I have to say rather sheepishly that I finally tried Ali Baba. I say sheepishly because of the number of times I’ve passed by it traveling on 75 through Richardson. Mary had told me about it some time ago, because a business associate of hers told her how good it was. Can’t say what it was that kept me from exiting to go try it, but boy, am I glad I did.

I’m not sure what it was that prompted it, but getting back from a trade show one Saturday night, decided to eat there “just to say I tried it”.

Well, sorry to say, my other Mediterranean restaurant friends, I’ve found a new place to call favorite.

We’re the types that typically like to sit and go slowly through a meal. There were so many things on the menu that appealed to us, we decided to start with some appetizers. We ordered the French Feta cheese and olives,  and an order of Hummus. Well, we could have stayed there for hours, having them refill just those two items for us. Because of the years we lived in Greece, we tend to gravitate to Greek Feta whenever we get it, can’t say I’ve had French Feta before. The French Feta struck me as being somewhat milder than what we experience with Greek Feta, but very enjoyable nonetheless. When combined with the olives, some black pepper, and olive oil, it’s very soothing. A winner for sure.

So much of what we eat has emotional ties, things that bring us back to periods of enjoyment. Well, the Hummus took us right back to Greece. This is without question, the best Hummus I’ve had in any restaurant, anywhere. The smooth texture, the flavors of chickpeas, tahini, garlic and the smattering of olive oil and paprika on the top blend together perfectly. Upon first taste on a piece of pita, we just looked at each other. Whoa! That was it, we were hooked.

After finishing what was in the bowl (think being a kid, and using your fingers to get the last of the frosting  out of the bowl your mom had mixed it in), we then had the monumental task of ordering something else. What to do? It all looked SO good, but surely, we couldn’t eat all we could order. Wait! We can come back! Yes, the realization that we can come back whenever we want took away the anxiety of missing something good. We both ordered a side of Falafel (we’re thinking, 4 pieces, we should both get an order). These were larger portions than what we’ve been used to getting, we could have easily shared it after what we had already eaten. The flavors just popped out on our tongues, the outside shell providing just enough crunch before savoring the flavors inside. We finished all we had.  No taking any of this home and re-heating later, just would not be the same.

Now I could just leave it off here, but we decided to go back the next day for their brunch buffet (hey, you never know, this visit could have been a fluke, right?). Oh man. I wish we lived closer (not that we’re that far away, but you know, when you want what you want, and you want it NOW, anything that stands between you and your prize needs to be dealt with), we had so many things to choose from! Salad, roasted veggies, stuffed grape leaves, Hummus, Baba Ghanouj, Tzatziki, a hot chickpea and eggplant dish that was out of this world. There were potatoes, rice, that I didn’t try, and in addition to pita bread, slices of pita covered with garlic, parsley, oil, and, and, sorry, I didn’t ask. I was too busy eating.

Check this place out if you haven’t been. Click on the name above to go to their website and check out the menu. Look at the prices. A tremendous value for the amount of food you get.

As we’ve switched to a plant-based diet in the last year or so, we didn’t try any of the meat dishes, but I will tell you, from the looks and the smells, it seems like everything that used to bring us great pleasure when we lived in Europe. You’ll have to see for yourself, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

They serve alcohol as well (again, took that out of our diets a couple of years ago).

Ali Baba. Go. As fast as you can. Here’s the website again: Ali Baba They have 3 locations, we went to the one on I 75 in Richardson. Enjoy!

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When you see this - keep walking

Went to Earth Day Dallas this afternoon. Took the train there so as not have to deal with traffic. Was a nice ride. Only mistake was that we didn’t eat before we left, so we were hungry when we got there.

Walked around some, with an eye towards finding something to eat. We didn’t see much to begin with, so when we saw Freebirds World Burritos stand, we figured we were in good shape. Not so much. They advertised a “veggie burrito”. Shame on us for not asking what was in them. They were $5 each, and $3 for a bottled water. We sat in the shade, and took off the aluminum foil wrapper. The tortilla itself was a nice green color, I figured cilantro lime or something of that nature. I hadn’t ever tried their Burritos before, so I was hopeful I had another good choice for a vegetarian meal. I bit into it and got white rice and some black beans, a piece of cilantro. Bit into it again, got white rice and some black beans. My wife said , “well maybe the sign said vegetarian burritos”. I said I didn’t think so. She was having the same experience. I was hungry and continued to eat. Got another bite of sticky rice and even less beans than previously. I HAD to say something.

I went back to their stand, and said to one of the ladies behind the counter, “these burritos don’t have any veggies in them”. She said “that’s right”. I said, “But I would expect veggie burritos to have veggies in them”. She said “Oh, well not everybody likes that.” I mumbled “What?” She said something to the effect that they have to appeal to many people, and not everyone like veggies in them. I said “vegetarians do, that’s why we get veggie burritos”. She then started to tell me something about “the standards”, and that they can’t offer them with veggies. I was getting completely confused. “You see,” she continued, “we can’t put everything in them, like some people don’t like onions, so we don’t put them in, because we have to please a lot of people”. I’m sure I had a pretty stupid look on my face at that point, as I couldn’t believe the nonsense she was passing on to me. I muttered an “ok?” and walked away, throwing the rest of it in the garbage.

Then my wife went over. She tried to explain to them how she felt that the way they had advertised it was misleading, and while she was sure they wouldn’t change it, they really should. At that point, a man that was in the booth next to them talking to someone else (I guess he was someone in authority, as he was wearing a “Freebirds World Burritos” T-shirt) spoke to my wife for a few moments. She left, came back over to where I was (tweeting to my massive 89 followers to be sure not to eat there if they went to the festivities) and threw the rest of hers away. The man came over to us and offered to give us our money back. “You see, in the store, people can choose what to put on them”. I told him that really wasn’t the point. I wasn’t having any of it. I told him I appreciated his effort, but I pay for what I eat, and that my disappointment was over the top as a result of this, and getting my money back wasn’t acknowledging what was going on. My wife told him again that while she was sure they should change the way they advertise them, she was pretty sure they wouldn’t. He didn’t say one way or the other, but just wanted to try to make it right. I thanked him again, but told him no thanks. He politely said, “well ok, enjoy the rest of your time at the event”. We thanked him and moved on.

Freebirds – I guess technically having beans in the burrito makes it a “veggie” burrito. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make it that  in my mind, or in the minds of many other people I know.  Please also take the time to train your people on site how to respond to complaints like this, rather than have them ramble on about something that I’m guessing they don’t understand themselves. It certainly made no sense to us.

You’re in business to make money – I get that. Don’t take advantage of a situation like this and sell something that for all intents and purposes is not what it’s advertised. Heck, if you can’t bother to do it right, don’t do it at all. I wasn’t looking for a mouthful of sticky carbs, I was expecting some sautéed vegetables.  Was it worth it to you for the 10 bucks? It wasn’t for me.  

The good part is, that before we left, we went to Chipoltle and got what we wanted – for less money.  

Earth Day Dallas is open tomorrow, Saturday, 4/23/2011. If anyone reading this happens to be going, if you see this booth in the picture above, do yourself a favor and keep walking by. About a block up there is an area with food trucks with much greater choices. If you do stop at their booth, please be sure to tell them that I DIDN’T send you there.