Laghman is made using hand-pulled noodles with a slightly denser texture that are then sauteed with vegetables and meat. If you’re looking for something a little less saucy (or if you’re worried about the laghman splattering on your shirt/face), try the samsa (small meat-filled pastries) and kebabs that come with the metal skewers they were cooked on.
This classic Yemeni restaurant has served Brooklynites since 1986, and a big reason why is the showstopping lamb haneeth that’s been slow-cooked for hours. Each meal comes with complimentary homemade bread, salad, and marag (soup/broth) that’s perfect for the fall, winter, or really anytime you need to warm up a bit. Another excellent dish is the roast chicken, which comes on a platter of fragrant, seasoned rice. What we like to do is use the marag as a gravy to accompany the rice, which somehow makes everything even more delicious.
Farida is an intimate restaurant in the Garment District that specializes in Central Asian and Uzbek cuisine. Their shashlyks skewers are fantastic and juicy, and their plov is also a great choice - it’s a wonderfully meaty mix of beef, lamb, and sauteed carrots in a rich rice pilaf. Don’t forget to get their colossal-sized, handmade manti. Even though they’re an appetizer, we sometimes like to order them as an entree because of the huge portion size.