The Mediterranean meets downtown

Opened 14 years ago, Ali Baba's is located on Broad Street and serves a variety of Mediterranean inspired food items. Photo by Thaddeus Morgan

There are plenty of places that students can eat on Broad Street that can make your mouth water, but Ali Baba’s is the Ali Baba’s Turkish and Mediterranean Delights offer gyros, hummous, baklava and notable falafel for students to enjoy.

“We won best falafel in Atlanta for four years in a row,” Timothy Atenda, an employee at Ali Baba’s said. “If you want some of our best stuff you should try the Turkish food, but we have other things too, like Greek flavors and American flavors.”

Everything in Ali Baba’s is made fresh that day, according to Atenda. So for all you traditional fast food lovers that like your food thrown out of a window, this is not the restaurant for you.

However, Ali Baba’s was originally started in order to give the community options in terms of foods that are available, instead of having to rely on the same burger and fries combination.

“We opened fourteen years ago in this location,” Atenda said. “We wanted to give the community the opportunity to eat quality, healthy food, with an entrée and a side for less than seven dollars for students.”

Ali Baba’s is still growing, with another location in Little 5 Points and plans to incorporate catering and delivery services next year.

But if you go to the Ali Baba’s on Broad Street between classes, don’t be surprised if you are greeted with smiles and friendly exchanges. They appreciate the student customers they have by providing discounts to students for certain entrées.

“Without Georgia State students, there is no Ali Baba’s,” Atenda said. “About 80 percent of our customers are returning customers, and that’s because we treat people well.”

The menu is about 70 percent vegetarian, according to Atenda, and three different types of meat are offered in gyros: lamb, chicken and fish.

“It’s alright but there wasn’t enough meat for me,” Darius Sutton, a senior philosophy major said when asked his thoughts about the food served at Ali Baba’s. “Other than that it was good though.”

Senior journalism major Tara Siddiq had a differing opinion, saying that she enjoyed the variety of food offered at Ali Baba’s, including the meat and vegetarian selections.

“The falafel at Ali Baba’s is so good,” she said. “So are the hummous and the grape leaves. It’s all good.”
There is not anywhere to eat inside the restaurant so students can take their meals to go or sit at the tables set up outside and enjoy the scenery.

The food at Ali Baba’s provides for a specific experience with specific dishes. They offer students food with strong flavors and plenty of options, including specials that change every week. But if you’re not sure that this food is right for you, there’s only one way to find out.

“We believe the food should speak for itself,” Atenda said. “So students should try it and see what they think.”

Published December 5, 2011 in The Signal: “The Mediterranean meets downtown”

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