A Guide to Halal Restaurants in Philadelphia
From shawarma to empanadas to Chinese takeout and more...
Greater Philadelphia, also referred to as the “Mecca of the West,” is home to more than 300,000 followers of Islam. While Muslims are required to eat halal food (we’ll get into exactly what that is below), many non-Muslims enjoy it too, and in Philadelphia, halal food is available in abundance from cuisines around the world.
What is Halal?
The word halal is derived from the Arabic language and loosely translates to “permissible.” Halal food is often associated with Middle Eastern cuisine; however, halal food describes food that is acceptable for Muslims to serve and consume. Islam is the second-largest religion in the world, and there are many styles of halal cuisine from around the globe .
Muslims do not partake in alcohol or any food that is pork or derived from pork byproducts, and are very specific about the consumption of meats and how those meats are raised and prepared. In order for meat to be certified halal, it must be raised ethically. The animal must not be abused; it must be prayed over and hand slaughtered in a manner that causes no suffering. The meat is then drained of all blood and packaged for consumption.
What Kind of Halal Food Can You Find in Philly?
From halal empanadas to halal Chinese take out, you can ind foods from all over the world right here in Philadelphia.
Below is a list of great halal restaurants serving up all sorts of cuisines.
Since its opening, Asad’s Hot Chicken has been a crowd-pleaser, and the line for their tasty dishes usually wraps around the block. Their juicy chicken tenders and sandwiches come in various spice levels from mild to extra hot (consume that one at your own risk).
Walking distance from 52nd Street’s famed Malcolm X Park, Cotton’s Place serves as a neighborhood jewel . What looks to be an expanded bodega is a family-owned and -operated sandwich shop serving all of the Philly favorites such as cheesesteaks and hoagies in addition to other comfort-food staples.
A mission-driven pizza place? That’s exactly what you’ll find when you travel to North Philadelphia for a taste of Detroit-style pizza — made halal-style. Staffed exclusively by formerly incarcerated people, Down North serves up thick, crusty pies such as Uptown Vibes, topped with kale, mushrooms, red peppers, red onions and norf sauce; and the Big Head, with barbecue chicken, pepperoncini and red onions.
Famous for its chicken maroosh, you’ll enjoy the cozy and personal atmosphere at Saad’s . This popular college hangout for University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University students is in the heart of “MuslimTown” and has a diverse Lebanese and American menu ranging from cheesesteaks to shawarma.
Great soul food starts with the same question every time, and that’s “Who made the mac and cheese?” The chefs at Soul Greedy use a family recipe for the hearty side dish that accompanies plates of chicken and waffles, catfish nuggets and fish-fried rice. A refreshing pineapple mint lemonade is a great way to round out your meal.
This small South Philly Mediterranean restaurant serves up grilled chicken couscous, lamb shank la goulette and falafel platters. A trip here pairs perfectly with a visit to the nearby mosaic masterpieces found at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens .
Looking for the perfect date-night (or any night, really) meal? This Center City spot delivers with an array of traditional Indian dishes made just as amma (mother) prepared them. On the menu: kurma masala, chettinad, gonura, vindaloo and so much more.
It’s hard not to cherish the day at this fast-casual Caribbean-influenced breakfast and lunch spot . The Double Entendre (an egg sandwiched between your choice of waffles or pancakes, yum), beef brisket and corn beef Reuben are just a few favorites. All items are best washed down with a fresh fruit smoothie.
With the opening of Don Panchito came the opportunity for halal observers in Philadelphia to enjoy Mexican cuisine. You’ll find all of your favorite South of the Border staples on the menu: quesadillas, nachos, burritos, fajitas and, of course, tacos. Pro tip: Save room for the fried oreos.
Known for its gluten-free fried chicken, shawarma and vegan options (lookin’ at you, enguday fried mushrooms), this roomy and comfortable University City restaurant has menu options for a variety of diets. Do yourself a favor and ask for the hot honey sauce.
Generous portions and a warm staff await you at this West Philly Yemeni restaurant . The aroma of tender lamb and the sound of bubbling stew will lure you in, but it’s dishes like slow-roasted lamb haneeth with fresh naan and fluffy rice that’ll keep you coming back.
Philly’s first Black-owned Chinese restaurant uses fresh halal ingredients to satisfy every takeout craving, from General Tso’s chicken to shrimp fried rice. But where the father-and-son owners truly shine is with flavor innovations like the chicken cheesesteak rolls and wings tossed in sweet and tangy homemade “fusion sauce.” Dig in.
This beloved Indian restaurant prides itself on impeccable service and a welcoming ambiance. On offer: a wide range of mouth-watering dishes, including tandoori chicken, lamb biryani and samosas — and you can pick your ideal spice levels to crank the heat up (or down) as much as you like.
A local fave, Little Istanbul packs big flavor into its authentic Turkish cuisine. This casual spot offers a diverse menu, including succulent kabobs, fresh pita and hummus, lamb and chicken gyros, a kids menu, and a host of vegetarian options. Don’t forget to satisfy that sweet tooth with a slice of homemade baklava.
With a menu full of authentic Taiwanese sweet treats, the cute and colorful Lulu Cafe is oh-so easy to fall for. Vegan boba teas, halal popcorn chicken and plum-seasoned sweet potato fries are just a few of the options on the cafe’s carefully curated menu. Princess Lulu, the cafe’s namesake and muse behind many of its dishes, may or may not be the owner’s adorable French bulldog.
Named after one of the largest cities in Morocco, Marrakesh is as much a culinary experience as it is a cultural one. The bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) restaurant drips with Moroccan style. Picture it: the soft glow of twinkling lamps, comfy couches with plush pillows, walls adorned with traditional tapestries and even the occasional belly dancer. Diners can expect an affordable seven-course prix-fixe meal (served family-style) with recurring favorites, including the honey-almond lamb and the lemon-olive chicken. Indoor and outdoor seating is available, and the friendly staff is happy to accommodate any dietary restrictions.
Get a crash course in Uzbek cuisine at this spacious and elegant BYOB . Popular dishes include braised beef with mushrooms, flaky fatir bread, raspberry mango salad, aromatic plov rice and more. The decor captures the Uzbek aesthetic with evocative paintings of Central Asian lands and sapphire blue accents and, if you’re lucky, you may even catch some live music.
Tandoori fish, spicy karahi curry and crispy chicken (chargha) are just a few of the faves on deck at this spot offering a tour of Southeast Asia . For over a decade, the chefs at Wah-Gi-Wah have been winning locals over with their authentic flavors and casual vibes.
The eponymous Youma Aisse Ba shares her culture, her family history and her joy through cooking. Jollof rice, fried sweet plantains and fall-off-the-bone lamb dibi with seasoned onions are just a few favorites. Wash it all down with an ice-cold mango, ginger or hibiscus juice. This Senegalese spot is also the temporary home of Ba’s other restaurant, Kilimandjaro, while it undergoes renovations. All of Kilimandjaro’s signature dishes can be found at Youma, and Kilimandjaro is expected to reopen in early 2024.