Aladdin Express: Hookahs, graffiti, and grime, oh my!

It would be too obvious to reference genies and magic carpet rides for this one. So let’s keep it simple: Here’s a lady’s take on the facilities at one of Richmond’s favorite spots for Middle Eastern cuisine: Aladdin Express.

The skinny:

One individual bathroom, one chance to escape the hookah smoke.


The graffiti, the graffiti, a thousand times, the graffiti! This bathroom should be a must-see during your Richmond travels. Don’t miss the “Smoke Til Ya Eyes Bleed” tag above the sink, and for a special bonus, look closely at the wall opposite the toilet. You should be able to see the words “Albus + Aberforth 4 eva,” which someone tried to wash off the wall. If you have to deface some poor business owner’s bathroom, at least it was for hilarity’s sake. Another pro is that toilet paper and soap are almost always available here: two things that make most of the cons bearable as far as I’m concerned. I’ve also never had to wait in line for this bathroom.


There’s nowhere to hang your purse. The floor is usually filthy, which doesn’t help the purse situation, and don’t even think about setting that purse on the back of the toilet. It’s filthy there, too. Actually it’s filthy everywhere. This is one bathroom that is rarely cleaned, so if stench and visible bacteria colonies make you squeamish, try elsewhere.

Aladdin Express Restaurant
801 W Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 359-8500

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Tess Shebaylo

Tess Shebaylo is a freelance writer, crafter, history geek, and compulsive organizer. She works at Tumblr and lives in Church Hill with her daughter, Morella.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Chris Wolf on said:

    cash only? wtf?

  2. Daniel on said:

    Why must one read all the way through your article before learning Where TF you’re writing about?

  3. I became a fan of Alladin’s in ’98 before the renovation. Back then the employees would smoke while making your (super-delicious) falafel and then they would roll out a carpet on the floor not far from your wobbly table and kneel toward Mecca in prayer while you dipped your curly fries in catchup. The bathroom was pretty unsanitary then, matching their perfected greasy spoon dive aesthetic and ethic. Ever since they renovated there has been a physical and a professional barrier. Although they may have cleaned up their act, it sounds like it’s taken this long for the bathrooms to become properly seasoned, befitting the Alladin’s mystique. Get the falafel togo and eat it with packets of Texas Pete while walking down Broad Street.

  4. @Daniel: I changed the title as per your comment. MY FAULT! Don’t blame Tess!

  5. kate on said:

    i wish they still delivered =/

  6. Love the Aladdin Stromboli, and yes, its cash only.

    And I’m a little confused, this review is just of the bathrooms???

  7. tess,

    how dare you only give Aladdin’s only two stars. Aladdins has always been there for me when I’ve needed them most. I mean, they say they are only open until 3, but believe me, you got an itch that only a falafel pita & motz sticks will scratch at 3:30 or 4AM, the man comes through, solid every time.

  8. Brian on said:

    I called at 3:59 am > Ordered 2 Falafels, Grape Leaves, Tabouli, and Mediterranean Meat Pies, Delivery, it was Amazing. I refer the latenight crowd to Aladdin anyways for their pizza.

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