Wanted to weigh in on a new restaurant I tried out this week. Babalu Tacos and Tapas has opened up at the Duling Street complex in Fondren. It's in some of the space the old Auditorium used to occupy. I'd been following them on Facebook prior to opening, and I was excited to try them out when they began serving lunch last week. Here's the skinny:
First of all, park down near the sign for the restaurant. If you park up where you used to park to get into The Auditorium, you'll be too far down. The entrance is right where you see the pretty outdoor tables and green umbrellas.
The inside of the place has a Cuban feel, with washed-out blues on the walls and a spare aesthetic. They had a noiseless episode of The I Love Lucy Show projected onto the wall, showing off Ricky Ricardo at about 15 feet tall! The restaurant specializes in small plates, so you'll have the opportunity to try several things when you visit. I chose the calamari (very very good, with a masa flour coating), the Mexican corn (delicious roasted on the cob, with a cheesy, buttery sauce. I would have preferred, though, for lunch, if they'd cut the corn OFF the cob after roasting and then added the mix-ins, serving in a bowl with a fork. Corn on the cob is a bit messy for lunch on a weekday.), and the chicken empanadas (which were tasty enough, but lacked the zip of chili, lime, cilantro, etc. that I was expecting).
As I watched the other tables receive their orders, I began wishing we had gotten some of the dips on the menu as well. The guacamole is made table side with a stone mortar and pestle (much like Dos Caminos in Las Vegas), and the quesos and salsas looked really really good. In addition, the drink menu looked fun.
Verdict - This would be a perfect place for drinks and appetizers after work with friends. (Or a place to duck into during Fondren After 5 or Fondren Unwrapped.) If you're starving, though, don't go, because it will take several small plates to fill you up.