There were four of us, last Thursday around 7, and it was packed. We had to wait for about an hour, but I really appreciated the phone call letting us know our table was ready. More flexible and less aggravating than a loud speaker or buzzer. We started with the guacamole made table side and queso blanco with a pico shooter.
I'll start with the queso blanco. The shooter was optional, but I suggest going for it. It was pipping hot, cheesy, deliciousness and the pico de gallo was heavy on flavor. The queso was super thick, so the pico cut through the richness with bold flavor.
The guacamole made table side was interesting. I'm not sure if I would always want it made table side all the time, because, while it was nice to customize, it did interrupt dinner conversation. That's just my two cents on the actual production of it. But taste and flavor-wise, it was really really good. There were at least 5 avocados, green onions, red onions, and sun dried tomatoes, along with lime juice, salt and pepper. We asked for a mix between chunky and smooth (perfection!), and the freshness really jumps out at you. The flavors were perfectly balanced (I think a lot of guacamole is red onion heavy) and the lime juice really brightened the whole dish. This was probably the best guacamole that I have had, that wasn't homemade.
Next up, all of us ordered tacos individually and two tapas to share. I'll start with the tacos.
I did not try the Carnitas, so I can't really describe the flavor, but my friend said they were delicious. I ordered the Carne La Vaca and Patrick went with the Carne El Cerdo, with the agreement that we would switch so we could have one of each. I tried the Carne La Vaca first, and it was very tasty. It is a taco with "rosemary marinated flat iron steak, pico de gallo, salsa roja, cotija cheese." Another dish (seeing a trend here?) that the freshness and attention to detail shine through. The fresh corn tortillas have made me change my mind on the flour vs. corn debate (fresh, flaky, soft goodness) and the toppings just jump with their bold flavor. Not particularly spicy, but with enough heat that you know this is a Latin dish. The skirt steak itself was slightly underwhelming, not because it was bad at all, but it just didn't shine through the other parts of the taco and I never felt that rosemary marinade coming through. The Carne El Cerdo, is a taco with "smoked pork belly, chipotle-citrus BBQ sauce, roasted peanut slaw, and cotija cheese." This is one taco that every flavor just seemed to hit perfectly. The smoked pork belly was just that smoky, pork delicious-ness. It reminded me of the kind of smoking your favorite BBQ place does to their pork. It was a little dry, but the citrus BBQ sauce made up for that. It had a nice sweet, smoky flavor that went really well with the pork. Finally, the peanut slaw. I was hesitant about the peanut slaw. I'm pretty vanilla when it come to slaw options, but this was super tasty. It makes me want to try peanut slaw with my next pulled pork sandwich too! It added the perfect amount of saltiness and crunch to the taco, making it my favorite taco of the night.
Tamales, I'll be honest, I'm not a fan. But, it's not Babalu's fault, I promise! I am not a fan of tamales, not here, and not anywhere else. However, my friend Sarah said they were really, really good tamales, I just can't describe the flavors since I'm not a fan.
Braised beef short rib. OMG the best thing I had all night (which is pretty good considering everything was good). The beef fell apart and we could not get enough of it. The flavor was perfect, the grits tender, and the sauce decadent. The black eyed peas gave an interesting flavor/texture combo and we loved it. Seriously, it was awesome. I know I should be more descriptive with the flavor profile, but you should just try it yourself.
The best part of dinner.....
Two awesome friends....that like Babalu!
Seriously, quit reading and go eat....but when you do, come back and tell me your favorite!