The 'crazy' Mexican smokehouse in Wales that people can't stop raving about

A "crazy" Mexican smokehouse in Wales has been receiving rave reviews online. Bab Haus has garnered quite the reputation over the years thanks to its spice-packed Mexican barbecue dishes often infused with Middle Eastern or Welsh cuisines.

For the foodies amongst us, you can find Bab Haus stalls at Newport Market and at Goodsheds in Barry from Wednesday to Sunday every week. A TikTok video by Eating with Tod showcasing what the independent business has to offer has garnered a lot of attention recently, with over 43,000 responses and more than 300 comments.

During the video, the TikToker showed the method behind preparing the meat and his review of the many dishes that were on offer. The TikToker was evidently blown away with what he had tasted. During the clip, he said: "It's times like these where you just have to appreciate what these ladies are doing here, the blood, the sweat, the tears that goes into every bite. If you can't take a date, take a mate!"

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The business' backstory is just as colourful as the wonderful dishes it presents. The brains behind the business, Cardiff-born chef Leyli Homayoonfar, was named one of the 100 most influential women in hospitality in the UK. You can read her full interview with us here.

The chef had built up a range of cooking techniques, spanning the globe from Iran to Mexico and the southern state of the US, by putting in years of graft in high profile kitchens both in Wales and London. Speaking to WalesOnline back in 2021, Leyli explained that her initial interest in global cuisine came from her childhood.

A "crazy" Mexican smokehouse in Wales has been receiving rave reviews online thanks to Eating with Tod's latest video on TikTok -Credit:Eating with Tod / TikTok
A "crazy" Mexican smokehouse in Wales has been receiving rave reviews online thanks to Eating with Tod's latest video on TikTok -Credit:Eating with Tod / TikTok

Raised in Fairwater by a Welsh mum and Iranian dad, Leyli's childhood was always centred around food. "The combination of the two cultures is what created this," she said. "Both of my grandmothers were amazing home cooks and they passed this onto my parents. We were a foodie family and every night we had amazing home cooked meals. The only time we ever had fish fingers and chips was when my friends came around and they were put off by the weird food we used to eat!"

Leyli never initially intended to become a chef, having first focused on pottery following a degree in ceramics at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff. However, when professional pottery didn’t take off, she fell back on her love of food, having worked in kitchens across Cardiff since her teenage years and throughout university.

The chef's first job was at Stefano's in Pontcanna, where she worked as a waitress, however her cooking career really took off when she started working for Jamie's Italian when it first opened in Cardiff in 2010. Leyli then moved on to work as a head chef at Bar 44 Cowbridge. For the latest restaurant reviews, sign up to our food and drink newsletter here.

The chef was then drawn towards the bright lights of London, where she spent the next 10 years, having been head-hunted to teach at and subsequently run Jamie Oliver's cooking schools and then at Waitrose Cookery School. It was the pestering of one of her siblings which eventually led to her return back to Wales in 2019.

Loaded potato skins at Bab Haus Smoke Shop -Credit:Ed Gilbert
Loaded potato skins at Bab Haus Smoke Shop -Credit:Ed Gilbert
Leyli Homayoonfar
Leyli Homayoonfar, the brains behind Bab Haus Smoke Shop -Credit:Leyli Homayoonfar

"My brother said the food scene here was completely changing," she said. "All of the chains were starting to go out of fashion and he was hounding me all the time to come back home. I have to give a lot of credit to him because he was such a pain!" Leyli would eventually launch her own business and from there built a big reputation for the colourful Mexican BBQ which she sells from her Bab Haus Mex street food stalls.

Many have been impressed with the dishes served at Bab Haus, including our food writer who paid their Bab Haus HQ Smoke Shop in Caerphilly. In response to Eating with Tod's TikTok, many couldn't wait to test out the smokehouse's food themselves.

One TikToker responded with: "As a Latina living in the UK and wants authentic Mexican food... I'm making a trip here this summer, this looks bomb." Another responded with: "Bab Haus is incredible! All the better that it's in Newport!". While another called it "incredible" and added: "Newport Food Market well worth a look, great set-up".

"I might have to go there it looks amazing," another TikToker responded. Another said: "Omg this is literally a stone through from me, I didn't even know it was there, looks lush".