Ali Baba: Feasting in Iraqi Stronghold of El Cajon

By | June 12, 2013 0 comments
Ali Baba: Feasting in Iraqi Stronghold of El Cajon
Ali Baba
421 E Main Street
El Cajon, CA 92020
619 442 3622
View Web Site

Date of Visit: April 13, 2013

Key People

Othman Kalasho (owner)


Ali Baba and the forty thieves are legendary figures in Arabic literature that even earned a shout out in the Beastie Boys song Rhymin’ & Stealin’. To start the 21st Century, the story’s unscrupulous lead character inspired Othman Kalasho to open a family friendly restaurant called Ali Baba in El Cajon featuring the hearty cooking of an Iraqi-born chef. The neighborhood’s become a destination for the more than 10,000 Iraqi refugees who have relocated to El Cajon and crave a taste of home, and for fans of Middle Eastern cuisine. The restaurant’s proven so popular that Kalasho also has a branch of Ali Baba in Escondido.

The Scene

Families and couples pile into a sprawling dining hall with patterned walls that host paintings of Iraq. A tasseled blue “tent” frames the interior, which is designed to resemble “the atmosphere of Ancient kings of Arabia’s tent (shahriar & shahrazad).” Somehow, the décor stays on the right side of tasteful, but really, more people focus on the food.

Must Order Food

  • Hummus ($8)
  • Kobba Musilia ($13)
  • Feast For Three People ($55)

Drink Of Choice

Ali Baba Blood Juice ($2)

Nearby Culture



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