Breaking the Ramadan fast while in the United States?

Habib’s Cuisine in Dearborn, Michigan, serves as many as 400 patrons a night during Ramadan. The restaurant, owned by Lebanese-born chef Habib Bazzi, offers classic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, including ouzi (lamb with rice), lentil soup and falafel.

A quick roundup of three restaurants in three different U.S. cities offers a glimpse of what to expect if you decide to venture out for iftar, the meal eaten after sunset during Ramadan.

The flavors of faraway lands often predominate at halal restaurants, where food is prepared in accordance with Islamic dietary laws. But typically American fare, like burgers and pizza, also are on the menu at some places. Many halal restaurants are popular with both Muslims and non-Muslims year-round.

California: Ali Baba

Diners eating in tented restaurant (Sandy Huffaker)
Guests dine under fringed tents at the Ali Baba restaurant in El Cajon, California. (Sandy Huffaker)

At the Ali Baba restaurant in El Cajon, California, near San Diego, you’ll find an elaborately tented interior that evokes the spirit of old Baghdad.

Othman Kalasho, owner of Ali Baba, says the restaurant employs an Iraqi chef and works hard to make everyone feel welcome. Traditional dishes like kebabs or shawarma (roasted meat, cooked on a revolving spit) are always in demand, and desserts include baklava and cheesecake.

Virginia: Tarbouch

Tarbouch restaurant exterior at night (State Dept.)
After sunset, patrons flock to Tarbouch restaurant in Arlington, Virginia, for iftar. (State Dept.)

In Arlington, Virginia, the red fez on the illuminated sign above Tarbouch restaurant adds a touch of Middle Eastern flair. Tarbouch’s owner, Ramzi Iskandar, offers authentic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, and the kitchen is supervised by his mother, Leila.

During Ramadan, Islamic motifs decorate Tarbouch’s buffet area, where guests can help themselves to baba ghanouj, lamb chops, stuffed grape leaves, spinach pie and other dishes. The restaurant serves 150–200 meals per night, drawing a lively crowd that mostly eats outdoors when the weather permits.

Learn more about Ramadan in America, and discover how American Muslims live their faith and serve their communities.