Tuesday, March 29, 2011


one of mike johnson's many st. louis restaurants, boogaloo sits just a couple doors down from his now defunct restaurant, el scorcho.  we've eaten at both restaurants twice, and we were relatively pleased each visit.  though el scorcho didn't survive, we haven't lost faith in the mike johnson brand, and we hope this review of boogaloo will inspire you to try at least one of mike's endeavors.


we absolutely love boogaloo's interior.  lighting is never abrasive, colors are vibrant, and paintings are big and bold.  the coolest element: boogaloo's swing-chairs at the bar.  we've not had the chance to sit at the bar, though, because it's been full both times.  one of these days... we're gonna swing, baby.  there's outdoor seating, too, in the back, and when the weather is nice (as it was on our recent visit), they open up the front window/door to let in the fresh air.  again, we just love this space.

we can't say that we're as excited about the service as we are about the decor, but service hasn't been a nightmare, either.  on this occasion, our server was courteous and helpful at the start, but then she seemed to get annoyed by our vegetarian inquiries.  for the last third of the meal, we hardly even saw her.  oh, well.  on to the food.

we're nothing if not hummus fanatics, so of course we started with boogaloo's version: curried chickpea hummus.  it's a slightly odd interpretation not because of the curry but because of the accoutrements.  we rarely see tomatoes with hummus, but it was the golden raisins that stood out as most peculiar.  the thing is, when combined with the curry, the raisins made perfect sense.  it reminded us of a firmer korma, and we love us some korma, yo.  needless to say, we devoured the hummus.  the downer: tepid "jamaican" flatbread.  this flatbread didn't contribute anything to the dish, so we ended up just using our forks as the method of transport from plate to mouth.

next up was the cuban black bean soup.  one word: brackish.  each of us took one bite and could go no further.  the salt ratio was off the charts, so we had to send it back.  of course, we can't comment on the soup beyond what our experience was on this night;  for now, we'll just chalk it up to an unfortunate accident.  still, we were bummed, as we were both looking forward to one of our favorite flavors of soup.  we'll try again next time.  (note: as a replacement, we were offered a mediocre salad.  not bad; just ordinary.)

to conclude the meal, we shared boogaloo's housemade veggie burger.  there are a number of things to like about this burger, not the least of which is the exceptional consistency: tender in the center, slightly crunchy on the outside, and chock-full of veggies.  we also love that they serve the burger with sprouts, which is an ingredient we rarely see in this area.  we understand that some folks are creeped out by them, but we quite like sprouts.  if nothing else, they pack a nutritional wallop in a small package.  the burger also comes with avocado, plump tomatoes, and your choice of cheese.  the thing that got us most excited was the housemade "volcano sauce," but we were left wondering where the heat was.  in truth, it's really more like dormant volcano.  we understand that a lot of folks don't care much for excessive heat, so we get why boogaloo erred on the side of tame.  but considering this is a creole/cuban/caribbean restaurant, we were a bit disappointed in the lack of complexity in the heat and spices.  why not go bold?  still, we enjoyed the burger quite a bit, and we'd happily order it again.  we're just sure a better sauce would make this sandwich much more memorable.

despite a few miscalculations, boogaloo offers up some pretty good grub.  vegetarians should understand, though, that the focus of this restaurant is meat and fish, and there aren't many veg options to be had.


vegetarian-friendly score:
b (vegetables are fried in the same oil as meat, but the kitchen says they'll fry veggies separately if requested.)
Boogaloo on Urbanspoon


  1. El Scorcho closed (I think) a year ago. The location is now a Las Palmas.

  2. thanks, michelle! clark momentarily forgot (what a doofus), and we're just about to fix it.