There are two counters, both very busy, at Alsalam. The one in the far back is a halal meat market, but the one in the front has a nice selection of hot sandwiches and plates for takeaway, and a few stools for eating along the wall. The guys who run the place usually have plenty to do, but are friendly to everyone, as most people walk in with a polite "As-Salamu Alaykum."
The place also has some random groceries and a nice olive bar for customers. When the place is busy, you have to be aggressive and keep your place at the counter, using elbows if necessary. Well, maybe not that aggressive, but do speak up or others will order before you.
Your sandwiches appear the same on the outside.
The place to start here is with the amazing schwarma sandwich ($4, below), with chicken cut from the rotating wheel that is front and center of the kitchen. The crispy seared parts of the juicy chicken and the absolutely delightful garlic sauce make for an incredible experience. I was instantly asking questions about the sauce's availability and roots, and indeed the house-made stuff can be bought for $2.50 for a half-pound.
Come early in the afternoon for this, as they tend to run out in later hours, but don't fret if this happens. The kebab sandwiches are very good as well. The beef shish kebab ($4, below) uses the garlic sauce as well and is tightly wrapped in a pita and grilled to make it slightly crispy. The pickle is the strongest taste in the wrap, and the beef tends toward the tough side.
Another nice addition, and a really good deal, are the pies ($1.75, lamb below). The tastes are more subtle, and alone would be boring, but it does create a counterpoint to the sandwiches.
There is a steam table as well, but I did not see many people going for that. It does not look the most appealing anyways, so stick to the things that are cooked to order.
When you eat your meal at the counter, you really feel like you are traveling in the Middle East, as women in headscarves buying groceries and local men eating lunch are the almost exclusive clientele of this place. It's fun to watch it all go by.
7206 5th Avenue, Brooklyn NY