I’ve lived in Morgantown, WV, long enough to know that the best kept food secrets have nothing to do with West Virginia University’s campus. Frankly, the restaurants on campus are tailored to visiting parents, freshman who have no-limit meal money reserves, and people who happen to work in the area, and this fact shows in the prices at most restaurants downtown.
There are some international restaurants on campus and downtown, but a lot of the specialty restaurants that I’m familiar with from growing up in this town lie in other boroughs. One restaurant in particular comes to mind when I think of the coolest, most off the map places there were to eat growing up. And that restaurant is called Ali Baba.
Hart Field Municipal Airport
Situated in an upper floor of Morgantown’s Hart Field Municipal Airport, this restaurant is literally off the beaten path. You have to make a somewhat hidden turn off one of Morgantown’s local roads to get to the airport, but this trek is definitely worth it.
I would describe Ali Baba as a fusion of Mediterranean and American foods. You can find Greek, Turkish, and Lebanese dishes on the menu, but you aren’t limited to just a menu. A lot of locals really love Ali Baba for its signature express lunch buffet, which you can take part in any day but Sunday.
It’s no run of the mill buffet, though. All the food is really fresh and unique. The menu choices are vast and delicious, too. Some of my personal favorites include the platters, such as the gyro platter, which is a plate of thinly sliced delicious gyro meat, soft and warm pita, and your choice of a couple of Mediterranean salads.
I like to pair the gyro with tahini and tabbouleh, which are both fresh compliments to the warmth and savory flavor of the rest of the platter. Their tahini is a mix of raw ingredients, including cucumbers, green onions, garlic, sesame dressing, and diced tomatoes. And their tabbouleh, which is my favorite part of the dish, is a mix of raw diced tomatoes, cucumbers, green onion, parsley, and cracked wheat. I personally think it’s the cracked wheat that gives the tabbouleh its signature texture and taste.
The platters are not the only good picks on Ali Baba’s menu, of course. Introducing a unique fusion of American classics – like burgers, garden salads, and fries – with Mediterranean specialty foods, you could have an appetizer of dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) and then move on to a main course of a salad topped with gyro meat and their delicious, house made French fries.
Ali Baba also offers classics like hummus and baba ghannouj, a dip of blended roasted eggplant and tahini sauce, lemon juice, and garlic. And if you want to delve into a sandwich or wrap option, you have your choice of gyro, chicken, or falefel pitas, burgers, pocket-sized steak pitas, or reubens. The dessert menu offers a few Mediterranean staples, including baklava, knafa, gryebeh, and their own personal chocolate take on baklava called choclava.
If you have the chance to stop through Morgantown, skip the hustle and bustle of High Street or other crowded downtown areas and instead, enjoy your time experiencing a delicious Mediterranean meal at Ali Baba.