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
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
Highlighting the dessert
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
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.