|220 3rd Street|
Ali Baba Cafe is a wonderful little Persian restaurant two blocks from campus on 3rd Street and A Street. During lunch times the place gets packed. Ali Baba serves pita wraps, burritos, sandwiches, salads, burgers (cheeseburgers especially), and has daily lunch specials. The burgers are on the greasier side of the spectrum, a plus for some.
Monday: Istanbuli Polo (Curry Rice, Chicken, & Green Beans)
Tuesday: Gheymeh Polo (Basmati Rice with Chicken & Lentils)
Wednesday: Bagheli Polo (Dill & Lima Bean Rice with Curry Chicken & Onion)
Thursday: Gourmet Sabzy (Basmati Rice with Chicken & Spinach)
Friday, Saturday, & Sunday: Fesenjan (Basmati Rice with Pomegranate, Walnut, and Chicken)
The daily specials are $5.49 plus tax, are ready in an instant, and taste very good. Make sure you mix in the yogurt they give you — it's delicious! Also, you can order a half-order of the specials that runs much cheaper and gives you nearly as much food — they give you as much sauce but less rice. They have a red hot sauce that you can put on the rice to "kick it up a notch".
Their menu lists gyros, sandwiches, burritos, cheeseburgers, Indian dishes (i.e. chicken and green peas in curry rice), onion rings, baba ganouj, salads, and more. They are a "Jack of all trades" (where else can you get a Veggie Burrito, Falafel, and a Cheeseburger?). No sushi though.
The regulars (owners?) are always relaxing inside, playing backgammon against each other. Ali Baba is perhaps the backgammon capital of the area.
Also offering Mediterranean food (gyros, falafel, kebabs, dolmas,...) is Sam's Mediterranean, which is just a block down the street. Both are very popular, but Ali Baba may get slightly more business due to its proximity to campus and the fact that they take credit cards and Sam's doesn't. However, because of this, your food generally comes out faster at Sam's. Because both restaurants are so close in quality and location, there seems to be a bit of a rivalry; some people swear by Sam's Mediterranean, others swear by Ali Baba, but most are just excited that we have two great Mediterranean joints so close to campus.
Ali Baba offers free wireless internet.
Ali Baba changed ownership in June, 2008. It was renovated in late November/early December 2008. The walls have been painted bright colors, the floor has been redone, there are new (and much nicer) tables and chairs, and there are new menu signs over the counter. The exterior was redone, too. Those that like the hole-in-the-wall look will miss the old decor, but it's hard not to see this as a drastic improvement in ambiance. It was renovated again in 2011, around the same time they obtained a liquor license.
Another thing to note is that they charge 35 cents to run a credit card as of 8/2011.
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Reviews from 2004 and 2005 ~ 13 comments
Reviews from 2006 ~ 7 comments
Reviews from 2007 ~ 19 comments
More Current Reviews
2008-01-27 20:16:01 The burgers are good. —GregWebb
2008-02-06 11:58:39 I ordered their special today, which was the "Baghali Polo"...dill and lima beans mixed with rice and a side of chicken curry. I used to hate the way dill smelled and tasted, but this one was more of a lightly fragrant smell rather than the really heavy smell that I was used to. The rice was light yet very flavorful, and the chicken was tender and well flavored by the curry. You should definitely mix the yogurt sauce into the rice; it really adds to the flavor. —wootywoo
2008-02-19 22:56:54 Good falafel sandwich (much better than Sam's which has soggy falafel). I agree with the other comments that the service is slow, but the food is hot and cooked to order so I don't mind! —mj
2008-03-18 15:58:04 Two notes. Firstly, they never seem to change their specials.. ever, which is amusing. Secondly, they used to have good onion rings.. but now they don't, early march I went there expecting some nice deep fried battered crispy onion greasy deliciousness, but sadly was served some reconstituted pre-made stuff that they had heated in their fryer. I felt a bit gyped. —DavidPoole
2008-03-19 00:18:20 I believe the specials correspond to a certain day of the week. For example, you will find the same special every Thursday. Perhaps you tend to visit on the same day each week. —IDoNotExist
I believe it has been the same 5 dishes for at least the past 17 years. —JimEvans
2008-04-06 09:43:10 The food here is good and inexpensive. Definitely a good place to eat. —IDoNotExist
2008-04-14 18:45:01 the specials are really good! especially the tuesday special, as well as the friday (pomegranite special). you can even order 1/2 special which is still a lot of food. i also highly recommend the burgers. if you do not want a lot of toppings you can always request that they be taken off, there are a lot of good combinations. PS. davidpoole, the onion rings are cooked the same way they have always been —ReginaGunn
2008-04-18 19:08:35 I got the Veggie Special today at 11:00. The cook down was 25 minutes but I had nothing to do so I was not in a rush. You can grab a copy of the Aggie while you wait for your food. The Veggie Special is a cup of sweet curry with potatoes, carrots, and lima beans with a huge rice and a small cup of non sweet yogurt. The food is very good considering the price is just a little under $6. If you are healthy, you can divide the Veggie Special into two portions (share with a friend or take out) and still be full. Good place if you don't mind the long wait. —justinhu
2008-04-22 12:55:39 for about $8 I got a REALLY dry and sort of gross salmon burger, fries and a drink. Compared to other salmon burgers that I have paid the same amount or less for, I was REALLY disappointed to say the least...disgusted might better convey my feelings. However, I LOVE Ali Baba's falafel and regular burgers, so I can't say that the entire restaurant is bad, in fact it's pretty good. The service is faster around lunch time and their fries are great (I don't like a lot of salt so I think their choice, but adding salt might be a good idea for some people).
My advice for first time, or any-time, Ali Baba-goers, get ANYTHING on the menu BUT the salmon burger...gah. —ArianeMetz
2008-05-11 11:50:19 I've been to Ali Baba a couple of times now, and I like the food there. The gyro I had was pretty good, and the dolmas were the best I've ever had. Last time I ordered the gyro burrito and got waaaaaaaay more than I expected. It was the biggest burrito I've ever seen. It was also very tasty, and how could you pass up a bottle of Sierra Nevada for 1.50!!! Hell, all their bottles are a 1.50. Good food and cheap beer, what more could you want? —JasonA
2008-06-14 03:54:38 Ali Baba's Bacon Cheeseburger = delicious. and they don't put stupid onion rings on it like the fast food places. —KellyCorcoran
2008-08-23 01:19:13 I absolutley love Ali Baba's! I've been going here for the longest time, my parents took me ever since I was a toddler. I can remember it going from different owners, and it's various remodels. I just recently went there again after not having been there for a long while. It is absolutley the best place for Persian food (im persian) other than my dad. Highly recommend the Fesenjun, which is Friday's special. It's this pomegranate walnut sauce with chicken. To die for. They give you wayyy more than you can eat, and just the right price. —natalie0927
2008-10-15 21:20:49 I think they may have changed their hours. They were not open when I biked by last Sunday (before 9 PM). Anybody know their new hours? —IDoNotExist
2008-10-15 21:33:22 We really, really miss their burgers. —EdWins
2008-11-07 18:10:26 Hi everyone, My name is Ali and I'm the new owner of ALI BABA.
I'm remodeling the restaurant and it's going to look great, I'm very excited. Ali Baba will be closed Nov. 27th-30th.
I'm planning on having an opening party with music and everything $5. Please let me know what you think, as your
feedbacks are greatly appreciated. I hope to make your visit to Ali Baba a lot more pleasant.
I hope the remodel goes smoothly, Yesterday I had a mushroom cheeseburger which was excellent and today as well as the day before last I had the feta cheesburger with bacon. Both times it was wonderful. —StevenDaubert
Hey Ali, its good to see that you're having a re-opening. I met you not long after you actually took on ownership, but I doubt you remember me since it was quite a while ago. Let me know if you have any flyers that you'd like to distribute and I'll help get them around downtown. —SunjeetBaadkar
2008-11-08 11:35:24 Are you the new owner (as of some time this summer), or the new new owner? ie. Did Ali Baba change hands again after Darish sold it? —IDoNotExist I don't think so, but Ali is the current owner and it's always nice to see business owners on the wiki! —StevenDaubert
2008-11-09 17:04:12 SunjeetBaadkar, I actually do remember you, if I recall correctly you either work or own a bookstore, right? —alismoghaddam
Awesome memory, my friend! Yes, I work at the independent bookstore downtown. —SunjeetBaadkar
2008-11-10 23:57:04 I went to Ali Baba's last week with a few friends. To my dismay, they were out of their delicious Onion Rings (on a Friday night, A FRIDAY NIGHT!?)!!! I wasn't VERY hungry, so I ordered a Greek salad (which has NOTHING on Crepeville's, and was honestly kind of expensive). In the end, I needed to get some salt, and again, I was bitterly let down. THEY HAD DONE AWAY WITH THEIR STEAK FRIES! OH THE HUMANITY! Now they have (obviously pre-frozen) crinkle-cut fries...oh I was so sad!! I will definitely go back to Ali Baba's for their deliciously onion-y falafel...but for now they have disappointed me. Aree Rating: 7/10. —ArianeMetz
As of December 17th, they had the steak fries. I was there to get an appetizer platter that night (see my other comment below) and during the wait had got some of the fries. —SunjeetBaadkar
2008-11-18 11:40:43 I should have heeded the comments and got a burger. I ordered the falafel sandwich to go - wrong move. Old lettuce and no tzaziki sauce. Falafels were soft, not crunchy. I was quite disappointed since I had my mouth all set for tzaziki sauce. Oh well. The place smelled of old grease too. Open a door or window!! —Zabadu
Falafel sandwiches rarely have tzaziki, rather they are prepared with a tahini sauce. Tzaziki is a Greek yogurt based sauce, not middle eastern. —ScottWeintraub
2008-12-03 18:32:01 Service is toooooooo slow! I used to go there for lunch but ever since this year, they seem to have changed things around. I used to be in and out of there in under 10 minutes (take away orders). Now it takes too long and management is pretty much incompetent . Whatever happened to the beer?? Burgers and Brew is the way to go now even for lunch. —Smithhammond
2008-12-03 18:43:30 I've found that since the management changed, it takes exactly the same amount of time to get my food as it did before. The time is primarily dependent on how long it takes the cook to make whatever you ordered. It's the same cook. Only the people at the counter have changed. —IDoNotExist
Actually you are mistaken. The cooks are different. It used to be this guy called corneelio now it's a different guy. I remember him very well and he used to be fast and always took care my orders (#3 on wheat).
2008-12-04 11:57:51 Can someone tell me if they serve Kabob Khoobedeh and how good it is? —condemned2bfree
Nevermind. Went for lunch today. It was excellent. Try the Kubideh Kabob if you're a meat-eater. It's not the best I've ever had. The rice could use some taste, but the meat was grilled fairly well - very slightly overcooked, but excellent nonetheless because of how juicy it was. The service is good. Some dishes you have to wait for 10-15 minutes but that's to be expected for food like that. The guy at the counter is very nice. Gazoy-e irani ghalee goubeh (Persian food is very good!) —condemned2bfree
*Hell, yea it is! Beh Salemati!—CurlyGirl26
* It looks like they no longer serve Kubideh Kabob as of this update (May 2011), but the person at the counter said they were "bringing it back." That was dissapointing because that is my favorite persian food item. I will keep a look out. -ChrisDietrich
2008-12-26 11:23:06 Well Scott, in Los Angeles, where the falafel is good, you get a version of a tzaziki - a yogurt based sauce. However, even if they did have it, I wouldn't go back - the place smelled badly of old grease. —Zabadu
I'm sure that many places around the country often serve tzatziki with eastern Middle East cuisine. It just doesn't happen to be actually part of that region's traditional cuisine. It's tasty, but expecting it is silly. Slide on down to Café Méditerranée where the menu is based on a region a bit farther west and you can both get falafel and tzatziki. —Evan 'JabberWokky' Edwards
2008-12-26 11:54:34 I came here for an emergency (for lack of a better term) run for food for a small gathering. I needed a platter of different finger foods in a short amount of time. After patiently spending some minutes discussing the options with me, the on-site owner worked out a great platter of various vegetarian and non-vegetarian options at a decent price. About 15 minutes later, the entire thing was ready to go. The platter (which consisted of various kebabs, dolmas, falafel, etc) was a hit and was completely consumed over the course of the night. —SunjeetBaadkar
2009-01-06 23:23:15 I like the remodel! Also, it seems that the restaurant has been reestablished in non-Euclidian space. :-) —IDoNotExist
2009-01-14 00:36:15 They've renovated the place and it looks a lot better than before. They have a filafel wrap that is [i]very[/i] similar to the kind they serve at Sam's right across the street. They prepare their filafel pieces a little differently though, and I actually prefer Ali Baba's version. Not bad for $5. Plus they have a buy 10 get one free card. I don't know if they still give those out, though. —AmanpreetSingh
2009-02-11 20:43:23 Both the quality of the food and the atmosphere of Ali Baba have improved substantially since Ali took it over and rennovated it. Recommended. —IDoNotExist
2009-02-19 20:44:38 Their burgers are definitely worth their price, their fries are amazing, and their Wednesday Special rice is wonderful. I never take rice back home from a restaurant, but this was my first exception. —JonathanChee
2009-05-29 03:11:59 its impossible to get something wrong, all the food here seems so wonderful. i love the daily special with lima beans and dill weed in the rice. that is just soooooooooo freakin delicious. i normally hate dill too. the lamb kebabs are soooooooo succulent, pour some lemon to take off grease and bring out the flavors. Oh and i love how they give you yogurt when you ask for it. hmmmmmmm. i havent tried their burgers, but im curious now! the prices are very reasonable. it may not seem so because the restaurant leans more toward being quaint than elegant. but the food speaks for itself. —chand3123k
2009-06-14 12:49:45 mmmmm food here is so good and the service is always friendly, especially the guy there. —skinnyfatgirl
2009-06-21 01:02:12 I like the new environment. I usually get the feta burger, but i've also had a chicken salad here. Both very good and reasonably priced. I would be interested if they added additional persian dishes to the menu. —Babhari
2009-07-16 21:38:25 The kebabs are pretty good and it was very cool to find out that one of the cashiers out front is from my neighbprhood back home. —BryceH
2009-07-23 14:57:23 Went there recently after a loonng hiatus after reading of the recent renovation. The cook still very creepily ogles the female patrons, and the chicken chunks in the lunch specials still has pink in the middle. Probably won't go back again. —AnnieSirrah
2009-07-26 19:41:18 Recently decided to check this place out after many years living in Davis, and extremely happy and wish found it earlier! We don't go out to each much, but recently we've been going here about once a week. The daily specials are super good and their burgers are amazing! the bacon is incredible! The fries are awesome and seasoned with cinnamon and something else (anyone know what it is?), and thick cut. You only need to get the small fries for two people if you get other food, as the portions are really big. super chill staff, free drinks after 5pm, and good music on the ipod. great stuff and pretty cheap for students! —ADP
2009-08-23 14:37:19 I'm a huge fan of the Aggie Kebab over the Greek Salad. A bit pricey for an everyday meal, but absolutely satisfying and filling. —SunjeetBaadkar
2009-11-11 11:04:15 The Feta Burgers are the best in town (even after Burgers and Brew opened) and the Spinach Special on Thursdays is amazing. The owner is often on site and has an excellent attitude. —GJC02
2009-12-05 15:40:10 Nice People working here. It is very cramped though. I like their Wednesday special a lot. They need to do something about their bathroom though, the door doesn't even lock! —JSlice
2010-02-13 20:25:20 I do not recommend this place. I ordered the "Thursday" special, and it arrived before we had the chance to sit down at our table. I didn't realize that I was ordering fast food, but it wasn't much more than that. Both the chicken AND spinach were definitely out of a can (you know the flavor), which from the first bite was a huge disappointment. Overall, the waitress was nice, but the food was far from good. We tried this place b/c of the good reviews on here, but we won't eat here again. —ibirdie
2010-03-18 18:12:59 I am not a fan of the Styrofoam plates, cups, bowls etc but the food is good. My boyfriend loves the burritos because they are bigger than Chipotle, cheaper, and have more flavor. The salads are pretty good, and the specials are good prices. My personal favorite is the grilled cheese because it comes with tomato soup and a salad only for $5. The food quality varies from time to time but I have never had a bad experience. If youre looking for somewhere quick and consistent in quality, ali baba is the place —cj2012aggie
2010-04-12 18:30:38 The Aggie Kebab is seriously the best meal in Davis. Why? Sit down and listen. Yeah it sounds basic (just grilled chicken and rice right lol??) Well shut the hell up because it is unbelievably satisfying and delicious. Get it like I do, all rice with grilled onions and feta cheese. Eating it is the closest thing to a religious experience I have ever had in my whole life. All for around $8? Get the hell out of here, this is the best value in food in Davis and probably in North America. The owner Ali is tight as hell too, he knows what is up. I just ate the meal again and said out loud to myself "God damn" after every few bites, it's that good. You better eat there —LoooongBusRide
2010-05-28 20:22:13 It's all true about the burgers. So good! The char-ness of the meat contrasts wonderfully with the cool ingredients, and to my mind that is what makes a great burger. I can't believe I've lived here 10 years and hadn't tried them before, although I had tried other items (like the Fesenjoon ;) This is now my favorite burger in Davis - edging out Cafe Bernardo's. I also really liked the fries with cinnamon on them. —ZannGates
2010-06-06 14:48:42 I just had a Falafel Wrap here at Ali Baba's and it was delicious. I recommend getting one of the side "sauces" to dip the wrap. A+ —Darkfallin
2010-07-31 00:21:53 I love their feta burgers (although they could probably use more feta), and I used to get their gyro burritos all the time (do they still have those?). The fesanjon is also really good. Judith once ordered a HUGE cup (a gallon, maybe?) of fresh-squeezed orange juice which was delicious and took about half an hour to prepare. She says it also totally skewed her data for the Nutrition 10 track-your-food-intake-for-a-week project. Sadly, they do not offer fresh-squeezed orange juice anymore; presumably we drank all of it. —BarnabasTruman
2010-09-26 17:16:07 Really good food at relatively cheap prices. Also not a fan of the styrofoam, but hopefully if enough people mention it they'll change? The vegetarian special (on the board on the left wall) is always a good choice. —Kipusa
2010-10-05 19:23:06 I love Ali Baba's, especially for their chicken burrito! It's awesome that it comes with cinnamon chicken, wheat tortilla (without having to request it), and great veggies, cheese, and rice. I also love their bacon cheeseburger when I'm in that beefy mood. Probably the Davis eatery I'll miss the most after graduation. —MichaelS
2010-10-10 15:42:15 The aggie kebab's here are insanely delicious. You have to get it with grilled onions on top too. The chicken is unbelievably tender and flavorful, haven't tried anything else here yet because I can never bring myself to order anything else but this is easily one of the best restaurants in davis. —JennyAdler
2010-10-18 21:43:39 Ummm, starting today this place is starting to charge a 20 cents surcharge for credit card use... shady.... —Wiiman
2011-01-04 21:57:55 TERRIBLE. My girlfriend and I went to this restaurant on 1/3/11 and ordered the Monday special, Falafel Sandwich, Hot Soup, Hummus, and Baba Ganouj. The Falafels were burnt, the Special was just dry chicken on dry mexican rice, the Hot soup was Basically tomato soup with some spice, and the hummus and baba ganouj were not very good either. Worst Place I have eaten. The sushi restaurant across the street was much better. Do not waste your money here. —RichCar
2011-01-08 11:24:40 I recently had lunch here with two old friends. I really do not know why I never went here earlier...it was fantastic! I got the Aggie kebab with half salad, half rice. The chicken was tender and wonderfully marinated. I had been a little worried about the lemon or onion overpowering everything else, but it ended up being perfect. The salad dressing is AMAZING. Period. I'm not a big veggie eater, but if you put that dressing on pretty much anything, I'd probably eat it. Also, for the price of the plate, there was a good amount of food, and would actually have been too much had I not skipped breakfast that day. I am hoping to go on a weekend, soon, because the weekend special sounds perfectly suited for me with the tart fruit, nut, chicken combo being one of my favorites! —Anja
2011-01-13 13:28:48 Like many others, I frequently get the Aggie Kabob. It is almost always great and delicious. Make sure you get it with grilled onions. However the falafels seem to have gone downhill, the last two times they have been really burnt/hard. I'll still go to Ali's for the Aggie Kabob but Sam's falafel has my vote. —Sar58
2011-02-03 20:38:23 I love this place. I dont think you can go wrong with any of the specials and they are relatively inexpensive compared to their competitors nearby. I have also had their burritos, grilled cheese, soups and salad and cant complain about any of them. I agree with the above reviews that the aggie kabob is especially good. My favorite special is the walnut/pomegranate chicken I believe its on Fridays and Saturdays. The owner is always really friendly and I dont have a single bad thing to say about this restaurant. —cj2012aggie
2011-04-09 21:08:20 Nice and tidy little restaurant. Both the man and the lady that work at the counter (at least on Saturday nights) are extremely nice. I strolled into the restaurant cluelessly, and after staring at the menu for a while, he figured I was new. Thus, he proceeded in kindheartedly helping me find a meal perfect for the night. I ordered the suggested food items, payed (using a CampusCred voucher, w00t!), and waited for at most 10 minutes before my food was DELIVERED to me. The only problem I had was that my lamb gyros was soggy :( It was quite good though, and the onion rings were incredibly fresh. Unfortunately, neither of them tasted spectacular to me; just didn't suit my taste buds. The lamb inside the gyros were delicious, but that was about it. The onion rings aren't your classic onion rings; they taste a bit different, and not how I like them. Don't let me discourage you from trying it though :) Everything was worth trying.
Oh, for those of you new to this restaurant, you actually have to go to the counter and order, as well as seat yourself. I didn't know this at first, haha. Felt like a fool :3 Oh wells. :P
Overall, good experience, nice restaurant, the gyros and onion rings just aren't my choice food items. Will come here again and try their weekend special :D —KimberlyKitHom
2011-05-21 13:34:01 This place is disgusting, and I will never come back. I ordered a falafel wrap, and my boyfriend ordered lamb over rice. My wrap was tasteless and overloaded with the white sauce (tahini?) It basically felt like I was drinking it. The falafel itself was just so-so, a bit dry and not even as good as the falafel I've made at home from an instant mix. The lamb over rice was the worst part. It looked like stringy, dried meat that was slightly burnt and covered in grease, all laid out over dry, old rice. His "dish" was about about $12-$13, if I remember correctly. For that price, it should at least be edible. I was in a rush to get back to school, so on the way out we let them know that we weren't very happy with the lamb dish. The man working at the counter sort of shrugged in response. No apology, nothing. I would not wish this place on my worst enemy. —blee
2011-05-27 20:35:10 are they no longer giving a drink for the daily specials? the last two timse i went, i didnt get a drink.. today i actually asked if the special came with a drink and he said no. anyone? —SallyVo
2011-07-27 23:37:55 Customer service quality has been decreasing every time I go there. Also, they charge you extra than what the actual price says! The receipt doesn't state how much the tax is, but if you total it in your head, they charge you some cents more. I never complained because it was always less than a dollar, but it just shows you how shady these businesses can be. —stephaniesun
2011-07-31 22:32:46 The Aggie Kabob with grilled onions is fantastic. —JanaShute
2011-08-16 16:28:32 Even if the food isn't spectacular, the customer service is enough to keep me coming back. Ali Baba also supports many organizations on campus via fundraising events, and the owner is extremely nice. They have AC too, which is nice. :D —PaulV
2011-08-17 08:18:18 Can anyone tell me if they've brought back beef kabob koobideh? —ChrisDietrich
2011-08-22 18:22:02 Ali Baba is a wonderful place to eat, study, or just hang out. The owner is very personable, knows the regulars, and treats every customer like a friend. And the hummus is BOMB. :) —Krissywissypoo
2012-03-16 20:09:52 I love this place! As a vegetarian it's really hard to come by healthy filling meals at restaurants. Ali babas prices are great, and the food is amazing!!! Not to mention the super nice guy working behind the counter. The place looks great after the renovation work done not too long ago. I highly recommend the veggie platter. It's so big you and take home leftovers too! —NeeloferKarimyar
2012-03-23 10:56:24 This is a standby, especially on Thursdays and Fridays. Spinach chicken—awesome—and fesenjon—delicious. Always a good price, always quick. People all over Davis go by their calendar of specials. Thanks Ali! —NicoleR
2012-06-07 18:48:12 Great place to eat in Davis. Been eating here for years on a weekly basis: feasibly priced and many options. I haven't eaten here for a couple months, however, since they changed the recipe of the veggie special. Used to taste awesome, then it started tasting bad. Anyone know if they switched back to the old recipe? —ToddU
2012-08-06 12:42:34 just had the aggie kebab over salad and it was delicious! a great healthy option! —achassy