I have made iftar at many different Masjids over the years in many different cities. The crowds that you see at the various Masjids differs depending on what kind of a Masjid you are at.
For sake of simplicity I will divide the Masjids that I have made iftar at over the years into these categories; the African-American Sunni Masjid, the WD Masjid, the bourgeois immigrant Masjid and the ghetto immigrant Masjid. Each Masjid has its own unique method, flavor and cuisine but some things are usually in common. For example; most will have a large number of single brothers who cant cook and don’t have anyone to cook for them, poor Muslims who cant have a good meal at home and those Muslims who will at a big meal at the Masjid and then go home and throw down at the dinner table. Of course at some Masjids you always have the homeless brothers who come in and are like “Assalamu alaikum akhee where is the food.”
The African-American Sunni Masjid can be anything from a hardcore Salafi Masjid like in East Orange, NJ or Germantown Philly to a Jamil al-Amin joint to a place like Masjid at-Taqwa in Brooklyn where Siraj Wahaj is imam. At these Masjids stuff is usually more regimented and you better not go for seconds before your turn or the brothers from security will be ready to put in work. You can find a lot of fried fish and chicken usually with some form of bread and some spaghetti. Some Masjids have more than others; one poor Masjid I was at brothers only had cinnamon rolls and Ramen noodles (what they call Crackhead Soup in prison). One other Masjid only had chicken McNuggets and Snapple. The brothers and sisters will be completely separate here.
WD Masjids (those that follow the leadership of Imam WD Mohammed) tend to have the same kind of cuisines just with more greens. You always have some old pioneer sisters cooking in the back and you listen to the brothers coming in and swapping stories about Saviors Day in 1972. But when it comes time to pass the drinks these brothers always have the all-natural fruit drinks on hand like Omar on the Nile and that ilk. Whereas in the black Sunni Masjid you will sit on the floor at the WD joint you will sit at a table and there is a good chance you will have to pay for the plate and that the proceeds will go to the building fund. There will be free mixing of brothers and sisters and you may even get a sister run up to you and give you a hug or slide you the digits on the low.
If you go to the bourgeois immigrant Masjid you will find that iftar is given out in a very organized fashion ( unless you are at Dar al Hijrah in VA where there is a buffalo stampede after the Maghrib Tasleem), but the South Asian Masjids tend to be the most organized. You got your iftar samossa, dates and whatever else they will give you in a nice little box with a plastic spoon or fork and some bottled water. It feels more like Starbucks than a Masjid. You pray Maghrib at this Masjid and the imam usually recites two of the last ten surahs (the shortest) and then it is time to grub. You get a nice plate of food, that will include some salad, and it will be quite tasty; the only thing on the cheap is the ghetto soda they get which depending where you live could say Vess, C-Town, Tropical Fantasy or Bubbas on the side. You will notice that most of the Masjid leaders, or wealthy Muslims who sit on the shura and probably run it is a social club, are nowhere to be found as they are retreating to their McMansions for a big meal. You can expect meat and rice every night and if it is a South Asian place expect food that could heat up Alaska. The sisters are normally close to the brothers and if you are here, like I have been in the past, you may have some single brother sitting next to you and tapping your shoulder every three minute and asking you to check out the sister walking by. “Is she married brother?” Hijabs will vary at these places but you will see a lot of the Benazir Bhutto convertible hijab. Now of this is an Arab run Masjid then there will probably be a greater separation of the sexes.
The ghetto immigrant Masjid has a lot of variance. One Masjid that is attended by refugees primarily used to have dates and crackers for iftar. BTW, I’m not talking about gourmet crackers from some yuppie store; I’m talking about those big boxes of crackers you can get for 50 cents. Some of these Masjids are the recipients of a lot of saddaqa during Ramadan so you always have a lot of meat as wealthy doctors drop off half a farm worth of meat as a Ramadan ritual. Here it is hardcore and you may not be able to find any eating utensils as brothers go straight Sunnah and eat with their hands. I have also noticed that there is a shortage of beverages at these places and that most of the brothers don’t drink anything with their food so I usually bring some soda or juice for everyone to drink. At these Masjids food will be good like twice a week, when the rice and vegetables are fresh, but then you will get like two or three days in a row of stale rice.