Haji-Baba vs. Cafe Istanbul: Chicken Shawarma Showdown

Amy Edelen
Chicken shawarma plate at Haji-Baba

Shawarma is a popular Middle Eastern meat preparation in which chicken, beef, veal, or lamb is slow-roasted on a rotisserie. Shawarma is commonly served as a sandwich or pita bread with vegetables and dressing, but it also can be served on a plate with garlic sauce, hummus and rice.

We visited two Tempe establishments known for their delicious chicken shawarma -- Café Istanbul and Haji Baba. Read more to find out which shawarma is supreme.

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In This Corner: Haji-Baba

Amy Edelen
Dining area at Haji-Baba

The Setup: Haji-Baba is located in a small strip mall on Apache Boulevard. The establishment is split in two -- a market with specialty food items from the Middle East, Mediterranean, and Europe and the restaurant, which offers several Middle Eastern and Greek dishes such as gyros, kabobs, kafta, falafel, and shawarma.

The Good: The chicken shawarma plate ($7.99) was prepared fairly quickly and came with tabouli, rice, hummus, and pita bread. The portions were generous and enough for two meals. Our server was friendly and cracked a few jokes with us, which made the dining experience fun.

The Bad: The chicken was dry and the spicing was bitter.

Location Info

Haji Baba Middle Eastern Food

1513 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Cafe Istanbul

1310 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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My Voice Nation Help
Kristina Joy Gutiérrez
Kristina Joy Gutiérrez

HAJI has, BY FAR, the BEST chicken shawarma EVER. And I live in LA and eat at a lot of Mediterranean restaurants. No one best HB's chicken shawarma platef not even here in LA.

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