Babalu Tacos & Tapas
The monkeys (Satchel, 12, and Jiro, 10) were out of school on Friday, so I took the day off to hang out with them. After a lovely hike at Shelby Farms Park, we returned to Midtown and invited Warren to have lunch with us. Since Babalu continues to have people lined up waiting to get in almost every time I drive by, I thought we should check it out. (Warren and Satchel had previously been for lunch, and I'd been a couple of times for drinks and apps.)
We arrived around 2:00pm and did not have to wait for a seat on the front patio, but the restaurant was surprisingly full for that time of day. I think the main appeal of Babalu is it's location--it is perfectly situated for people watching. And the space is really nice--both inside and outside. I especially love the side patio that opens into the restaurant.
Ok, back to the patio. Our hostess was insistent that the monkeys have kids' menus. She wanted them to color and she noted that she loved the chicken tenders and fries and often ordered them for herself. She did throw in that she was in art school, and said that she still liked to color. Satchel agreed to color, but he wanted to order from the main menu.
Jiro immediately started doing the puzzles and said he wanted a steak taco from the kids menu.
Warren and I were more focused on the drink menu, and getting some guacamole to the table. The waitress carded us both, and I do believe it made Warren's day.
In terms of the guacamole, we were asked some pretty hard questions, like "Do you want bacon and jalapenos?" I was in favor, but figured the jalapenos would ruin it for the monkeys. Later, when I noted that we should have maybe just gotten the bacon all three dudes sighed and said, "I didn't hear the bacon part."
Warren, Satchel and I decided on what we wanted and then put in our order. (I had to amend my decision to get the "fish of the day" taco when the waitress said the fish of the day was "gator.")
Then the waitress said, "We design everything for sharing, so is it ok if we just send things out as they are ready?" We all looked at each other and then I said, "We aren't sharing." So she said she'd bring everything together, except the guacamole of course.
Our drinks came and we settled in.
Warren had a 20 oz. Dos Equis ($6.50??) and I had a Babarita ($11.50!). The drinks are not cheap, people. And I will now say from experience that the Babarita may be a bit strong for lunch.
After the drinks came the guacamole. Babalu has Service Assistants whose only job is to make guacamole all day every day.
They make it at the table, which seems to be very popular. (They also do it at the Mexican place over by Whole Foods. Can't think of the name right now.) And they make it fast. It took about 30 seconds.
We were also told that the chips were made in house. Jiro said it was the best guacamole of his life. Satchel retorted, "Have you ever had any other guacamole?"
Jiro thought about it and said, "Yes, at Chipotle." So there you have it, Mr. Picky ranks Babalu's guac #1.
Before we could polish off the guac, our food started coming out. First up, the kids taco.
Yup, that's pretty much the saddest kids' "meal" I have ever seen. Ok, ok, yes the menu clearly states the option is a taco, singular, but c'mon. When I asked the waitress what they were charging for this meal, she didn't know. Then she said, "The kids' menu is designed for little kids, not fully grown boys." That's fine, but maybe tell your hostess not to foist the menu on kids and then talk about how filling the chicken tenders are? Anyway, Jiro liked the taco and wanted another one, but the waitress got held up helping someone move something and by the time she came back, he was full of chips. But, FYI, the taco was $1.50. I think that is an excellent price point. I think the cost should be on the menu, and "fully grown boys" should be encouraged to order 2-3.
*steps off of soap box*
My tacos were much better. I had the tuna, oyster and shrimp.
Satchel has been craving tamales since we went to Mi Mexico and he was very pleased with his order.
Warren got the Cuban sandwich and a side of rice and beans, which were later doctored up with the rejected garnish from Satchel's tamales.
I don't really get how these items are considered tapas and made for sharing, but I'll get over it. Maybe the tacos, but if you get three different ones are you really going to pass each one around and let everyone taste? No, no you aren't.
But whatever, I love sitting on a patio.
Our final bill came to $63.67 which was a tad shocking. (Add up the alcohol and guac and that explains most of it, but keep in mind Jiro's lunch was $1.50.) I will return, but probably not with the monkeys.