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Babalu Tacos & Tapas opens Nov. 23 in downtown Knoxville

November 18, 2015

Nov. 17, 2015

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Lauren Miller
Moxley Carmichael


On Monday, Nov. 23, Babalu Tacos & Tapas will open its doors on Gay Street to serve its authentic, gourmet tacos and small plates to Knoxville.

Founded in Jackson, Mississippi, Babalu Tacos & Tapas also operates in Birmingham, Alabama, and Memphis, Tennessee. The Knoxville restaurant is located at 412 S. Gay St., and will open daily at 11 a.m. for lunch and dinner. Closing times will vary from 10 p.m. from Monday-Thursday; 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and 9 p.m. on Sunday.

“Knoxville feels like home already, and now we’re excited to share our love of high-quality, handcrafted food and drinks with our friends and neighbors here,” said Jay Roberts, director of operations for Babalu Tacos & Tapas. “We couldn’t have picked a better opportunity for our new location than renovating the old JC Penney building in the heart of historic downtown Knoxville. We’re excited for everyone to see inside, and most importantly, to experience Babalu-style dining.”

Babalu Tacos & Tapas Knoxville

Babalu Tacos & Tapas, located at 412 S. Gay St., in downtown Knoxville.

The unique menu at Babalu Tacos & Tapas features gourmet tacos and small plates, such as Scottish salmon and a mouthwatering Baba Burger, served tapas-style and brought to the dining table as they are prepared. Guests are encouraged to order a variety of items for everyone at the table to sample and share.

Mississippi-native JT Dewitt is the Knoxville general manager, and Indianapolis-native and longtime Birmingham chef Warren Weiss is the executive chef. A total of 150 employees have been hired to work on the restaurant’s culinary and hospitality teams.

Weiss works with local partners and farmers to prepare the daily features with the freshest ingredients and integrate his local twist with the Babalu menu. The restaurant also has a full-service bar, including seasonal margaritas and other handcrafted specialty cocktails.

Before opening Nov. 23, the restaurant will host private pre-opening parties on Nov. 20-21. These events not only serve as a training opportunity for staff, but also benefit two local nonprofit organizations via a portion of the weekend’s proceeds: The Pat Summitt Foundation and Beardsley Farm.

“Supporting our local community is important to the Babalu team, so it’s only fitting to kick off our Knoxville opening by giving back to two well-deserving nonprofits,” Roberts said.

To learn more about Babalu Tacos & Tapas, visit, like the Facebook page at and follow @BabaluKnox on Instagram and Twitter.

About Babalu Tacos & Tapas

Babalu Tacos & Tapas is a lively restaurant that uses fresh and local ingredients to create bold flavors. You will find a variety of authentic gourmet tacos and Spanish-style tapas with a Southern twist. Every item on the menu, down to the blue corn tortilla, is made from scratch daily – our famous guacamole is prepared tableside. Our bar carries the finest tequilas, and all drinks are handcrafted daily using fresh squeezed lemons and limes. For more information, visit

Maria Cornelius