One of the challenges that Puerto Rico has in global cuisine is that restaurants will completely modify their authentic recipes for the locals. It is not strange to walk into a Mexican, Chinese, and Japanese restaurant and find Mofongo, Tostones, and Carne Frita. Although I know some modifications need to be made to keep a restaurant running on the island, I think we need a few places that maintain the integrity of the history behind their food so others can enjoy as if they were visiting their country.
Ali Baba is Authentic Turkish Cuisine
About a year ago, we were invited by our neighbor Djat to visit a Turkish restaurant named Ali Baba. I fast forward to about a month ago and here we are eating with our friend Nando while Djat’s son, Nabil who works at the restaurant, welcomes us.
Catering to Special Diets
If you're visiting Ali Baba, make a reservation and let them know what special dietary requests you have, and they will tell you what they can do and can’t do. I am so use to walking to a restaurant and having one or no options, that when they go a bit further and cater to my needs it enhances the experience significantly.
The Special Vegan Lavash
I was quickly informed that since I had made a reservation and I am vegan, they made Lavash, a Turkish bread without dairy or eggs so I could enjoy a vegan version of it. It is even more difficult to have a restaurant cater to special diets on the island where vegan food means iceberg lettuce and tomatoes.
Ask for the Cucumber Martini
Nabil offered to make me a Cucumber Martini ( I think it's a secret Bar Menu Item) and with the warm tropical night, the recommendation was refreshing and went perfect with my appetizers.
For the meal we started with Turkish Tea and our daughter Daniela had some Falafels. I also ordered some Tabouleh and Hummus which was extraordinary.
I personally ordered the Vegetable casserole and Lucy ordered the Vegetable Moussaka. Our friend Nando went with the Ottoman Casserole which he enjoyed.
Turkish Dessert and Coffee
For dessert Nando tried the Baklava and I decided to have some Turkish black coffee.
What I really like about the restaurant is that it is very accessible in Condado right in front of our old friends at the San Juan Marriott Condado but yet its sort of not in the busy movement of Ashford Avenue. The restaurant is cozy and you can see the chefs preparing the food through a window and yet its relaxing enough where you can sit to have a romantic dinner or just have dinner with family and friends.
Next time you're in Condado and you want to try some Turkish Cuisine mixed with great service and perfect ambiance stop by Ali Baba. I want to thank Chef Suleyman, Nabil, and the rest of the Ali Baba staff for creating a unique experience.