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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Best burrito: Ali Baba

Middle Eastern eatery Ali Baba voted Best Burrito in Davis for the fourth time

 

By ALEXANDRA SHAPIRO features@theaggie.org

 

Middle Eastern eatery Ali Baba Cafe has been voted Best Burrito in Davis with an overwhelming 75% of the votes. Ali Baba is known in Davis for having highly addictive, unique breakfast burritos suitable for all times of the day. Ali Baba offers a wide-ranging menu featuring gyros, hamburgers and specialty coffee drinks, but their breakfast burritos are a popular staple of the restaurant. 

When he was only 20 years old, Ali Moghaddam opened the cafe in 2008. Motivated by a desire to learn and contribute to the community, Moghaddam and his mentor, Ali Reza, decided to establish Ali Baba in Davis because of the high foot traffic common in a college town. 

“I was just a punk kid who didn’t want to go to school, and my parents were like, well, you have to work,” Moghaddam said. “When I started, I was 20 and very optimistic. I loved that I was around the age of all the kids around me. Having a restaurant really allowed me to meet a lot of people and grow with the business [and] understand people better.” 

Ali Baba introduced the breakfast burritos in 2009, but their immense popularity soon made them the star of the menu. 

“The breakfast burrito makes up about 85% of our sales,” Moghaddam said.

Moghaddam explained that the menu is well-tailored to suit the customer demographic.

“The breakfast burrito and the ‘buy six, get one free’ are designed around what the college students want,” Moghaddam said.

The renowned breakfast burritos at Ali Baba come in two styles: regular (meat) and veggie. The traditional meat burrito includes two scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, bacon, gyro meat, french fries, locally sourced honey and Tapatio wrapped in a flour tortilla. The veggie burrito replaces meat with avocado, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms but includes the rest of the ingredients. Both are fully customizable and offer plenty of extra add-ins, such as feta cheese, chicken and falafel.

Ali Baba’s breakfast burrito has become a staple for hungry college students in Davis. Following an early morning exam, Rojina Imani-Nejad, third-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major, always opts for the traditional breakfast burrito as is.

“I love how it’s ready just minutes after ordering,” Imani-Nejad said.

Jasmine Rodriguez, fifth-year civil engineering major, described the variety of Ali Baba’s menu and the benefits of both meal options. 

“The menu is super easy to navigate and both of the breakfast burritos make great meals,” Rodrigez said. “The veggie is for when I want something a little more nutritious, and the regular meat is for when I want a hearty meal to carry me for the rest of the day.” 

The breakfast burritos are well-portioned and only cost $10, making them the perfect meal for college students. Their neat wrapping makes them easy to enjoy, and customers can have their burritos cut in half. 

Ali Baba offers a refreshingly simple and social anxiety-friendly ordering process. Customers can adjust their orders without the pressure of talking to cashiers or waiting in line. 

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic when the university was closed, Ali Baba remained one of the few restaurants in the area to keep its doors open. 

“I looked into what I could do and found the kiosk buddy,” Moghaddam said. “I put those in, and it’s been great because now I don’t have to hire cashiers. I hired an extra cook so the kitchen has extra help.”

Moghaddam further explained the variety of benefits the kiosks bring to Ali Baba’s employees and customers. 

“The kids sometimes have a lot on their minds,” Moghaddam said. “[The kiosks] make the process more clean, metaphorically speaking. This process benefits not only customers but also employees by preventing mix-ups.”

On April 8, Ali Baba opened a second location in Berkeley right next to the UC Berkeley campus.

 “This one is a smaller location; I kept the menu simple, really only selling breakfast burritos and sides [to] give the people what they want,” Moghaddam said. 

Moghaddam is deeply appreciative that Ali Baba was voted Best Burrito in Davis for the fourth time.

“I love Davis, and I love my customers,” Moghaddam said. “I’m indebted to them for supporting me. I am also very grateful to have my coworkers; without them, Ali Baba wouldn’t be what it is.” 

 

Written by: Alexandra Shapiro features@theaggie.org

 

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