The newest addition to Memphis' newest hot spot is now open to the public. Babalu Tacos & Tapas (which has one other location in Jackson, Mississippi) serves tacos and tapas, of course, along with salads, tortas, sides to share, and specialty cocktails. I went for a soft opening this weekend, and this is what went down.
Babalu has a big open dining room with mostly tables and some booths; there's a kind of open kitchen on one end. The whole west side of the restaurant is a big bar. When I went at night, they had an old movie playing on a screen by the bar.
While I liked the direction the decor was going, I felt like there could have been more lighting and maybe a bit more color on the walls – but I've heard the management is addressing this. This was the very first day of the soft opening, after all.
The bar is open to the patio, which means you can sit at the bar inside or outside. There's patio seating along the Madison-facing sidewalk (people-watching, anyone?) and on the side.
At Babalu, servers make the guacamole tableside. Don't like onions? No problem, they can leave it out. Like your guac smooth rather than chunky? Just tell the server.
The drinks were excellent. My friend had the Praline Olé, a creamy drink topped giant coffee ice cube. It tasted like a super delicious dessert and was almost entirely alcohol and sugar: Mississippi Cathead pecan vodka, Rumchata (creamy rum?!), and pure sugar Coca-Cola.
I ordered the Babarita, their version of a margarita. The splash of pomegranate juice made it pink and yummy. And it was strong. The drinks at Babalu are not playing around. Note: they are still waiting on a beer license as of June 16, 2014.
Also to begin we ordered the queso. "Would you like to add pork belly to your queso?" the server asked us. Silly question. Of course we want pork belly in our queso.
Babalu's crab meat ceviche got an A grade from my friend who enjoys such things.
This is an order-and-share tapas place, though the menu seems amenable to just ordering your own thing as well, and maybe sharing some sides.
I spy a vegetable! They have broccolini.
These potatoes were cheesy and rich and I ate put them in a breakfast burrito the next morning, which was a great idea.
There are all kinds of tacos – lamb, shrimp, chicken, pork belly.
For dessert, there were chocolate truffles with cayenne pepper. I want to eat this again.
Babalu is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. It is ADA accessible. Check out the menu before you go if your kids are super picky eaters, but Babalu Tacos & Tapas is overall a family-friendly place. There are a couple of vegetarian options.
Babalu Tacos & Tapas
2115 Madison Avenue, Memphis, Tennesse, 38104