If you ever stumble across Babia in Barcelona, Spain, kudos to you because this tapas bar is a fantastic local spot in the backstreets of the Gòtic area. Luckily it was steps away from our Airbnb accommodation and less than a 5 minute walk from La Catedral. It took us several attempts to locate this gem during open hours after learning that most local restaurants didn't open until noon for lunch or 5pm for dinner.
It was a hot sunny day in early September 2013. My partner and I were slightly exhausted from a full day biking 3 kilometers north to see the Sagrada Familia, then 4 kilometers down south to the Barceloneta beach by the harbourfront. We arrived at Babia around 6pm before it started to fill up quickly. To our delight, there were hardly any tourists.
We grabbed a seat at a table and ordered a bottle of house vino for 7.50 euros. Wine is arguably just as cheap as water in Spain, so it was standard to order a bottle with every meal. Our waiter spoke a bit of English and was really helpful in explaining and recommending the menu based on our preferences.
When in Spain, you cannot leave without trying their homemade tapas! The croquetas were delicious and the texture had the right amount of crisp. Once you sink your teeth into them, your taste buds are acquainted with loads of flavour from the meat which was cooked to the right temperature.
Next was the charcuterie platter with heavenly slices of Jamon Iberico and cheese. Jamon Iberico is native to Spain and cured for at least 24 months depending on the type of pigs' diets. It's no wonder that you'll see large chunks of "jamon" hanging like prized trophies in many restaurants. As a first timer to Spain, words cannot explain how authentic the experience was. I will never look at cured ham the same again.
The food was very reasonably priced for travelers on a budget. The total came to 30 euros split between the two of us. I was satisfied with the portion sizes, and I'm sure my body thanked me for all that protein replenishment after a day's worth of biking. The atmosphere was lively, casual and relaxed. One side was decorated with an assortment of quirky artwork, wine boxes, and an upright piano lined up against a brick wall - which added a nice "dive" appeal. Babia is great for those with crowd-phobia and if you're like me who avoids tourists traps, this is the place to be.