By: Alina Buzgar, News & Features Editor
Ali-Baba might just be the Glendale synonym for great Middle Eastern food. A family-owned and family-run restaurant, Ali Baba’s brings new and exotic flavors to the Glendale community serving wholesome and deliciously generous platters of Middle Eastern dishes.
Located on 35th Ave and Greenway, Ali Baba’s, is a great place to spend the afternoon with friends. The décor, while simple, has original furniture pieces and exquisite decorations from Middle East and Northern Africa so you might enjoy walking around the place because will discover some hidden treasures. We sat down with Muhammad (Mo), the owner’s son and the chef of the restaurant, to find out more about Ali Baba’s.
Das Tor: Why did you decide to open a restaurant?
Mo: Cooking is a passion of mine so we took the opportunity when the space opened up five years ago next to the grocery store we owned (that we now sold) and opened the restaurant. I actually didn’t go to culinary school so everything you eat here today I learned from my mother and my grandmother.
Das Tor: This is a family business. Who else in the family works here?
Mo: Well, there is my dad, my mom and my sister as well.
Das Tor: What was on the menu for us today?
Mo: We started you off with appetizer servings of hummus plates and baba-ghanoush paired with pita bread and pickles. After that, platters of chicken shawerma fries and kebob mixture of lamb chunks, beef skilled scours, and chicken kebobs assorted on a bed of basmati rice. The final add-ons were the Ali Baba sauce, the yogurt, and some salad.
Das Tor: The chicken shawerma-fries were delicious. You mentioned it was a specialty. How did you come up with it?
Mo: I guess it is a representation of myself really. I was born here in Phoenix so I grew up to love both American and Middle Eastern food. That’s how I came up with shawerma-fries. I think it’s a good combination of both worlds.
Das Tor: What are your plans for the future?
Mo: Our menu changes depending on what our customers like. I want to continue to expand and change the menu and open another one in a different location as well. There is a big community of Middle Eastern nationals here and more Americans are discovering they like our cuisine as well.
I would like to continue what we’ve started with eat24. Now anyone can go online and place an order and get their food delivered. Also, we catered Thunderbird in the past so would like to do that in the future as well.
Mohammed A.Z. (MBA ’15, Qatar) is a frequent customer: “Ali Baba’s is a place that helps me think of home when I walk in. Not necessarily my home but a home nonetheless. The simple look and feel, warm decor elements, casual sincerity of the staff and fresh, flavorful food and presentation bring me back to a place of comfort. It feels like a retreat to be your uninhibited and normal self. With a taste of their home made hummus, warm Ceylon tea, and fresh, puffy and soft oven baked pita bread and I am sunk into both nostalgia as well as my seat. Even for a little guilty pleasure, I ask for their home chicken shawerma fries coated with sprays of their fresh garlic and oregano sauce. And for a real treat and surprise the owner’s wife prepares a home traditional dish to serve her customers and I become filled with gratitude and appreciation.”