We had our one-year Vegan Drinks-aversary tonight! A year ago in July, a group of Memphis vegans met up for happy hour at Chiwawa, a vegan-friendly taco joint in Overton Square with snazzy margaritas. And so it was fitting that tonight, a year later, we met for tacos again in Overton Square. But this time, we gathered at Babalu.
Here's Cassi and Nathan.
Babalu is fairly new, and most of us hadn't been yet. They have tacos, tapas, fancy cocktails, and tableside guac. And upon inspection of their menu, it looked like they had a few veganizable options. They don't take reservations, but I Facebook-messaged them to expect a large number of vegans. They told me they'd have a server ready to explain what we could and couldn't eat.
And they did! His name was Brandon, and he was awesome. He informed us that Babalu's sour mix contains egg whites, but they were happy to sub lemonade for any drink that called for sour mix. Cassi made that substitution with her Champarita (sparkling wine, agave nectar, lemonade, triplesec), and it was delicious.
I went with the TC Tea (sweet tea vodka, mint, lemon, powdered sugar, sprite). Wow. This may be my new favorite fancy cocktail. I've long been a fan of sweet tea vodka, but this was the perfect combo of flavors. And the sprite added a nice bit of bubbly.
Jennifer went with a Cat 5 (Cathead vodka, mint, agave nectar, soda, lime, bitters).
And Pam opted for Babalu's twist on the margarita — the Baba-rita (Patron Silver, agave nectar, Patron Citronge, lemonade, POM
1) — with the lemonade subbed for sour mix. Stephanie and her kid Peter are totally photo-bombing!
Autumn had a glass of the Red Sangria.
And Cassi's second drink was the Rose Sangria, or the "pink sangria" as she called it. When the server asked if she wanted "red, white, or rose," Cassi just said "pink." Yep, that's Cassi.
After I finished my TC Tea, I went with my current favorite local brew — High Cotton Scottish Ale. It's so creamy and almost chocolatey. Love it! Babalu gives you the option of ordering a 14-ounce beer or a 20-ounce beer. Of course, I chose the 20-ounce!
Now we might have drank a fair amount, but I promise we ate too! Babalu has a few vegan options, but we mostly all ordered the same thing. Vegetal Tacos (with summer squash, crimini mushroom, radish, corn, red onion, chipotle vinaigrette, and arugula). These come with goat cheese, but it can easily be left off.
We all loved the tacos! The shells were light and pillowy. The veggies were perfectly cooked and perfectly seasoned, and the chipotle vinaigrette was smoky and spicy. I even liked the arugula! And I generally hate arugula.
On the side, several of us ordered Tableside Guacamole. Our server Brandon made it fresh right there!
And each order made a ton! I think each bowl had two and a half or three avocados! This guac was insane, mostly because of the genius addition of sundried tomatoes. I will always add those to my guac now.
Stephanie also ordered Chips and Pico for her kid Peter. But he's, like, three or something, and he decided he just wanted chips. So we ate his pico. It was fresh and tasty.
The service at Babalu was fantastic, and the food was outstanding. And of course, the cocktails were expertly crafted and delicious. Bonus: There's a mouthwash dispenser in the bathroom with tiny disposable cups! So you can freshen your breath after eating all that oniony guac and pico.
We'll definitely be back here for Vegan Drinks in the future.