For Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a time to reflect, reset and focus on being grateful.
For 30 days during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, it’s traditional to abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. The fast is seen as an act of self-restraint and obedience that is meant to increase faith, build compassion for those in need, inspire patience and bring believers closer to Allah and the Muslim community.
Despite the discipline required to fast all day, Ramadan is by no means a somber month. People across metro Phoenix celebrate in a variety of ways—gathering at local mosques, cooking traditional foods and taking time to give back through community service. For many, every night feels like a celebration as fasts are broken with the iftar meal.
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In many Middle Eastern and Islamic countries, life takes on a different rhythm as restaurants close during the day and then stay open all night, offering both Iftar and suhoor, the last meal before sunrise. People gather with friends at coffee shops after evening prayers, take turns hosting iftar at home and go out to enjoy lavish iftar buffets at high-end hotels and restaurants.
Here in the Valley, some halal restaurants offer iftar meals and the opportunity to enjoy communing during Ramadan.
“We’ve been doing the buffet every year since day one, and it was the only way, at least in Arizona, that you could get the Ramadan spirit,” Noor Alsadi, owner of Princess Mediterranean Restaurant & Market, told The Republic in 2021. “When you see everyone just sitting there and not eating, it’s not so bad.”
This year, Ramadan will be observed from the night of March 22 and end with the celebration of Eid al Fitr on Thursday, April 20 (subject to the sighting of the moon). During this time, some restaurant hours will be adjusted to allow diners to enjoy leisurely gatherings late into the night. Other restaurant owners will offer a single meal at sunset. And one popular buffet will remain open late enough to serve both iftar and suhoor.
Here’s your guide to halal restaurants in metro Phoenix offering iftar during Ramadan 2023.
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Golden Restaurant & Bakery
Golden Restaurant is a popular destination for freshly baked Levantine specialties like zaatar and cheese man’ousheh, falafel sandwiches stuffed with fried cauliflower, eggplant and hardboiled eggs and a delicious Lebanese-style chicken shawarma wrap.
During Ramadan, from 6 to 8 p.m. the regular menu will not be available. Instead, the restaurant will offer a special iftar meal. In past years, one set included dates, lentil soup, fried samboosak, lamb and okra stew and vermicelli-studded rice. The menus for the week are posted on the restaurant’s social media each Saturday, and the main dishes usually involve a grilled or roasted meat and rice. Tea and water are available free of charge.
After 8 p.m. the regular menu will be available until 2 a.m., making it a good place to pick up suhoor to-go.
Don’t miss: The lavish iftar meal sets, which include enough food to share or to save for suhoor.
Ramadan hours: Open daily 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., iftar meal available from 6 to 8 p.m. Closed on Fridays.
Details: 1849 N. Scottsdale Road, Tempe. 480-656-4405, goldenrestaurantbakery.com.
Mandi House is the absolute best place in Arizona for Khaleeji cuisine. The Yemeni restaurant makes outstanding spiced rice platters from the Arabian Gulf, like Yemeni mandi (baked), muthbi (grilled), and haneeth (slow roasted) meat or chicken served over massive platters of basmati and kabsa, a Saudi favorite made by cooking meat or chicken with rice to infuse the grains with the savory flavor.
During Ramadan, the restaurant presents a massive buffet of Middle Eastern specialties, including a variety of rice dishes. Mandi House will stay open until 4 a.m., making it the only place where you can also enjoy suhoor.
Don’t miss: Meat sambusa, a fried triangular pastry filled with spicy ground lamb and a few potatoes. It’s an East African take on the South Asian samosa, which was introduced to Southern Arabia by 19th-century Indian spice traders.
Ramadan hours: Daily 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.; the buffet opens at sunset.
Details: 1639 E. Apache Boulevard, Tempe. 480-659-4751, mandi-house-llc.business.site.
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Mijana East in Tempe is a longstanding Lebanese restaurant that serves classics like hummus, kibbeh nayeh (a Middle Eastern beef tartar), cinnamon laced makanek sausages and their spicier counterpart, sujuk and arayess, a meat-filled pita fried crisp and cut into wedges. For main dishes, they make all manner of grilled meats, kebabs and grilled quail, which is a popular late-night Middle Eastern snack that’s hard to find in the Valley.
During Ramadan the restaurant will offer a $30 set menu for iftar, which will include salad, dips, like hummus, and grilled meats and kebabs. Call ahead to find out what’s on the menu for the night.
Don’t miss: The iftar set menu, which will change throughout the month.
Ramadan hours: Iftar begins at sundown. The restaurant is open until 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, until 1 am. on Fridays and until 2 a.m. on Saturdays.
Details: 1290 N. Scottsdale Road, Tempe. 480-829-4959, mijana-east.com.
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Chef and owner Mamoona Hilal and her husband have offered an iftar buffet in years past, but in the interest of keeping customers safe and healthy, this year she is offering a plated, all-inclusive iftar meal for $19.99 per adult and $11.99 per child. She specializes in the foods of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan like mantoo dumplings, mixed kebab grills and Ramadan favorite haleem, a savory wheat porridge she makes using goat and lentils. Call ahead to find out what will be offered on the nightly set menu.
Don’t miss: Sweet, creamy chai tea to end the meal.
Ramadan hours: Takeout only from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open daily5 to 8 p.m. with iftar served at sundown.
Details: 1638 N. 40th St., Phoenix. 602-275-1815, hilalgrill.com.
Princess Market Mediterranean Deli and Restaurant
This popular Ramadan gathering place is bringing back its iftar buffet for 2023. From Friday to Sunday, the Alsadi family will lay out a spread of popular Middle Eastern and South Asian dishes as part of the largest iftar buffet in the Valley. They told The Republic that one of the main draws is the specialty desserts, like baklava and knafa, a Levantine treat made with cheese topped with fried vermicelli noodles or shredded filo dough and soaked in syrup. Follow the restaurant on social media for specials and updates on hours.
Don’t miss: Jordanian atayef, miniature pancakes filled with walnuts and simple syrup.
Ramadan hours: Market open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; iftar buffet available Friday to Sunday from sundown until 8 p.m.
Details: 2620 W. Broadway Road, Mesa. 480-894-1499, princessmarket.com.
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YS Mandi Restaurant
Not to be confused with Mandi House, YS Mandi does not offer a buffet, but it will offer special Yemeni dishes each night throughout the month and adjust hours to stay open late. The restaurant is popular with students at nearby Arizona State University looking for homestyle Gulf Arab cuisine. It specializes in rice dishes, like the namesake mandi, made with slow-roasted chicken, lamb or goat.
Don’t miss: Masoub, a Yemeni bread pudding made with torn flatbread, banana, honey and cream garnished with sesame seeds.
Ramadan hours: Daily 2 p.m. to midnight.
Details: 933 E. University Drive, #112, Tempe. 602-242-4656, on Facebook as YS Restaurant.
Hana House is a north Phoenix Palestinian restaurant where you can find a host of popular Levantine dishes like fatoush salad, hummus, babaghanoush, beef kofteh kebab and roasted lamb shank over rice.
They will offer an iftar buffet for $24.99 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during Ramadan. Watch the restaurant’s Facebook page for updated menus and specials throughout the month. The restaurant books up with private parties, so guests should call ahead to make sure it’s open to the public prior to coming in.
Don’t miss: The Hana mixed appetizer 1, which comes with hummus, babaghanoush, falafel, kibbe and cheese borek.
Ramadan hours: Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; open until 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Details: 2350 W. Northern Ave., Phoenix. 602-354-3416, hanahouserestaurant.com.
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Are we missing your favorite iftar? Let us know!
Reach dining reporter Endia Fontanez at [email protected]. Follow @EndiaFontanez on Twitter.
Or reach the food, dining and nightlife editor Felicia Campbell at [email protected]. Follow her @hungryfi on Twitter and Instagram.
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