The Best Halal Restaurants in London
British-Afghan barbecue, towering Somali chicken and rice, ramen, and more
Manjaros Restaurant Ilford
The family-friendly Manjaros is a quietly celebrated chain of restaurants spotted across the country, serving primarily Afro-Caribbean food, along with South Asian twists on pizza and pasta. Manjaros finally opened in Ilford, to some fanfare, in 2019. The standout dishes are the chicken parmos, breaded and deep-fried chicken cutlets coated with bechamel and melty cheese; try the tandoori chicken or achari keema versions for a real taste of Yorkshire. Come here for comfort over menu coherence.
A five-word description would be: Mile End Halal Full English. Located less than a five-minute walk away from the tube station, Med’s serves up hefty and loosely Mediterranean brunches consisting of dishes such as merguez and halloumi omelettes, “Med’s takos” (pita burritos served with and filled with fries), and a simple yet reliable selection of greasy burgers and square sandwiches. The day to go is on a Sunday, and the item to order is the King’s breakfast, provided no more eating is on the agenda for the rest of the day. Med’s is small, cheap, and beloved by all ages.
Udaya Kerala Restaurant
Udaya has been serving the good people of East Ham homestyle Malabari food for just under 25 years. While the menu is a bit longer than necessary due to the inclusion of popular, if slightly generic, pan-Indian items, the must-order items are as follows: beef fry, netholi fry; kappa (a carb staple made of tapioca and ground coconut), and either a seafood speciality curry or a Kerala style kothu roti. For South Indian holidays like Onam or Vishu, Udaya brings out the sadya: a vegetarian feast served traditionally on a banana leaf.
Turpan Uyghur restaurant
Turpan is a pleasant respite from the hell that has become Tottenham Court Road/New Oxford Street. Located on the somewhat quieter Great Russell Street, Turpan is a Uyghur restaurant serving up the increasingly familiar dishes of “big plate chicken,” leghmen, and lamb polu to proudly savvy Londoners. If the time is available, the usually-less-than 25 minute wait for the pitir manta, hefty, fragrant steamed lamb dumplings is worth it, as are the cumin lamb skewers and cold, marinated beef tongue slices. If the weather is friendly, try sitting outside.
The Flygerians are a south London Nigerian street-food pop-up, currently based at the Peckham Palms from Tuesday to Saturday. From diced beef suya, jollof rice, beans and plantain, to efo riro (here a vegan-friendly version of the classic, verdant stew), the Flygerians have covered a couple of mainstays of Nigerian food, which are all safe to say crowd-pleasing and quite filling.
Ramo Ramen - Soho
Ramo is a stylish Filipino-ramen spot that first opened on Kentish Town Road and has more recently made its way into Soho. A central London feather in the cool-certified Maginhawa group portfolio, Ramo Soho is trendily designed, street-style influenced, hip-hop jamming and most importantly serves up mean bowls of the eponymous noodle soup. Try the octopus kinilaw and bagoong-butter roasted scallop starters, as well as the oxtail kare kare or chicken adobo ramens. It’s hard to find halal ramen in London, and even harder to find a decent variety, so to Ramo’s credit, it’s become the first name that comes to mind. For dessert, one scoop each of milo, calamansi, and guyabano ice cream.
ICCO - "The People's Pizzeria"
Taking up a sizable corner of Goodge Street is the silver-accented American diner-style ICCO. This place might just be the epitome of a “cheap and cheerful” find in central London; famous for the £3.95 margarita, it attracts lost tourists, red-eyed students, and whoever actually lives in Fitzrovia but really it should be just anyone looking for a thin-crust pepperoni and anchovy pizza. For more than 20 years, ICCO has been the halal pizza spot.
Halal Thai food that doesn’t come from an ordinary chain restaurant or a dubious takeaway can be elusive in London. So it’s refreshing to know that Som Saa offers halal chicken, and either halal lamb or beef if requested in advance. The restaurant is spacious, the service is friendly without being overbearing, and the vibe is Thai-accented industrial chic. The whole deep-fried sea bream is one of the best seafood dishes in town, and the southern style chicken skewers are a simple yet highly memorable starter, especially with the tangy cucumber ajaad relish on the side. Those two along with any of the curries and some jasmine rice, and dinner is sorted. Make sure to get some icy milk tea or lychee soda.
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Farzi Cafe is a dark and slick “modern Indian bistro” located in London’s Haymarket, but don’t let the slightly dazzling and clubby interiors distract: the food at Farzi is worth enduring a trek through the West End. Think slow-cooked lamb shoulder balanced on a zarda pulao, tandoori salmon and kadhai hollandaise served on a pav muffin, and grilled chicken tikka sprinkled with [pause] “masala cock scratchings.” While the modern “clubstaurant” can and does often veer towards loud music and poor quality food, Farzi doesn’t fall prey — the ambience is lively without being insufferable, and the food is innovative, if bordering on a bit kitsch.
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“East London’s Oldest Indian Restaurant” opened in 1939, and it has been serving almost the same menu since day one. The laundry list of dishes covers every imaginable variation of a korma, vindaloo, bhuna, jalfrezi, or gosht, and then some. Pretty much any order is a safe bet, be it a couple of grilled kebabs, a chicken madras, and a paneer tikka masala, or go for luxury in the style of a king prawn biryani, some lamb chops, and maybe even four naans. In keeping truer to its name, Halal, which confusingly used to serve alcohol, no longer does as of January this year. Halal Restaurant doesn’t feel dated, only timeless.
Mona Food Chaat House
Chaat might be the pinnacle of South Asia’s street food, affordable vegetarian snacks that can be prepared instantly and eaten on the go, an equaliser adored by all (except those with bad taste). There are a couple of infinite variations of chaat, but Mona Food has a good representative snapshot. Tangy plates of pani puri, action-packed kachori chaat, and spicy samosa usal. Like the best street food spots, Mona is free of frivolity and high on nostalgic value.
Bisha Eritrean Restaurant
Eritrean food has had lots of hallmarks of zeitgeist dining for eternity: fermented flatbreads, gluten-free “ancient” grains, a large variety of small plates... Anyway, Bisha on Holloway Road serves up awaze tibsi, its lamb cubes cooked in a tomato and pepper marinade; a naytsom bebiaynetu platter served with injera, and the classic shiro, a luxuriously thick chickpea stew. Each platter of injera and its accompaniments is more vibrant than the restaurant’s interiors, about a hundred times over.
If Londoners need two reasons to give Mayfair restaurants another go, BiBi is both of them. The patron chef Chet Sharma has crafted a menu that spans Afghanistan to Assam and Kashmir to Kanyakumari, and the food is sufficiently modern, but not so much so that it is rendered unrecognisable from its roots. Dishes cooked on the sigree have a smoky taste that is similar to but still distinct from the raw heat of a tandoor, the green chilli turbot for example showcases how seafood responds to the controlled heat of the indoor grill. The Orkney scallop served with blood orange and nimbu paani is a brilliant way to present raw shellfish, and have a saffron and white chocolate kulfi for dessert while marvelling at the luscious interior. The chicken at BiBi is halal.
Bake Street’s roving selection of menu items generates a fevered hype among London’s if-you-know-you-know crowd. Think crème brûlée cookies, kimcheese samosas, smash burgers, biryani weekend specials, tacos, and an ice-cream rotation that sells-out quicker than diners can blink (or queue). The weekend menu of specials rotates so regularly and inventively that coming back is always a good idea.
Al Kahf is a Whitechapel Somali spot serving up big plates of lamb haneed as well as beef and chicken sqaar (beef and chicken cubes marinated in Somali spices.) But the main draw is the hulking bariis iskukaris, lamb shoulder falling off the bone over a rich rice jewelled with dried fruits. Make sure to ask for basbaas, eye-watering homemade Somali hot sauce made out of green chillies, to cut through all the richness of the rice and meat.
Sidi Bou London
Sidi Bou is a turquoise accented Tunisian restaurant, takeaway, and deli, located just outside of Ealing Broadway station. There aren’t too many Tunisian restaurants in London, which is a real shame considering the richness of the country’s cuisine. Despite being named after a seaside town, some of the best dishes here are made with lamb: the jilbana, a slow-cooked stew made with peas and artichoke is a real standout. Sidi Bou has dine in on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
The Best Broasted
The “broasting” technique might have been invented in America’s pressure fryer dreams, but it was perfected in the Arab cafeteria. The Syrian-owned and run Best Broasted is a great spot for a fuss-free iftar and/or suhoor, serving up some of London’s best shawarmas and, per the name, broasted chicken, craggy from the broasting and accompanied by crisp, but fluffy potatoes and toum.
Normah’s, run by Normah Abd Hamid out of Queensway Market, draws plaudits for its exceptional roti canai, assam pedas, laksa, and nasi lemak chicken. All of Normah’s dishes work better when she or her nephew are convinced to cook them “pedas” — spicy.
Eating at Putera Puteri is a joy, where everything tastes like it was cooked with familial attention to detail. Classic hawker items like the nasi lemak, nasi goreng kampung, and char kuey teow are all simply wonderful. Pair them with a cooling sirap bandung, for which ice-cold milk is mixed with rose syrup, or an iced teh tarik, for a cold version of Malaysia’s famous pulled milk tea.
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Ishbilia Lebanese Restaurant
While the hot and cold Lebanese mezzes make great starters (the habrah nayeh, lamb tartare, in particular), really what diners should be ordering at Ishbilia is anything that contains grilled minced lamb: the dishes with the word “kafta” in the title. While there are quite a few Halal-friendly options in this area, Ishbilia comfortably holds its own.
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Berenjak styles itself as a kababi, an Irani “hole-in-the-wall eatery” serving up grilled meats, as typically seen across the Muslim world. This moody, dimly lit spot has some stunning starters (particularly the kashk e bademjoon, a smoky walnut and aubergine dip), but the thing to come for will be the fatty koobideh skewers.
Lahori Nihaari London
Lahori Nihaari is a well-known Pakistani restaurant located in the Upton Park area of East London. This restaurant, which has been around for about ten years, serves crowd-pleasing hits such as mutton karahi and kulcha naans, as well as more marmite-esque dishes such as the paiye, the Peshawarai lamb trotter stew. The classic Karachi dish called haleem, a thick, sticky, and hearty slow-cooked barley and lamb dish, is a must order, and of course, some nihaari.
Cue Point Ltd @ The Chiswick Pavilion Cricket Club
Cue Point is a Chiswick-based carnivore sanctuary; a self-styled British Afghan fusion barbecue joint that serves up dripping beef briskets, and Guy Fieri-esque lamb chops along with some honourable veggie sides offering respite in between meaty mouthfuls. The head chef, Joshua Moroney, has brought a plethora of international barbecue techniques and combined it with the Afghan heritage of Cue Point’s director, Mursal Saiq — creating a pithy menu full of slump-off-the-bone cuts. All the food at Cue Point is halal, and finish-at-home meal kits can be ordered directly from its website.
Good Friend Chicken
Some of the best things served at Good Friend Chicken (GFC?), are not actually made of chicken. The deep-fried lotus roots are the perfect balance of crispy and chewy; battered squid covered in plum powder are like mini umami-bombs ; the steaming tofu cubes are the perfect vehicle for the 10+ seasonings one can choose to coat their frie(n)d goodies with. Okay, all the chicken is famously unctuous too. Everything at GFC is halal.
Koya is celebrating ten years in London this year, but this dearly beloved udon-specialist has always been mature for its age. Koya lets diners choose between two styles of udon, the atsu-atsu style — hot udon served with hot broth — and hiyashi style — cold udon with cold sauce to pour over. The chewy, thick noodles are perfect with some crunchy vegetable or massive pieces of prawn tempura (available by the piece when ordering udon). The meat at Koya is not halal, but there are plenty of pescatarian and vegetarian options, like the salty smoked mackerel with greens or mixed seaweed udon bowl to name a few.