The city is known as the greatest in the world. Songs and poems have been written about it. Countless movies have been made here. Remember Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Cruel Intentions? The Godfather? You’ve Got Mail?
We’re talking about New York, a concrete jungle where dreams are made of and there’s nothing you can’t do there.
It’s New York, where the streets will make you feel brand new and big lights will inspire you.
[First time in NYC? Check out the 10 experiences you need to have in the Big Apple!]
Okay. Enough with the pop culture reference. Let’s talk about halal food in the world’s greatest city.
New York is a mega melting pot, with so many diverse cultures and cuisines intersecting in one awesome city. The food scene is so lively, rich and exciting that you’ll probably have a hard time deciding what to eat.
1. The Halal Guys
The Halal Guys have been serving New Yorkers and tourists for a good 26 years. Back in 1990 when they first opened, it was merely a hotdog cart catering to Muslim cab drivers in the city.
Over the years, the brand name has become so popular that their following is almost cult-like; nobody bats an eye queuing for an hour just to get their steaming hot rice platters or sandwiches stuffed with chicken, gyro meat or falafel. The white sauce is said to be legendary too.
Credit: The Halal Guys
The Halal Guys are in the midst of their world invasion, with expansion plans in Jakarta, Manila and Kuala Lumpur (yay!).
Address: 6th Avenue & West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019 (the main cart). There are more carts and restaurant around the city, so depending on where you are, you can check the restaurant locator on their website for the nearest one to you.
Opening Hours: 7pm to 4am (til 5am on Friday & Sat). There are many more Halal Guys carts and restaurants, heck, there’s even a cart just across the street from the main cart. Do check their official website for the nearest cart/store near you and its opening hours.
2. Cairo Steakhouse
Cairo Steakhouse prides itself for being the first New York upscale halal and contemporary American steakhouse with an Egyptian flare.
From the menu, the steak options are limited to two which are the 12oz. ribeye (USD$20) and the 10oz. filet mignon (USD$24). Since this is also an Egyptian restaurant, you can order kebabs, tajine dishes and Middle Eastern appetisers such as babaganoush, grape leaves, moussaka and hummus.
It can be pretty hard to find a halal steakhouse in the United States so this establishment has made a lot of American Muslims happy! 😁
Address: 2415 Steinway St Astoria NY, 11103
Opening hours: 12pm – 11pm (Sun – Thurs) and 12pm – 12am (Fri & Sat)
Most of the halal food options would be Middle Eastern cuisine so it is rather exciting to find halal Mexican food in New York City! Tacos, burritos, quesadillas, you name it, they’ve got it!
The portion served at this restaurant for one dish looks big enough to feed two people.
Mariachi also doubles up as Marrakesh Restaurant, offering Moroccan fare, so expect your usual Middle Eastern cuisine here as well.
Credit: Marrakesh Restaurant
Address: 235 East 53rd Street, New York, 10022
Opening hours: Mon – Sunday (11am – 10.30pm)
4. Dirt Candy
When all else fails (read: there is no halal food in sight), you go VEGAN! Dirt Candy is a fancy schmancy vegetarian restaurant that makes you want to be good for once and finish all your vegetables.
Like seriously, plants can look so pretty!!
Another one that caught my fancy from the menu is Korean Fried Broccoli that Dirt Candy basically describes as “crack in broccoli form”.
Dirt Candy is able to cater to dietary restrictions like no dairy or gluten-free. It would be best to communicate your dietary needs to the server and they would be glad to accommodate you.
Address: 86 Allen Street between Grand and Broome Streets
Opening hours: Open at 5:30pm, Tuesday – Saturday (closed on Sundays & Mondays). Last tables are seated at 11pm. Open for brunch from 11:30am – 2:30pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
I believe that the culture of the foreign place I’m at should be experienced through local food and because of that, I would usually stay away from our local food whenever I’m abroad. But there is so much buzz about Rasa in the Big Apple that got me very intrigued about this place.
Founded by Malaysian siblings Chef Tommy Lai and Camie Lai, Rasa serves authentic halal Malaysian cuisine such as Nasi Kerabu, Kampung Fried Rice, Hainanese Chicken Rice and Penang Assam Laksa.
The cincaluk featured at the restaurant is made by Camie. Cincaluk in New York? It doesn’t get any better than that! Roti canai, karipap, satay, char kuey teow, you name it, they have it.
Rasa also has sushi, sashimi and rolls in its menu. You know, just in case you want Japanese food instead (Is it possible to make cincaluk sushi??).
A lot of famous people have visited Rasa from Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to popular actress Neelofa to US-based Malaysian singer Yuna. Great place to go for halal food or if you’re suffering from homesickness.
Address: 25 West 8th Street (Between 5th & 6th Ave), New York, NY 10011
Opening hours: Open 7 days a week
Monday – Thursday: 11:30am – 10:45pm
Friday: 11:30am – 11pm
Saturday & Sunday: 1pm – 11pm
6. Sabrett We’ve received multi comments stating that Sabrett isn’t halal despite what we’ve researched online. I grew up watching too many American shows on TV and one of the things I always see on the screen is New York’s iconic hot dog stands. Enter Sabrett – New York’s number 1 hot dog, readily available wherever you see carts with blue and yellow umbrellas. Credit: flavorpill Credit: Photo from personal collection of Mia Suraya Typically, a hotdog is also known as “dirty water dog”, which refers to the simple cooking technique. The franks are left swimming in pot of ‘dirty’ water. When a customer places an order, the vendor plucks out the dog from the water and places it between buns and slathers it with sauerkraut, chillis, sauces, basically any condiment the customer requests. Voila! Hotdog, New York style. Credit: nydailynews There’s just something very American about stuffing your face with the dog by the roadside. Too many American TV shows, yes I admit. Address: The location for a Sabrett push cart varies, you just have to keep your eyes peeled for the blue and yellow umbrella at parks or down the street. There are many more halal food places you can find in New York. Now that the halal food carts have somewhat taken over the hotdog carts, eating halal is even easier and does not pose a problem for Muslim travellers.
With so many iconic sites like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Times Square, it will probably be an experience in a lifetime to visit the city. If you have personally tried any of the places listed above or have recommendations, leave a comment!