I haven’t posted a lot about food, so here’s my chance to talk about an amazing little spot. Quick, cheap, and a great place to get together with friends, Babalu in Overton Square is a blast.
The restaurant started in Jackson, MS, so if not the true definition of local, it’s definitely close. Walking in, you’re immediately greeted by very friendly hosts, a laid-back atmosphere filled with awesome posters, the smell of yummy tacos, and the sound of chips and guac being crunched and munched. I’ve been there a few times already from having small parties with my parents to a group of over 15 people, and they are always willing to accommodate. There is even a comfy outdoor area that gives you the vibe that you are not even in a restaurant. Pretty much what I’m trying to say is that you have to go if you have not already.
But let’s get to the real deal: The menu! I come from the East Coast where you have access to cuisine from all over the globe. Babalu is Latin-inspired and has an authentic feel, but not so much that you may feel out of place. Of the chips and dips, I suggest trying the Queso blanco dip, add chicken for extra deliciousness. I mean, who doesn’t love cheese, and it’s so fresh and goes great with guac. Since the tacos and tapas are small servings, you can try several menu items in one visit. The variety of tacos keeps you coming back for more. I personally love the veggie taco and the duck taco. Both are so savory and tender, and you have the option of corn or flour tortillas. I washed them down with a watermelon margarita, which was very refreshing!
Besides having lots of great restaurants, Overton Square is also an arts district with multiple theatres close by. After eating, I walked around the corner to see Ballet Memphis perform Next Steps at Playhouse on the Square. I had just danced in Collage dance Collective’s season opener, so it was great to be in the audience and watch some dance for a change.
Ballet Memphis performed three new works. The first piece, “Sa Voix,” choreographed by Julie Marie Niekrasz, really brought forth the romantic era of ballet. The highlight for me was the duet featuring Crystal Brothers and Jared Brunson, whom I got a chance to share the stage with this past summer. They were just wonderful to watch. They paired very well and, in Crystal’s artistry, you were able to feel her vulnerability. It was beautiful to see featured dancer Olivia Powell and the rest of the cast spring through the stage with such strength and grace.
The second piece was my personal favorite, “Vanguard,” choreographed by the Associate Artistic Director, Steven McMahon. He did a great job featuring the artists in the true tradition of ballet. Everything from the lines, the music, the gorgeous tutus and the language of the choreography was just stunning. He also challenged ballet companies to break barriers that we have in the art form, and it was just so nice to see a ballet piece that was so diverse, both in the artists dancing and how they danced.
Lastly, “A Distant Glimmer: Catherine de Medici” choreographed by Mark Godden was so creatively done and really made you laugh! Following the “real” story of how ballet began, the movement, narration, and costumes keep you engaged and amused. You respect how much these dancers had to master to get through the work. It was fantastic!
I love that I’ve had the chance to work with and get to know many of the Ballet Memphis dancers. Many of them have come to see Collage, and our dancers go see them perform. They’re amazing to hang out with. Why? Because dancers are like the coolest people you will ever meet. We are chill, easy going, yet know how to “turn up”!!! Many of the dancers and I have talked about one day collaborating for a performance. I encourage you to go out and support the arts here. Support Ballet Memphis, Collage dance Collective, Opera Memphis, Stax Music Academy, and the many other great organizations that we have. I’m looking forward to seeing more performances from all of them.