Big, tasty menu at Babalu

August 15th, 2014        —        Babalu Tacos & Tapas, News

By: Jennifer Biggs, Commercial Appeal

Be careful describing Babalu, because it would be easy to get it wrong. There’s a taco menu and the tableside guacamole is a signature item — but it’s not a Mexican restaurant. There’s a nice selection of tapas, but this isn’t a Spanish tapas bar. And there’s a lovely cocktail menu along with bar grub such as burgers and sandwiches, but it’s not a bar.

It’s a little of all of it, with a decided Southern — whether the U.S. South or south of the U.S. border — flavor. Empanadas and patatas bravas lend the Spanish touch (the latter listed on the menu an item or two above sweet potato fries); numerous items represent Mexico, including a wide selection of tequilas, though not the tamales: Those are pure South, Delta-style made by Hot Tamale Heaven in Greenville.

It’s a formula that works and folks are clamoring to Babalu, which opened in June in the space long occupied by TGI Friday’s in Overton Square. The large space opens to a patio to the west and one to the street, and a big bar is an indoor/outdoor one in the west patio. When temperatures are agreeable, garage doors are open to connect the front patio to the main dining room. “I Love Lucy” episodes are projected on the walls; if you think for a second, you’ll make the leap that “Babalu” was Ricky Ricardo’s signature number at the Tropicana nightclub.

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