Aladdin's Cafe

6310 NE 33rd (attached to the southside of the Food Villa) at Holman
(503) 546-7686
get there via trimet

First, I'd like to begin with the reasons why you won't want to eat here. One, they close at 8pm. Two, they are way north in NE Portland, far away from anything trendy. Three, they have a limited Lebanese menu—no fancy names you aren't sure how to pronounce. Four, there is no atmosphere, and in cold weather, the dining room is cold. Five, they have some american food items which encourage people to bring children. Six, they have no liquor license. Seven, small dining room. Eight, location is hard to find.

So, that's the downside. The upside is that the food is so good, you won't want to tell anyone about it. It's so reasonable, that, well, you might feel guilty that you're not elbow to elbow with punk rockers. They've applied for the liquor licence, and they take credit cards.

The pita is heads and shoulders above anything in town. It's so flakey and delicate that it melts in your mouth. Pita arrives hot from the kitchen soon after you sit down. Oh! The mezza goodies (falafel, homous, baba ghanouj, grape leaves, labneh, and foul) are each under $5, with a mazza combo for $8.50. The roasted eggplant in the baba is coursely ground, not at all bitter, vibrant with the peppery olive oil that marks all of the dishes. The homous is creamy and smooth and wonderful.

The rest of the menu is sandwiches, soups and salads, safeehas (pita dough with toppings), and grilled things. Nothing fancy, but everything done at a reasonable price. Lentil soup is not soupy lentils as at many restaurants—it's pureed almost smooth, a nice lemony note, and quite possibly addictive. Cheese safeeha—yummy cheesy goodness without falling into cheeziness. The meats—oh! Lamb is tender, chicken is incredibly good, covered in spice and flavor, and the rice is unlike any I've had before, and that's in a good way.

We finished our meal ($26) with a baklava and a turkish coffee, both less cloyingly sweet than usual. This is worth going out of your way for!

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland
February 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (5)


Food Dude said:

I just wish they'd finish painting the building and fix the damn sign. The newly added television is kind of tacky too. Food is awfully good though, I agree with everything you said.

vj said:

Yeah, the signage is a problem. I was amused by the xmas tree that's still in the window. And I love the Lebanese music videos (though I admit being fixated on any television that's in sight, even when I hate what's on. Sigh).

Thanks for your original review on it, Food Dude -- I read it in Georgia, and I was like, I gotta go there NOW.

becky said:

Aladdin's is getting beer and wine!

kathryn said:

We live in the neighborhood and it's our standard Friday night fare to get 2 Kafta sandwiches and the Mehamara dip with bread. Amazingly good and cheap!

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