Aladin's Grill opens in Ybor City at an unlikely location: A Sunoco gas station

“It seems counter intuitive,” co-owner Adeel Kazim said. “People don’t really think of fresh food at a gas station.”
Aladin’s Grill opened at the Sunoco gas station in Ybor City in June. [DIVYA KUMAR | Times]
Aladin’s Grill opened at the Sunoco gas station in Ybor City in June. [DIVYA KUMAR | Times]
Published August 7

Ybor City — Adeel Kazim and his siblings, Adnan and Armeen, grew up in New Jersey as “foodies.”

They watched the Food Network as kids and devoured Chef’s Table on Netflix as adults. Their favorite part about visiting New York City was the halal food carts with roasted meat. One woman they remembered, who constantly had long lines, made the best chicken and rice. And no matter how many times they tried to reverse engineer it or beg her for the recipe, they couldn’t match it.

“But we wanted to bring that halal cart, chicken and rice vibe to Ybor City,” Adeel Kazim said.

Kazim, whose background is in video production, said he’s never worked in the restaurant industry, but said when an opportunity came about to open a restaurant at the Sunoco Gas Station, 2309 N 22nd St., the siblings pooled together their resources and opened two months ago.

“It seems counter intuitive,” he said. “People don’t really think of fresh food at a gas station.”

The restaurant offers salads, platters and sandwiches and offers delivery via GrubHub. While the menu is tweaked a little each week, sometimes featuring chicken shawarma quesadillas, shrimp or steak or a Cuban-sandwich inspired shawarma sandwich with provolone cheese on saj bread, the staples rotate around the chicken shawarma, which Kazim said he marinates every night and roasts on a spit and slices fresh every day.

Kazim said though he’s always playing with the menu, he enjoys the staples the best.

“I’ve been eating my wrap and chicken and rice every day,” he said. “I went to Toronto, which is a foodie city, and missed my own food.”

Aladin’s Grill is open Monday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m., on Friday from noon to 4 p.m. and on Saturday from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Contact Divya Kumar at dkumar@tampabay.com. Follow @divyadivyadivya.

Advertisement