Monday, September 1, 2008
Ali Baba's Time Out Deli
Ali Baba's Time Out Deli
This is another one of Knoxville's much beloved dining spots. Housed in what looks to be a former roadside motel, with the restaurant in the part of the motel that was the office. The interior is a bit claustrophobic and you will be lucky if you get one of the two tables. Otherwise, you will have to sit on one of the stools by the counter which face the window, giving you a lovely view of the always clogged Kingston Pike traffic. The stools are a bit tall so your feet will dangle uselessly unless you use the one buttock on, one buttock off method with toe touching the floor to ensure stability.
Despite the cramped interior, there always seem to be a constant stream of visitors, chatting with the cook/owner/waiter/etc. behind the counter. After you order your food, you will probably attempt to pay, but we be told to come back when you finish. It's the same man who takes your money as gives you your food, he just refuses let you pay until you have finished eating. So, you sit down, eat, and then go back up to the counter pay. I always find this a bit anxiety provoking. If you have a short attention span and poor memory like me, you will probably spend the entire meal silently reminding yourself to pay before you leave and will have visions of being pulled over by a Knoxville police officer a few blocks down the road. The minute you see the flashing lights, you will think "CRAP! I forgot to pay." Paranoid perhaps but I really would prefer in a restaurant with counter service to get the financial transaction over with so that I can eat with a clear conscience. I think this payment system is a cultural thing as other Middle Eastern restaurants I have been to have a similar set-up.
The menu is full of many deep fried options. But, in addition to hamburgers and fries, are Middle Eastern options such as falafel, hummus, baba ganouj, and the King Solomon Special. They are great at deep frying things and the fast food is good if you are in the mood for that sort of thing. I would suggest trying some of the Middle Eastern options however, because those items are their best work. Not to mention the fact that you can't get things like falafel at other places.
The King Solomon special was a huge portion and enough for leftovers the next night. If I wouldn't have forgotten it in the car for a few days. It wasn't the best dish I have had at Ali Baba's but I did like the tasty marinade on the chicken breast that included jalapenos.
There is also a small selection of groceries available such as tahini, grape leaves, and Mediterranean pickles.
Dineometer Rating: 70%