I have to say, my first thought upon breezing into BabelBar on my preliminary evaluation was “why isn’t this place packed?” Although this little oasis just off the Rio Cuale bridge in the heart of the city certainly isn’t bereft of business, the array of amenities on hand made this comfortable scene into a seemingly natural setting for a leisurely lunch or even pretending to get a little work done. I knew as soon as I arrived I’d be back, and that’s really all it takes to get 600 words out of me.
The Vibes: On a typical Friday night, BabelBar is home to a functional tribute to its biblical namesake, a weekly language exchange that invites locals and leisure linguists from around the world to hone their skills in Spanish, English, French, and other languages while enjoying a fine beverage, or five. It’s a constructive and convenient community resource that also appreciates a good play on words, and I want to be more like it one day.
On my official visit, the Friday in question was also BabelBar’s first anniversary celebration. After offering a guided tour of the premises from the main river deck to the bonfire of Babel Beach, directly on the shore, the eminently charming Arancha was kind enough to invite me back for the event’s live music and free raicilla shots. It was quite the jazzy evening, but you already knew that from the pictures.
The Vices: Look, it’s right on the label…BabelBar is a bar, and as such, features a selection of standby spirits as well as a collection of cocktails and specialty drinks. It also has a full all day dining menu, and among the standouts are the Roquefort salad, abundant with fresh greens and finished with an addictively tangy dressing I did manage to restrain myself from eating with a spoon because no, no, I get it, we are trying to run a society here.
Humans have a love-hate relationship with fire…while we are all familiar with the ancient Earth idiom “fire bad,” none among us can admit to being immune to its seductively dancing flames, tantalizing thermal embrace, and allure of controlled danger…or maybe it’s just me that used to play with matches. In any event, there is certainly a market for a beach bonfire site in town and I am part of that market.
For absolute full disclosure, I haven’t yet answered the consistent call of the hammocks that sang to me on that first day…however, to my expertly trained eye for relaxation, they appear to be regulation size and weight and I can personally testify that I have witnessed people thoroughly enjoying themselves in them, so you can lounge with peace of mind. I stake my reputation on it.
The Verdict: This hidden gem of the Rio Cuale is located on the far east side of the island, and so it’s easy for Vallarta veterans and visitors alike to miss it on a brisk stroll between Centro and Old Town.
Still, sometimes you have to make time for a great time, and this, my friends, is one of those times. BabelBar offers one of the most unique backdrops in the city and is also the unofficial meeting place of Vallarta Tribune staff as of last week or so…maybe I’ll catch you there.