Lincoln’s Downtown Gyro Wars

August 14, 2005 at 4:14pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

There was an interesting article in the LJS today about the rivalry between the “Gourmet Grill” and “Ali Baba’s” on the corner of 14th and O. It was nice to get some comprehensive history on these two joints so kudos to the LJS for this one.

I should add, I can chime in a bit on a few of the issues/observations raised in the article:

1) It is also my observation that Naqib isn’t exactly the friendliest guy in the world. He could learn a lot from George in this respect (or for that matter George’s main helper - the guy who always looks like he just rolled out of bed).

2) Although Naqib may not be so personable, his brother and nephew are actually really nice guys.

And 3) - you heard it here folks: not sure if this is provable or not - but it is rumored that the GG uses Kronos gyro meat products (ie known for that ubiquitous “smiling woman” poster) whereas Ali Baba’s uses Grecian Delight. Having known others in the fast food greek/mideast grill type industry, it is well known in that community that Grecian Delight is the superior (and more expensive) gyro meat than Kronos, and the distinguishing diner can tell. 

Which is why I go to Ali Baba’s regularly and prefer it to the Gourmet Grill. But beyond gyros - the grilled chicken kabobs are the best - and ask them to use tandoori seasoning as well on it.

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The Comments

Mr. Wilson August 14, 2005 at 6:10pm

Why don’t you think it’s easy to determine which meat the two restaurants use? Just look at the posters in their windows. I believe you’ll find the answer you’re looking for near the bottom of each poster.

Mr. T August 14, 2005 at 9:35pm

Yah but the thing is, GG has the “smiling woman” poster (apparently she is smiling because she is about to bite into a luscious Kronos meat gyro) and Ali’s also has a similar kronos poster inside,  as well as a “Grecian Delight” poster.

Yes it is conceivable that they got the promotional posters when they buy their gyro meat, hence - that indicates what meat they are selling. But it is also conceivable that the posters are holdovers from previous owners, they got them from previous places they worked in, they went to an industry tradeshow and just picked up a poster because it advertised gyros/greek food on it, whatever/etc.. After all, its not exactly unheard of for restaurants to have posters or what have you depicting/inferring one thing that has nothing to do with its actual products.

But anyway, my point being was that I was directly told by credible, independent sources which brands each of the places used, and another person I knew had a similar experience observing one of the store owners talking with a salesperson representing his supplier. Now of course that could have been total horseshit too, but I believe I have enough information to back-up the proposition that Ali’s likely uses Grecian Delight and GG uses Kronos.

Anyone have other observations here? Perhaps a reader would like to ask each of the store owners next time they are in the area and report back?

Mr. T August 14, 2005 at 9:51pm

I might also add that although I prefer the Ali’s gyros and chicken kabobs, GG does do some things better - example, their “hot and spicy” gyro is definitely superior than the Ali’s version. GG also has fish and chips that are good when you get that hankering for greasy fried fish.

I noticed recently that Ali’s has expanded its menu to include a lot of chicken items now, which I should try some day. I have tried to talk them into going more Indian in flavor (the “Chicken Tandoori” they sell really is NOT like the authentic version I am used to at least), without success. Even something as simple as adding a curry dipping sauce of sort. I also think they should change falafel mixes. Their falafel has a really weird after taste.

Steve August 15, 2005 at 4:27pm

Ali Baba’s Greek chicken is the best. 

I worked at Twisters when it was in the old McDonald’s spot where Sandy’s is now so I got to know George pretty well.  I always felt guilty sneaking by George’s to get to Ali Baba’s without him seeing me.

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