Ali Baba's Parkdale
You're travelling home from work - a journey that reminds you that you're hungry but have no food in your house, and you don't feel like eating in a restaurant. You have just crossed over into... the take-out zone.
I'm a fan of take out because it's not uncommon that I find myself not wanting to cook, but wanting to eat dinner in my pj's. That's where places like Ali Baba's come in. The one I go to is on Parliament Street, at Gerard, although there are a few other locations around town.
Ali Baba's is a place to get pretty decent Middle Eastern food for pretty cheap. You can eat in the restaurant, but the selling point of this place is the food, not the atmosphere, so personally I prefer bringing it home.
I got the Chicken Shawarma plate ($6.79), which comes with; rice, pita bread (white or whole wheat), tabouleh, garlic sauce, hummos, and random house salads (including that pickled red cabbage and turnip that I adore). With the rice you get an option of lentil rice or plain rice, I highly recommend going for the lentil rice, not only are lentils really good for you, but, well, YUM!
My partner got the Falafel Platter ($5.49), but was starving, so he made it jumbo, which meant it came with 6 falafel balls, not sure how much extra it was, I would say probably around $1.50 or so. e also ordered 2 veggie Samposas. They're a little bit like Samosas, only not as spicy and they come in chicken, beef or veggie for a whopping 89 cents each.
The result was a huge mass of food...
Both of those are available as sandwiches if you're not quite so hungry, Chicken Shawarma for $3.99 and Falafel for $2.99. In fact, the most expensive regular sized sandwich is $4.50 for the Shish Tawook (Chicken breast cooked on the grill) and Sish Kabab (Beef cooked on the grill).
I have heard good things about their lentil soup ($2.50) but didn't try it myself. There's lots on the menu that I'm eager to try at some point, specifically the Kafta Kabab pita sandwich ($3.99), I'm a fan of Kafta, it's kind of like having a really flavourful hamburger.
The lamb shank for $6.99 (with all the salads and hummus etc) looked pretty appealing too.
If you don't eat meat but you don't like falafel (does this exist?!?) then there are grape leaves stuffed with rice (3 for 99 cents), or spinach or cheese pie for $2.49.
Be forewarned, there were a few things that disappointed. The first was that the rice was heated up in the microwave in the styrofoam containers, personally I'm not so sure about the safety of putting those things in the microwave. The other thing was that my shawarma was a on the dry side, but I have to say, that's not an uncommon complaint for me with take out shawarma, so maybe it's just that I find shawarma a dry dish.
That said, the other stuff was delicious and made up for it. Plus the people working were really nice. The bottom line is that there was a lot of reasonably tasty food, for a reasonable price. It covered 4 meals (left-overs) and was less than $20. Plus, if you don't feel like leaving your house, they deliver.