Baba offers taste of Lebanon
By Richard N. Velotta
/ STAFF WRITER
it comes to international fare, Las Vegas has a good variety of
Italian, Mexican and Asian cuisine for a business lunch.
But when it comes
to food from the Middle East, there isn’t quite as much with a smattering
of Persian and Iranian locations available around the valley.
Now Henderson has
the newest entry in the market that is quickly growing in popularity
by word of mouth.
Ali Baba, which specializes
in Lebanese food, opened its doors about a month ago, and owner
Maurice Sweiss said community buzz has gotten so strong that tourists
are seeking out the restaurant and businesspeople are drawn by the
authenticity of the food.
“Nothing comes out
of a can,” Sweiss said. “We pride ourselves in offering the best
ingredients of any restaurant at extremely reasonable prices. There’s
no lard, no chemicals, no preservatives. It’s original Arabic food.”
The traditional food,
prepared by three Lebanese chefs, is served in a traditional style
called “mezza,” which is a mix of cold and hot appetizers. Among
the most popular offerings are hummus and tabouli (which appear
on the menu with their more traditional Middle Eastern spellings)
and baba ghanouj, stuffed grape leaves, kebbeh balls, falafel, fatayer
and lahim bei ajin.
Fear not: The dishes
and their ingredients are well described on the menu. For example,
baba ghanouj is a char-grilled eggplant dip with cream of sesame
oil, fresh garlic and lemon juice; fatayer is fresh spinach with
onions, pine nuts, summak, lemon juice and olive oil in a freshly
baked pastry shell.
Most of the cold and
|Ali Baba owners Hilda
and Maurice Sweiss enjoy lunch at their recently opened Lebanese
restaurant off of Eastern Avenue. Below, a variety of traditional
Lebanese dishes is shown. PHOTOS BY
TIFFANY BROWN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
range from $6 to $8, but a selection of several dishes
is offered as mezza (seven items for $25) and grand mezza (12 items
restaurant offers takeout and catering and will deliver on orders
of more than $40. After 7 p.m., there’s live music and belly
dancing and during the lunch hour, Middle Eastern music videos
are shown on several television monitors throughout the restaurant.
Sweiss said at night, Ali Baba’s 240 seats have been filling,
making lunch a good option to try something new.
red lentil soup and a soup du jour are offered daily, and
the cold appetizer list includes some salads and vegetable
sandwiches, served on pita bread, range from $7 to $9 and
are served with french fries. Selections include a beef shish-kabob
sandwich with grilled beef, seasoned onions, tomatoes, pickles
and garlic and a falafel sandwich, a vegetarian dish with
chickpeas, fava beans and spices, deep fried in vegetable
oil and topped with tahini sauce, tomatoes and a pickle.
may favor the entrees that include a selection of dishes with
chicken and quail, beef, lamb and seafood with prices ranging
from $12 to $22. A kabob combo for $40 serves two and offers
a skewer each of chicken, kafta, beef and lamb and includes
a soup or salad and a side of hummus.
The dessert menu ranges from $6 to $8 and includes Lebanese
rice pudding and ice cream and knafeh, a homemade roasted dough
stuffed with cheese, baked and sweetened with a special syrup.
Ali Baba is easily
accessible at Eastern Avenue and Pebble Road, just north of
Interstate 215. Because it’s at the Colonnade Square shopping
center, there’s plenty of parking.