Ali Baba is a new Mediterranean eatery located in the hot spot that used to house Moe's and Jimmy Guaco's. I read a post on Rosie's Kitchen about Ali Baba, and my natural affinity for the food of the Middle East drew me to the new campus eatery.
The decor and the set-up of the restaurant are similar to that of Jimmy Guaco's. Ali Baba is owned by one of the original proprietor's of Pita Hut, another popular Northside Mediterranean spot.
Like other Mediterranean establishments, Ali Baba features vegetarian options in spades. The appetizer options include the traditional (hummus, baba ghanouj and grape leaves) and the more interesting (mama ghanouj, which is a zucchini dip, fool m'damas, which is a cooked bean salad, and fried eggplant and cauliflower salads). Many other options, such as tabbouleh, are also available as sides.
The hummus was excellent. The smoothly mashed chickpeas are drenched with olive oil and harissa, and then sprinkled with mint and whole chickpeas. The hummus had a nice hint of garlic, and the harissa adds a hint of spiciness that makes the dip sing.
The falafel sandwich is vaguely reminiscent of the falafel sandwich at Pita Hut. The pita is cut at the top, and then stuffed with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and disks of deep-fried chickpeas. It is lightly dressed in tahini. If possible, try to get some of the harissa to add a little fire to the sandwich. The fries were fairly average.
It looks as if there are plans for a salad bar. I was unable to tell if there is an alcohol license. There was a tasty-looking case of rice pudding and baklava avaiable to quell the after-dinner sweet tooth.
Prices are fairly inexpensive. Ali Baba is open Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 12 am, Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 4 am, and Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm.