Growing up, Khalil Nayl struggled to find take-out options that aligned with the values of his Muslim faith.
Nayl and other practitioners of Islam eat halal food as part of their faith — halal being an Arabic word that translates to “permissible.”
Various halal joints have cropped up across the island in recent years, but Nayl’s new venture, Jalapeño Shack in Huntington, strays away from such traditional offerings as lamb, chicken and falafel platters and gyros. Jalapeño Shack, located at 340 W. Jericho Turnpike, serves up Tex-Mex style dishes for those looking for variety in their halal-friendly take out.
Ordering is similar to other halal eateries, including Shah’s Halal locations, which are owned by relatives of Nayl. Customers choose their base from a list that includes tacos, nachos, quesadillas and burritos before choosing their protein in the form of steak, chicken of ground beef. They can also stick to just veggies.
Nayl said he purchases his meat and poultry from suppliers who guarantee their products are produced to halal standards, such as Hauppauge-based Hal&Al Meats and Provisions, Inc. Halal standards include a requirement that the meat comes from animals slaughtered in the proper sanitary manner, in accordance to Islamic law as defined in the Quran.
The Tex-Mex flair shines comes by way of such toppings as nacho cheese, black beans, queso, pico de gallo, chile corn salsa and jalapeño peppers.
“I wanted to try types of food from different backgrounds, but I couldn’t. So I started making it at home with the family,” Nayl said. “It’s been in the back of my mind to do halal Mexican for a long time.”
The new restaurant’s owner said the community response has been great, especially regarding his nacho bowls and specialty Shack Fries, which are loaded up with nacho cheese, grilled onions and special sauce.
Nayl said he hopes to become a new key fixture in town and partake in community events in the coming months as the burgeoning restaurant stabilizes.
“We’re going to join the chamber and we’re looking forward to getting involved in the Huntington community,” he said.