Ramadan is a month where Muslims fast from pre-dawn to sunset with no food or drink as part of their worship. This year (according to the lunar calendar and the NY region), that equates to roughly 13 hours of abstaining from eating and drinking each day, which can fluctuate depending on when the sun sets wherever you’re located.
To conclude each daily fast, Muslims usually have a fulfilling meal known as “Iftar,” which satiates us for the long nightly prayer and a night full of worship. This meal is typically shared in a congregate setting with family and friends, which can be at home, a mosque, a restaurant, or really anywhere food is being served - we even once had our iftar meal on the streets of Brooklyn Bridge Plaza.
While there are a lot of great halal restaurants around New York, these 10 are our go-to’s for iftar, located all across the city with food from around the world. Each of these places also has a menu that’s basically designed for a fasting person - with a variety of appetizers, generous entree portions, and refreshing drinks.
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.
This small Afghan restaurant in Astoria pulls you in from the street with the smell of spices and grilled meat. Traditional Afghan decor drapes the walls and always makes us feel cozy and welcomed like we’re eating in our family’s dining room. More so, the portions are big (perfect for sharing) and the service is absolutely stellar. We suggest breaking the fast with some tea and freshly baked house bread and followed by their mantu, which are little steamed dumplings of ground beef and scallions smothered in a rich garlic yogurt sauce, or their sambosa - fried dumplings filled with ground beef, spices, onion, and garlic. After that, try their mixed Afghan kabab, which features juicy beef kofta, chicken breast kabab, and lamb kabab over a bed of seasoned rice. And don’t forget to pour some white sauce and green sauce over everything too. The menu also features some seafood and vegetarian dishes - which are all delicious - and their firnee, shir birinj, or baklava make for a satisfyingly sweet treat to end a long day of fasting.
On a bustling stretch of Starling Avenue in Parkchester, known locally as Bangla Bazaar, you’ll find Al Aqsa. This neighborhood staple is always busy, especially in the evenings and during Ramadan. Come any time of the day and their display counter trays are filled to the brim with freshly cooked Bangladeshi dishes like ruhi fish curry, beef tehari, and chili chicken, along with other regional classics like spicy chicken tikka masala and beef biryani. We’re usually tempted to order everything on sight, but don’t even get us started when a tray of steaming hot chicken samosas or potato samosas comes out of the kitchen. We can’t resist their crispy, flaky, perfectly-seasoned samosas and their cilantro mint chutney sauce. Basically everything on the menu is comforting and filling - and perfect for iftar - but we do suggest topping off a meal here with a cold mango lassi, which is what we all need for this upcoming hot Ramadan month.
We all know and love Yemen Cafe, however, there’s another great Yemeni spot that you might not be familiar with unless you live or work in Harlem - Queen Sheeba. Harlem is home to a huge Yemeni community and this traditional restaurant is a must-visit, especially to experience their lamb haneeth. This dish is delicious and hearty, with tender and flavorful meat that falls off the bone. And like everything else on the menu, the portion is generous. We also recommend their baba ganoush with the khobz bread paired with their marag (lamb broth) or lentil soup, all made with traditional spices. Don’t forget to try the complimentary Yemeni tea too. It’s sweet with a delicious, milky base.
Coupled with a dusky, magenta dining room with plenty of seating, this Thai spot in Rego Park has all the rice, noodles, specialty dishes, and refreshing drinks you could ever want. Start off with the Phuket sampler to try out a mix of appetizers, like firecracker shrimp, curry puffs, spring rolls, and steamed dumplings. Then go with one of the chef’s specials, such as the E-san ribeye - it comes with mashed potatoes and sauteed mushrooms, laced with gravy. Or try the rack of lamb doused in sweet and spicy massaman curry with potatoes. Make sure to quench your thirst with one of their mocktails that come in a mason jar too. The Passionfruit Mojito and Mango Mojito are our favorites.
Tallgrass was one of the first burger spots in New York to use organic halal meat. Over the years, this East Village restaurant has expanded its menu with some new items that we think are great for an iftar meal, like the kobe wagyu beef burger and mac-and-cheese burger. The kobe burger comes with a wagyu patty topped with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and pickles, but you can also add different cheeses and have the option to get it with a pillowy brioche bun. The mac-and-cheese burger comes with a fried mac-and-cheese patty, along with an Angus beef patty, and is topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and jalapeños.
There are a plethora of items on the menu at this Indonesian restaurant that you’ll want to order for an iftar, like a big bowl of their bakwan campur (mixed meatball soup). It has a savory, clear broth with both glass and yellow noodles, and is topped with crispy fried wontons, stuffed tofu, and of course, beef meatballs. If you want a non-soup option, try the tender lamb satay, which comes with five pieces topped with peanut sauce and crushed peanuts. And make sure to order the es teler too - a fruit cocktail mixed with different fruits and juice, before getting topped with milk. It’s basically the perfect complement to a day of fasting.
This Pakistani restaurant in Jackson Heights is one of the best places to experience celebratory Pakistani food and culture in the whole city. And during Ramadan, it’s packed with locals and travelers all coming to break fast, making the experience even more lively. They are known for their halwa poori, which is perfect for weekend brunch, but is also a great choice really anytime. It contains two pieces of poori (fried puffed bread), savory chana, and sweet halwa. If you want a bite with meat, we recommend trying the nihari: stewed beef shank with tons of gravy that’s served with lemon on a wide plate that we’ve been tempted to lick clean before. You can also order some freshly-made naan instead to mop everything up.
Taci’s Beyti is one of our favorite Turkish restaurants around - especially for Ramadan - but it’s also one of a lot of people’s favorites, so prepare to wait and for it to be busy. Everything on the menu here is delicious and worth trying, but if you’re a first-timer, we definitely suggest the adana kebab, mixed grill, and iskender kebab. All the kebabs here are well-seasoned and perfectly cooked. The iskender is especially good in the warmer seasons if you’re in the mood for something topped with a cooling yogurt sauce. And if you need to chill out even more, order one of their sweet and tart tamarind drinks with your meal.
Omar’s has been a Midtown staple for Muslims who frequent the area for years, but it’s also a great destination for food and prayer - there’s a mosque upstairs, which provides the perfect schedule for eating and worship. All of their dishes come with two sides, like the flavorful chicken shawarma that’s shaved from a roasted rotating spit and partnered with tabbouleh and hummus drizzled with olive oil. They also provide pita bread and baklava with every meal, which we very much support. To top it all off, douse your shawarma in their white sauce, which is a thinner version of tzatziki.
One of the few dine-in halal Chinese restaurants in NYC (and one that’s been super popular for years), Fatima’s is delicious, the portions are generous, and the food is always fulfilling. The menu ranges from various types of chicken/beef/seafood dishes, along with noodles or rice, chef’s specials, and dinner specials. There’s no real way to go wrong here, but their orange chicken is one of our favorites. It has the perfect balance of spice with a hint of orange zest. If you are in the mood for something sweet and savory, the sesame chicken cooked in the chef’s special sauce is also one of our go-to options. But if you’re looking for something less traditional to end your meal, order some classic fried chicken, which is juicy, crisp, and tender - assuming there’s still room both on your table and in your stomach. Unlike many other fast-food Chinese restaurants, Fatima’s is very spacious, which is another good reason to break your fast with family and friends here during Ramadan.