Forgive me if I'm a little late to this one, as I was busy sawing my way through an entire stump de noel and eating croissants, bagels and other chocolatey things in honor of the Christmas holiday. All those sugary calories have a way of clouding one's thinking, while making coming back to work seem like a general chore.
But nothing is upending as the recent closure of the Lakewood location of Ali Baba, which I had planned to use to counteract my recent holiday binging. I'm on my seventh recipe for cookies already and I haven't even started to plan my strudel for New Year's. I was craving a solid dose of Mediterranean cooking.
When everyone asks me how I stay thin, I tell them I moderate my eating, which is a piece of truthful but vague and useless information. The fact of the matter is, I rely on hummus and tabouleh from Ali Baba not less than once a week, and credit a healthy dose of parsley salad for my good health and slender figure. So you can see, the closure of Ali Baba is terrible news for me.
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The owners claim slow lunch service was to blame for the closure, which can surely hurt business, but I'll take things one step further and guess at why lunch service was so slow. Ali Baba was a great standby, as evidenced by my longstanding loyalty, but it was hardly an exciting restaurant. One doesn't get the sense that much has changed since the place opened 25 years ago.
The neighborhood has been changing, though. The plaza that holds Ali Baba has seen the arrival of Liberty Burger, Yummilicious, The Ginger Man and more. And over on Greenville Avenue, Qariah has been showing East Dallas a new side to Middle Eastern food, with freshly baked breads and hookah service.
The success of Qariah demonstrates the neighborhood at least has a taste for Mediterranean fare, and that maybe that taste is evolving. And certainly the cuisine is popular amongst those who don't want to give up big, bold flavors when they're eating healthy food. Look at the Pera restaurant group, which is preparing to open it's third location, this one in Uptown. I don't think Ali Baba closed simply because they didn't do enough lunch business, I think they closed because the restaurant as a whole had gotten a little stale.
So perhaps the closure of Ali Baba will be the harbinger of new Middle Eastern restaurants to come. Maybe this is the year someone finally gives Dallas a proper gyro. (Actually, this whole post was about me trying to eat a little more healthy -- let's save the gyros for next year.)