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The valley is becoming a Mecca for Mediterranean food and Ali Baba Authentic Lebanese Cuisine (688-4182) is one of the newer and better ones on the block.

Lebanese food is popular because, besides being good, it is healthy. The menu is based on assorted vegetables, wheat and dairy products, extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, and a unique blend of traditional herbs and spices.

“Nothing comes out of a can,” said owner Maurice Sweiss. “We offer the best ingredients and I assure you it is original Arabic food. I know because all three of my chefs are Lebanese.”

The food in this beautiful 240-seat restaurant (colorful murals and handmade Tiffany lamps) is served in the traditional “mezza-style,” a mix of cold and hot appetizers. Among the more popular offerings are hummus, tabouli, baba ghanouj (char-grilled eggplant dip with cream of sesame oil, fresh garlic, lemon juice), stuffed grape leaves, kebbeh balls, falafel, fatayer (spinach pie), makdous (pickled eggplant stuffed with walnuts and garlic), and lahim bei ajin (ground beef with onion, tomatoes and

pine nuts in a baked pastry shell).

Chicken, kafta, beef, and lamb kabobs are marinated and the most popular is the combo that includes one skewer of each. It serves two and comes with a choice of soup or salad and a side of hummus. One of the soups is the traditional red lentil soup with sautéed onions in extra virgin olive oil.

There are seven sandwiches served on pita bread with French fries. Selections include beef shish-kabob with grilled beef, seasoned onions, tomatoes, pickles and garlic; shawarma, a combination of seasoned lamb and beef; and the vegetarian falafel with chickpeas, fava beans and spices, topped with tahini sauce, tomatoes and a pickle.

Highlighting the dessert menu are Lebanese rice pudding, baklava, ice cream, knafeh (roasted dough stuffed with cheese, baked and sweetened with a special syrup), and homemade buttery cookies called mamoul that are filled with a choice of dates, pistachios or walnuts.

Ali Baba is at 8826 South Eastern Ave. at East Pebble Road next to the Colonnade Cinemas. It opens daily at 11 a.m. There is live music and belly dancing after 7 p.m.

Source: Las Vegas Israelite | March 30, 2007 Page 36

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