If you’ve ever enjoyed those glorious globes of fried chickpeas, onion, garlic and spices known as falafel, then you’ve tasted the savory goodness of halal food. Halal simply means the ingredients used in the recipe adhere to certain Islamic laws, and Michigan’s large Arab population mean that Detroit is full of great options for finding a healthy and delicious halal meal. Here are our top picks.
Restaurant, Middle Eastern, $$$
Dearborn, Michigan is home to one of the largest Arab communities in the U.S., so it’s no surprise that there’s so much great food to be found. Al-Ajami is one such place, a family-style Middle Eastern eatery with a diner vibe and long tables, meaning it’s great for big groups. Breakfast is home-cooked and served all day, and chicken shawarma is a standout at lunch and dinner.
A Detroit fixture of authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, Al-Ameer has been wowing diners since 1989. Last year, the restaurant became Michigan’s first to receive the highly prestigious James Beard American Classics Award, presented to locally owned businesses that have had their doors open for a decade or more. Friendly and family-run, Al-Ameer never fails to impress with its expansive menu, featuring highlights such as rich lamb with almonds, yogurt, and rice, and the paprika and cumin-infused sujuk sausage.
A local favorite, The Sheikh may not look so special from the outside, but fans consider it to be a cut above the rest. People love the friendly and attentive service and superior ingredients, featuring high-quality meats and vegetables fresh as can be. Recommended dishes include the beef kabobs, deboned chicken, and a side of creamy hummus.
If you’re willing to venture out to Ann Arbor (and you should because it’s adorable), you’ll be rewarded with the dining experience of Palm Palace. An excellent place for a date, special occasion, or even an event, the restaurant boasts an attractive and comfortable interior as well as classic staples like grape leaves and baba ghanoush, as well as Kibbie Nayeea—a Lebanese delicacy similar to a lamb tartar.
Similar in name, but different in setting, you’ll find La Palma closer to downtown Detroit. Its interior is modern and elegantly urban, with exposed brick and sophisticated wood touches. It’s the food that keeps the patrons coming back, however. People love the complimentary warm pita and garlic sauce, as well as the poutine-inspired shawarma and French fry plates.
This popular and authentic Lebanese restaurant in Dearborn has the lot, from the freshest ingredients and wonderful, attentive service to a great family ambience and affordable pricing. It has a broad menu with kabobs, meat platters and salads, and expect to receive some complimentary hommous and pita fresh from the oven.
It may look rough around the edges, but once inside, all that matters is this unassuming restaurant’s selection of Yemeni specialties. Open early until late, the Yemen Café draws all kinds of crowds and is good for groups. People love the lamb, fresh vegetables and flatbreads, as well as the kind gesture of a complimentary cup of tea.
If you find yourself around Detroit’s cultural center, the Byblos Cafe & Grill is a relaxed but tasty option for Middle Eastern fare near to the Wayne State campus. It has a wide ranging menu with plenty of affordable options, including all the typical standards like shawarma, grape leaves and falafel.
AlJoom’s is a small barbecue joint tucked away in River Rogue, around 20 minutes southwest of the city. If you go for breakfast (or any other meal), don’t miss the EBJ – eggs, (non-pork) bacon, and jelly on Texas Toast. It’s a crowd-pleaser, and yes there is such a thing as halal bacon.