We stopped for lunch at a corner restaurant in Santa Monica called Babalu. Our first impression was a good one. The establishment’s exterior motif displayed a Caribbean appeal with a Cuban flair. Bamboo and wooden blinds enhance the island feel, while inside the ambiance is continued. If you close your eyes for a moment once seated, you might almost believe that you aren’t on the mainland anymore…but on a tropical island with the wind blowing past you and bongo drums on hand to match the rhythm of the island atmosphere around you…
Bamboo ceilings, ceiling fans, tropical hues and an upbeat and eclectic decor inside the restaurant keep the carefree feeling flowing, while a friendly and courteous waitstaff attends to your requests.
On our last visit to Babalu, we weren’t quite sure what to select from their extensive array of available options. It all sounded so delicious. The interior was relaxing, the seats were comfortable, and the cuisine being served around us to other patrons appeared colorful and smelled amazing.
After perusing the menu for longer than we probably should have, we decided on a couple of entrees for lunch…
My husband selected the Turkey Burger, which was a blend of lightly spiced ground white turkey and bell pepper topped with fresh slices of avocado, grilled zucchini and fried leeks on a sesame Kaiser roll and slaw on the side. A choice of fries or a salad accompanied that, and it was all for just $11. This was a tender, expertly prepared and juicy turkey burger. One of the best we’ve tasted in a while. The sesame Kaiser roll used as a bun was soft and tasty and the slaw was crunchy and sweet with crisp, hot fries alongside.
Babalu Tacos With Roasted Vegetables
I chose the Babalu Tacos to enjoy. This dish comes with two soft shell flour tortillas stuffed with fresh avocado, Pico De Gallo, cheddar and jalapeno jack cheeses and crunchy lettuce and Napa cabbage. Black beans and a sensational pineapple-coconut rice is served on the side. I decided on the roasted vegetables to accompany my tacos for $11, however, you can instead add tender sliced chicken for $12, fish (Mahi Mahi) for $14 or grilled shrimp for $15.
Both choices were savory, enjoyable and we both agreed that we would order them again and recommend them to others. A terrific spot along charming Montana Avenue among an array of shops and eateries. Sometimes it can get confusing knowing where to go. Most times, it’s a good idea to eat where the locals do. Babalu falls into that category, because this is certainly a locals favorite!
Oh, and don’t forget that Babalu was selected as one of AOL’s ‘Top Ten of the City’s Best Desserts’! So don’t be shy to try a slice of one of the sumptuous sweet temptations before you leave. Or just order an entire creation to take home or give as a much-appreciated gift!
- ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Fun Caribbean and Cuban feel with an island ambiance!
- FOOD / DRINK: Fresh vegetables, ambrosial cuisine options and refreshing presentations.
- LOCATION: Babalu is located at 1002 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, CA 90403.
- HOURS: Open for breakfast from 8 AM – 11:30 AM Saturdays and Sundays, brunch from 11:30 AM – 5 PM on Saturdays and Sundays, lunch from 11 AM – 5 M Monday through Fridays then for dinner 5 PM – 10 PM on Sundays through Thursdays and again from 5 PM – 11 PM for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, there are many options of times during the day in which you can enjoy Babalu’s fine offerings. (Closing hours sometimes vary, so just call ahead is you’re planning a late bite!)
- SERVICE / STAFF: We encountered friendly efficient service and witnessed the same being offered to customers around us.
- PRICE / VALUE: $11 for each of our entrees at lunch? For the quality of the food provided and the casual, yet Caribbean ambiance, we were not at all disappointed.
- CORKAGE FEE:$15 per 750ml bottle.
- CONTACT INFO: Phone: (310) 395-2500, Website: www.babalu.info
- PARKING: Metered street parking is available along Montana Avenue as well as nearby side streets.
- TOTAL BILL: Our final bill came in just over $30 for a couple of drinks, the Turkey burger and the Babalu Tacos with roasted vegetables.
* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.