Miami’s not typically thought of as an “eat, pray love” destination, but the city’s rich blend of nationalities and religions makes for quite the multicultural mix. Whether you’re a local or just heading here on a weekend getaway, those who follow a halal diet won’t need to worry about lack of options when it comes to eateries. Rest assured everything at these spots is prepared according to Islamic Law. Once you’re done eating and praying (or vice-versa), you can engage in the love component any way you’d like, whether that’s through a visit to one of the Muslim community centers or over great conversation while sharing shisha water pipes.
Where to Eat
South Beach may seem like it caters more to than clubs than cafes sporting halal cuisine, but Fresh on Fifth just so happens to combine the two in Middle Eastern fashion. The bistro’s menu spans a selection of sandwiches, salads and shawarma with Mediterranean mezze mixed in. For traditional fare, opt for the veggie combo plate with hummus, falafel and rice-filled grape leaves, or sample one of the seasoned meats like chicken or lamb served alongside saffron rice. The eatery also easily transitions from a day to night vibe with a shisha lounge serving up a variety of tobacco flavors from cheesecake to coffee.
448 Ocean Dr., South Beach; 305-604-9115
This Mediterranean spot near Lummus Park is a fave for both locals and visitors alike. Offering a full halal menu, diners can order from a selection of appetizers like tabbouleh salad, baba ganoush and falafel, as well as shish kebab entrees served with lamb, chicken or shrimp. Dessert also veers on the classic side with Middle Eastern sweets like baklava and kadayif, a cheese pastry soaked in a sugar syrup. Even better, this spot offers take-out and delivery everywhere from the beach to the city center.
209 11th St., South Beach; 305-674-8384
No need to head to the Middle East when Habibi Diner makes a classic reinterpretation right on Miami Beach. Hummus goes from simple to Beirut-style with hot pepper and parsley, topped with ground beef and pine nuts. “Smoothies” also take on a Lebanese touch with options like fresh chopped fruit salad slathered with honey and ashta, or clotted cream with rose and orange blossom water. If you want to try a bit of everything, order the supreme platter, which comes with grilled chicken and kafta (meatball) skewers, plus grape leaves and fatoush salad on the side.
751 Washington Ave., South Beach; 305-535-1339
Where to Shop
Tarragon Middle East Market
Hassan Mehaydli opened up the narrow market space with his twin brother back in 1994, stocking a mix of deli items like fresh tzatziki sauce and hummus, as well as a selection of halal meats, seasonings and prepared items like spinach pies and kibbeh, or deep-fried balls made with bulgur, ground beef and onions. Here’s where you’ll find some of the harder-to-snag Middle Eastern ingredients to prepare meals at home, as well as a variety of Lebanese lunch dishes for quick homemade to-go fare. The market also stocks a selection of shisha pipes and tobacco, if you’re looking for a local spot to load up.
6623 S. Dixie Hwy, South Miami; 305-663-1121
Oriental Bakery & Grocery
Not far from Brickell, this bakery has a long-standing history in the community, run by a Palestinian couple since the 1970s. Order up your chicken and lamb shish kabob sandwiches and grape leaf or gyro platters from the deli counter, that you can take to go or eat on the spot at one of the long tables near the back. One of the main draws here is the fresh pita—deemed top in town—that’s baked daily and wrapped around falafel and shawarma, still prepared by the family members themselves today.
1760 SW 3rd Ave., Brickell; 305-854-0501
The Middle East Best Food
Before opening up the Coral Way market in 1989, Palestinian-born Ali Aziz was a pastry chef in Jerusalem and ran Oriental Bakery here in Miami. Now the Middle Eastern spot is a staple on Miami’s market scene with its vast selection of grains, beans, oils and spices, as well as the pastry chef’s homemade sweets that include some of the city’s best walnut baklava. Pita-wrapped gyros are filled with tzatziki, tomatoes and your choice of meat, while daily specials include anything from homemade couscous and braised lamb to chicken with lentils and rice.
1715 Coral Way, Coral Way; 305-856-5657
Where to Meet & Pray
Three years ago, the North Miami Islamic Center spent over a million dollars purchasing a three-story building with the plan of housing a mosque and academy that will become a hub for the Muslim community. The community center now serves as a multicultural meeting point for Muslims and converts, as well as non-Muslims who are interested in learning more about the principles of Islam. The center also works as a support system offering counseling for families and youth, in addition to its academy and learning center, which features programs like Qu’ran readings, children’s Sunday school and Arabic language classes. Muslims looking for a community when it comes to religious fasting and feasting can join for sunset iftar during Ramadan or dinner when breaking weekly fasts.
560 NE 129th St., North Miami
One of the oldest and larg
est Islamic centers in South Florida, MCA started back in the 1970s when locals would meet in a makeshift mosque in their apartment for Friday prayers. The group then launched a permanent venue for prayer on Flagler Street, Masjid Miami, and now have a series of spots around town, including Miami Gardens Drive Masjid, that are open to anyone in the Muslim community looking to meet and pray.
4305 NW 183rd St., Miami Gardens; 305-624-5555