Open Sesame - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Open Sesame

Open Sesame

Published July 22, 2009

Opened in May, Ali Baba has quickly gathered a reputation as the good new kebab place.
The Middle-Eastern menu is short and straight-forward: a handful of kebab portions (a döner spinning in the back of the desk), falafel, hummus and the eternal fries and a burger; all portions priced below 1000 ISK with photos printed on A4s to illustrate – no worries of buying a pig in a poke here.
The place, more inviting than the façade lets one hope for, is spotlessly clean.
There are seats, a fountain and a view over Ingólfstorg for dining in.
I chose the falafel (800 ISK) served in a shawarma, an Arabic wrap-shaped sandwich. It was not too dry, not muddy, perfectly spicy—one of the best falafels I have eaten so far. My kebab-cavalier’s arais maria (900 ISK) melted in the mouth. They had a slightly sinful and highly comforting greasiness to them, yet they were thin enough to cause guilt of a committed crime. The portions are prepared in front of you of fresh, made with inviting ingredients.
On a second visit I had hummus (500 ISK) with fries (350 ISK), a classic if graceless combination. The hummus is good and mild in flavour and comes in generous portions—perfect for a picnic lunch at the close by Austurvöllur square with a bigger entourage—as do the fries (350 ISK).
My date stuck to kebab; the shiri Kebab roll (900 ISK) with meat tasted of  star anise and followed the same high standard as the rest of the foods. Cheap, delicious, fast, Ali Baba is a new favourite for a quick bite. But when it comes to what makes the food so good—spices, sauces and other secrets to the Ali Baba flavours—the owner’s lips stay sealed. “Not telling you” he says and smiles.

  • Where: Ali Baba, Veltusundi 3B (By Ingólfstorg)
  • Opening Hours: 11-24 on weekdays; 12-05 on weekends.
  • What we think: The new fast food favourite
  • Flavour: Middle-Eastern
  • Ambiance: Fast and functional with a fountain
  • Service: Very good
  • Stars: 4 out of 5
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