Passing things can be one of mankind's most enjoyable experiences, be it blame, college entrance exams, or attractive strangers. Today's deal gives you the joy of passing plates: for $13, you'll get $30 worth of tapas, Cuban-Creole cuisine, and libations at Boogaloo. Replacing standard bar stools with swings earned the game-changing Maplewood watering hole the Riverfront Times award for Best Place to Swing 2006.
Nostalgic patrons can revisit playground days thanks to the energetic eatery's use of creative seating. Pendulate back and forth on thick wooden swings as you peruse the tropical tastes and tapas flooding Boogaloo's menu. Sharable savories include Caribbean-spiked plates such as jerk chicken wings with coconut rundown sauce ($7.50), calamari kicked up with Creole sauce and olive relish ($8.50), and island-style pork ribs sided with mango slaw and an Appleton rum barbecue glaze ($8.25). For a more ambitious eat, the hearty sandwiches beg the assistance of two hands and a lap full of napkins. Try the fried grouper, slathered with key-lime aioli and cozened inside a hoagie roll ($8.50). Entrees include everything from a pasta dish to seafood ($12.95–$21.95).
A friendly, experienced staff, specialty sangrias and mojitos, and a boisterous ambience make the Maplewood restaurant a budget-friendly spring-break alternative. Self-propelled seating not only offers a playful distraction and impromptu exercise routine, but also helps serve as a kind reminder not to drink too much at dinner. Open for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner nightly except Sundays, Boogaloo is a multi-sensory stop for flirtatious lovebirds, aspiring acrobats, the young at heart, and the young at body.
Boogaloo was voted as a Sauce magazine Readers' Choice Favorite from 2006 to 2009 and took second in the vote for Favorite Cajun/Creole and South American/Pan-Latin 2009. The Riverfront Times awarded Boogaloo Best Place to Swing 2006, and Chef Mike Johnson received the award for Best Local Chef 2006. The Riverfront Times and Gayot highly recommend the swings and the delicious offerings:
- There are actual swings, yes, positioned along the bar: handsome planks of dark-stained, cushioned wood, fastened to metal beams above with lines of military cord. We dangled and swayed, got our swerve on, knocked our boots against the bar's impressive mahogany as we slurped away on Boogaloo's fantastic cocktails...At the end of our first meal at Boogaloo, my friends and I spilled forth onto the sidewalk gleeful and giddy, flush with love for our latest restaurant crush. We felt a little silly walk-of-shaming it back to our cars, embarrassed by how much we'd consumed, how boisterous we'd been, how much fun we'd had. There's really no shame in loving Boogaloo this much, though. In fact, don't call it shame. Call it afterglow. – Rose Martelli, Riverfront Times
- The point of Boogaloo, of course, is the food; the menu begins around New Orleans and heads south, presumably via banana boat, to cover the Caribbean and a little of South America as well. Thus, it's all Cuban sandwiches, a paella-esque seafood and rice dish and jerk chicken wings, which, by the by, are topnotch. – Gayot
In the late 1960s, a new music craze hit the scene. English lyrics and a unique fusion of rhythm and blues with Cuban stylings helped the boogaloo quickly capture the attention of audiences across the country. And though Boogaloo—the restaurant—isn’t known for its music, it’s not hard to see the logic behind its name. Just as the fusion of musical styles engaged listeners, Chef Dan Powers engrosses diners with his menu of Cuban specialties laced with Caribbean and creole elements.
Pressed Cuban sandwiches layered with pork, ham, and swiss cheese vie for attention with Jamaican jerk chicken—smoked in-house—and shrimp po’ boys buried in housemade rémoulade. Elegantly plated tapas, such as crispy crab empanadas and Jamaican beef patties, make for lighter, shareable meals.
Those who want to forgo food in favor of specialty cocktails can grab a mojito or glass of sangria and race to one of the bar’s popular swing seats, so named because of their refusal to vote predictably.