Atlanta is renowned for its entertainment, sports scene, headquarters of some of the world’s most influential corporations and culinary scene to name a few of its many accolades. Referring to the latter, the Roswell-based Eat Here Brands restaurant holding company cleverly embraced Georgia capital’s expansive cultural diversity and introduced the seventh location of its Latin-inspired concept, Babalu Tapas & Tacos, to usher in the end of summer.
Situated in Midtown on the corner of West Peachtree Street and Peachtree Place at the base of the mixed-use development—33 Peachtree Place—Babalu’s 5,200-square-foot facility immediately entices pedestrians, building occupants and the steady flow of traffic to go al fresco with their patio that extends around the corner; it is consistently packed with patrons happily conversing, dining and imbibing while served by smiling staff members. The indoor-outdoor bar and rolling garage door serve as resourceful barriers to take advantage of Atlanta’s clement weather while exposing Babalu’s festive indoor atmosphere.
Upon entrance, guests are welcomed by mambo-inducing tunes such as Santana’s “Oye Como Va,” percussive plates, and multiple spirited discussions filling the air. The industrial-chic decor flaunts a wood-paneled ceiling, hanging light fixtures, retro movie posters, and a vast collection of wine bottles sitting on shelves. But arguably the most captivating attraction is the far wall; it boasts a large screen fittingly exhibiting episodes of the popular 1950s sitcom starring Lucille Ball, I Love Lucy, since the restaurant’s name pays homage to the show’s popular song often performed by co-star Ricky Ricardo played by Desi Arnaz.
But even with the plethora of visual and audible stimuli, it’s what comes out of the spacious open kitchen that is the main contributor to Babalu’s steadily increasing popularity. The prominent orange script on the white-tiled wall just above the industrious cooking staff advises all diners on how to properly experience its fare, stating, “Yours. Mine. Ours. Food Worth Sharing.”
Birthed from the culinary genius of executive chef Jeffrey McGar, menu selections are successfully balanced with Latin influences and traditional Down South home cooking. To promote a communal vibe, the picturesque tapas are the most popular, but still share the spotlight with nine taco variations, soups, appetizers, tortas, and sandwiches like the Spice Seared Tuna “BLC.” House favorites include the Gulf Shrimp & Grits; Pan Roasted Redfish; Braised Chicken Tamales; House Smoked Chicken Wings; and Babalu Chop Salad. An impressive selection of local craft brews, signature margaritas, three house-made sangrias, inventive cocktails such as the Jalisco Mule, and an array of wines perfectly keep everyone’s palates refreshed.
After greeting a table of customers who have already frequented Babalu twice since its opening a week prior, general manager Dahlio Cheatam was asked about the restaurant’s mission. Motioning to one of his servers preparing their famous guacamole tableside using fresh Hass avocados coupled with toasted house chips, Cheatam answered, “Our goal is for the guests to know how much we appreciate their visit. We want to make sure that they leave happy and we take pride in that every minute of every day.”