Babalu Tacos & Tapas is set to open in December in Duling Hall, in the renovated Duling School in Fondren.
Babalu will offer a variety of freshly prepared and traditionally inspired appetizers, tacos and tapas. Some of Babalu's ingredients, like vegetables and protein items, will be private sourced from local vendors.
"The trend with gourmet tacos and tapas is pretty popular around the country right now, and it's a little something different for Jackson," co-owner Bill Latham says. "The concept that we're doing seemed to fit the Fondren area just perfectly."
Appetizers include house-made guacamole, salsas and cheese dips made from specialty Mexican cheeses, and the restaurant will serve a different types of ceviche each day, including shrimp, fish and scallops.
The tapas, or small food items, will include tuna, mussels, olive, shrimp, grilled lamb loin and braised beef rib.
The tacos "are not going to be the mainstream taco you find traditionally in the Jackson area," co-owner Al Roberts says. The soft corn tortillas are prepared fresh, and you'll find a South American influence in the sauces. The taco choices include braised pulled pork, smoked pork belly, fresh fish of the day and rotisserie chicken.
"There's a lot of popularity now about street foods and ethnic type foods that are easier to share, that several people can sit down and share together," Roberts says. "That's what we're trying to emulate here."
Executive Chef David Ferris is a Jackson native who has also served as the executive chef of Mint and the Delta steakhouse Giardina's. The kitchen is open, so diners will be able to watch their food be prepared.
Babalu is located on the first floor of Duling Hall facing Old Canton Road. In a former incarnation, this space was where Latham's wife attended first grade.
- Dave Coleman