DMV’s top halal spots worth the stop


Photo by Amir-Abbas Yazdi

Inside the Rockville Pike location of Hangry Joe’s Restaurant, their spicy chicken sandwich is photographed with a side of seasoned waffle fries, Diet Coke and the signature “hangry sauce.”

By Amir-Abbas Yazdi, Assistant Opinions Editor

The DMV area is unofficially known for its diverse food scene, and halal restaurants are no exception. Now that Ramadan is over, Muslims are no longer fasting during the day which makes it a great time to try new halal food. But what even is halal food?

The word “halal” literally translates to “permissible” in Arabic. Hence, “halal food” is simply food categorized by Islamic regulation as permissible or lawful to eat for Muslims; dishes that consist of ingredients like alcohol, pork, certain seafood, etc., would be deemed “haram,” meaning they are “unpermissible” – the opposite of “halal.” Halal meats, specifically, need to be cut in a manner that is deemed respectful and just towards animals, which all comes down to the popular consensus of Muslim scholars. It is also crucial to know that halal dishes do not differ from haram dishes in taste; halal dishes primarily differ in the preparation procedure before the food is cooked. So, now that the concept of halal food is more familiar, here are some of the top halal food spots in the area.

Naz’s Halal:

With multiple locations in Md., Va., and D.C., Naz’s Halal Restaurant is a hidden gem that has recently been serving up some of the best halal food. The restaurant chain started out as a halal food truck in New York City back in 2009, and it has been serving delicious, halal fast food for the past 14 years. Their success in the Big Apple has allowed them to open up brick-and-mortar stores in the past few years in more states. Naz’s successful menu includes traditional dishes like kofta kabob and lamb or chicken rice platters, along with more Western options like burgers, wings and fries.

Pizza Roma:

For those looking for halal Italian-American cuisine, Pizza Roma is the perfect spot. This family-owned restaurant has been serving up delicious pizza, pasta, and subs for over 20 years. The menu at Pizza Roma is extensive, with a variety of pizza sizes, combination options and toppings – including their signature halal pepperoni and beef toppings. Although it is technically a pizzeria, regular attendees at Pizza Roma also enjoy the different subs, cold-cuts, burgers and more. On top of that, the friendly staff at the restaurant only enhance the cozy and welcoming environment, with plenty of seating for small groups or families.

Sadaf Restaurant:

Sadaf Restaurant is an underrated destination for halal Persian cuisine. Their menu mainly features traditional rice dishes, but customers never get tired of their beef kabob and chicken kabob, as kabob is a cultural delicacy in Persian cuisine. Sadaf is also fantastic for family gatherings as the indoor seating is plentiful.

Bawadi Mediterranean Grill:

With locations in VA and MD, Bawadi Mediterranean Grill is a great choice for anyone looking for a halal Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fusion. Their menu includes classic dishes like shawarma, falafel, and hummus, as well as unique traditional chicken, kabob, and mixed grill platters. One of the most unique aspects of Bawadi that makes them stand out from other restaurants is its aesthetically pleasing seating arrangements and culturally decorated interior. This also pairs well with their buffet option and the abundant seating – making the restaurant a great place to get together in large groups with friends and family.

George’s King of Falafel and Cheesesteak:

Located in Washington, DC, George’s King of Falafel and Cheesesteak is a popular spot for those looking for a quick and delicious meal. Their menu includes dishes like falafel, shawarma, and hummus, as well as Philly-style cheesesteaks made with halal beef. As the name suggests, George’s has some of the finest cheesesteaks in the DMV – a must-try for those who love street food.

Hangry Joe’s Hot Chicken:

For chicken lovers, Hangry Joe’s is the place to go. Their fully halal menu includes well-known items like chicken sandwiches, chicken fingers and even chicken waffles. The spicy chicken sandwich with a side of waffle fries is a customer favorite and a go-to for first-timers. However, one must be wary of signature “hangry” spice levels for their chicken, that range from no seasoning at all to mild to “angry hot” – which actually requires a signed waver!

Z&Z Manoushe Bakery:

Manoushe Bakery is a small mom-and-pop shop in Rockville, Md. that offers a unique twist on Middle Eastern cuisine, specializing in manoushe – Lebanese flatbreads – with various toppings. The za’atar and cheese manoushe are made with fresh and flavorful ingredients, right in front of your eyes, and resemble a sort of Lebanese pizza. Despite the small size of the restaurant, the staff are especially hospitable and welcoming.

Halal Guys:

Halal Guys started out as a food truck in New York in the early 90s, and has spread their success across the east coast. Halal Guys offers classic halal street food and now has multiple locations across the DMV. The short menu consists of a few choices of meat – there is lamb and/or chicken – and it is eaten over rice or in a gyro. Although the menu is brief, the food truck-styled meals paired with classic Halal Guys white sauce never fail to please the taste buds.

From classic Middle Eastern dishes to Italian-American cuisine to fast food, the DMV area has a wide variety of halal restaurants. Whether in the mood for something salty, spicy, sweet or savory, these eight restaurants are sure to satisfy everybody’s cravings.