Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ali Baba just keeps getting better

Posted By on Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 7:28 PM

image

Because I'm always trying new places, I sometimes lose track of old favorites. Such is the case with Ali Baba, the small (but well-stocked) halal grocery and restaurant on University. I remembered Ali Baba as being good, solid Middle Eastern food — not the greatest in town, but certainly not the worst, with service that was passable. Going back into the place after a year or so away has made me rethink my position on the place, as their menu has expanded, the cooking has gotten even better, and the service was warm and friendly despite a high volume of foot traffic.

Because it had been so long since my last visit, I went for the Half and Half, a massive plate piled with chicken shawarma, tzatziki-topped beef and lamb gyros, a green salad, and a pile of delightful marinated onions. The shaved beef/lamb mixture was far juicer than I recalled, and the rich, strong taste of the meat was complemented well by the tangy tzatziki. The shawarma was subtly flavored, and I noticed that the Ali Baba crew had skewered a whole orange on top of the rotating chicken, and inspired move that gave every bite a slight citrus sweetness that I found very compelling. Of particular note are both the yogurt that Ali Baba is using, which seemed to my taste to be fresh and homemade, and the pita bread, which is unlike any pita in town. This bread is thin and soft, and while it's a little tougher than other pita I've had, the beauty of this bread is that it wraps around the food almost like a tortilla, holding all those succulent ingredients in without ruining the bread-to-meat ratio.

Ali Baba has all the side dishes you'd expect from a Middle Eastern restaurant: hummus, baba ghanouj, briyani rice — but it's the falafel that should not be missed. While small, these three-for-a-dollar treats are loaded with flavor and fried to golden-brown perfection, which my dining companion referred to as "perfect little flavorful hushpuppies." In addition to the standards, Ali Baba also boasts items like the Liver Kabab that have me dying to go back for more. Portions are massive, and the menu is so friendly to mixing and matching that a hungry person might have trouble deciding how to build the perfect meal. In addition, people wanting to cook at home should feel right at home in the grocery section, where fresh meat, spices, noodles, and different kinds of rice await the curious or professional cook.

Ali Baba isn't exactly a secret in Little Rock, but I tend to forget it sometimes, tucked away across from UALR behind a Subway. I'm always excited to find that a restaurant I haven't visited in some time has not only maintained their quality, but actually gotten better — and Ali Baba has certainly done that.

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Michael Roberts

  • Little Rock Margarita Festival is coming May 4

    Cinco de Mayo. The holiday in which tequila is consumed in the United States in honor of a Mexican holiday that is not as widely celebrated in Mexico.
    • Mar 10, 2017
  • Arkansas Times Recommends: Indian Grocers, nerdcore documentaries, "Pepe the Frog" explainers, Anne Carson and more

    Arkansas Times Recommends is a series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying this week.
    • Oct 21, 2016
  • Arkansas Times Recommends: The Think Edition

    Arkansas Times Recommends is a series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying this week. In anticipation of Arkansas Times' Festival of Ideas this Saturday at the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, we recommend things that make us think.
    • Sep 23, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • A sneak preview of Fourquarter Bar in Argenta

    A look at Fourquarter Bar in Argenta, brought to you by the folks behind Midtown Billiards. Beer, barbecue and killer cocktails abound!
    • Feb 23, 2016
  • Coming Monday: Little Rock Black Restaurant Week

    MoTown Monday is Ceci's Chicken and Waffles. Tasty Tuesday is Sims BBQ and Brewster's Soul Food Cafe. Wing Wednesday is Chicken King and Chicken Wangs. Soul Food Thursday is Lindsey's BBQ and Hospitality House and Food Truck Festival Friday is @station801. It's the first Black Restaurant Week.
    • Mar 8, 2017

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • Hutchinson lobbyist moves to Teacher Retirement System

    Rett Hatcher, director of legislative affairs for Gov. Asa Hutchinson, has left the governor's staff to go to work Wednesday as deputy director of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System.
  • Obamascare

    Republicans at long last may be about to see their most fervent wishes and wildest predictions materialize — millions of people losing their medical and hospital coverage, unaffordable insurance, lost jobs, a Medicare financial crisis, mushrooming federal budget deficits and fiscal crises across state governments.
  • Megyn vs. Alex

    As vigorously hyped broadcast events go, Megyn Kelly's televised confrontation with internet conspiracy cultist Alex Jones proved something of a dud.
  • Monkey wrenches

    Junior is 17 now, and shows no interest in driving, or even taking the driving test. It's got his Old Man a little concerned, and not just because we're running a car service for one these days.

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation