By Gina Ruccione, Restaurant and Cuisine Writer
If you are a true foodie like I am, then you have a running list of restaurants ready to take on at a moment’s notice. My current list is so long, it’s exhausting. I actually slip into a food coma just looking at it. Truth be told, I could eat out every day for the rest of my life and still not cross every “t” and dot every “i” on my list. There’s simply not enough time in one’s lifetime, let alone my own.
I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, please— spare me. This woman is young. She has plenty of time.”
Fine. But hear me out. Age argument aside, I’d like to think that I’m pragmatic. I know better than anyone that eating out can be costly and even more time consuming.
And with regards to beating the clock, well — let’s just say, when it comes to both my relationships with restaurants or me, I don’t fear commitment. I fear wasting time.
My job as a food writer is to inform, entertain, but I also need to be somewhat discerning. I choose my time out wisely. Taking into account the opportunity cost of every dining experience leads me to this conclusion: every eatery serves a different purpose.
If you’re looking for a lively evening with plenty of food and entertainment then you need to go to Babouch in San Pedro. I’ve driven past the place on a weekly basis, but hadn’t been inside in more than 25 years. If you’ve never been, you need to go. If you haven’t been for a while, here’s why you should go back.
Babouch is the full package—not just dinner, but an experience. The Moroccan eatery resembles a movie set. The low tables and fabulous rugs seem to glow in the dim lighting, under a tent-like canopy. Before dining, rosewater is brought to the tables for guests to wash their hands. And what would dinner be like without the belly dancers and tarot card readings? Well, it probably wouldn’t be as fun.
April marks Babouch’s 38th anniversary, and time has brought some changes. Don’t worry, your favorites are still on the menu. But that menu now boasts craft beer and wine, interesting cocktails and artisanal bread. Most importantly, the prices are lower.
Come with group of friends. Come prepared to hang out for awhile. Come hungry. Make reservations and make a night of it. Order several appetizers, especially the spicy “cigars,” which basically consist of sautéed beef, onions and peppers, minced and wrapped in light, flaky filo dough. Have your fill of those, then move on to the prix fixe menu. There are six courses, which allow you to navigate through several options. If you like sweets, the lamb entrée with honey and roasted almonds would most definitely suit your fancy. If you’re like me and tend to veer away from sweets, I recommend the beef tri tip kabobs. Six courses later, driving home felt like a Lamaze class; I ate so much, I had to learn how to breathe again.
But did I dance with the belly dancer? Abso-fuckin-lutely.
Details: (310) 831-0246
Venue: Babouch Restaurant, 810 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro
Gina Ruccione has traveled all over Europe and Asia and has lived in almost every nook of Los Angeles County. You can visit her website at www.foodfashionfoolishfornication.com.