For a falafel fan like me, Healthy Ali Baba restaurant in Claremont hits the spot. Located next to Sushi Cruise on Foothill Boulevard, this Mediterranean eatery offers all the main dishes that make the Middle East famous for cuisine.
Healthy Ali Baba is a small restaurant featuring food with big flavor. The dark wooden chairs and tables are inviting, and the eclectic lighting is composed of different styles of hanging lamps. Mediterranean music plays over the speaker as a server dressed in black pants and a nice shirt greeted me.
The restaurant was opened in March by a man who cooks for the king of Saudi Arabia, said now co-owner Harry Meguerditchiam.
Because the founder is often traveling, he assigned Healthy Ali Baba to Meguerditchiam and another man, who is now the cook.
“We trained for over a year,” Meguerditchiam said. “He liked the way we followed directions and maintained a high quality.”
The menu is full of middle-eastern favorites, such as hummus, falafel and shawerma.
“We have our vegetables delivered every day,” Meguerditchiam said. “Our lamb is from New Zealand and our beef is from Australia.”
However, the food is a little bit pricey. An appetizer such as hummus, smashed garbanzo beans, or baba ghanouj, an eggplant dish, costs between $5 and $12.
A meal such as shish kabob or shawerma, can cost between $12 and $16.
Shawerma is meat cooked on a spit, and shaved off to be served to the customer.
Although the food may cost a little more than a Big Mac and french fries, a lot of food is supplied for the amount paid. I ordered the falafel plate, which came with falafel, a fried vegetable meal ball, vegetables, pita, and a substantial amount of hummus. Every plate comes with pita bread. The highlight of the cuisine is the homemade garlic sauce, which can be put on any dish to add another depth of flavor.
“The chicken shawerma is the best I have tasted,” said junior sociology major Christian Leon. “I like the tahini sauce too.”
The service is also very prompt and hospitable. The waiter brought out water and pita bread soon after I had ordered. They also supply eaters with pickles, hot peppers and pickled beets, a popular Mediterranean side.
“We like giving good service to our customers,” said waiter Jose Cruz.
The weekends and evenings are the most popular time for the restaurant, Cruz added.
For customers who enjoy sitting outside and relaxing in the evenings, Ali Baba features hookah, which is a water pipe used for smoking flavored tobacco. The restaurant imports all of its hookah pipes from Egypt.
The restaurant offers new experiences for people who aren’t culturally savvy. So visit Ali Baba for a Mediterranean experience you wont forget. Healthy Ali Baba is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. For more information and a menu, visit healthyalibaba.com.
Carly Hill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.