Welcome Bar Bombon, a new vegan Latin bar and restaurant recently opened in the Rittenhouse neighborhood of Philadelphia. On the same block as its sister restaurant, HipCityVeg, it occupies the small space that used to be Crumbs Bake Shop.
Drawing inspiration from her Puerto Rican roots, owner Nicole Marquis developed an interesting concept and unique menu that will attract vegans and ominivores alike.
The décor is a juxtaposition of a seductively lit bar in the front, with a San Juan-inspired neighborhood restaurant in the back, making this the perfect atmosphere to take a date, grab some drinks and snacks with friends, or a place to bring visiting parents.
The service was fantastic. The waiter was very friendly and accommodating, which is especially important to note because the party I was with (including myself) has an aversion to cilantro. Anyone who has ever been to a Latin food place before knows how prevalent cilantro is, so kudos to our waiter for being understanding.
The kitchen, however, was not as on top of the issue as we would have liked. While we asked to be warned if there was cilantro on anything, or to leave it off if it was garnish, several dishes came out with cilantro garnish on top. Luckily it was easy enough to pick around, and the waiter noticed himself and was very apologetic.
That being said, the food and drinks were wonderful. I started with a very decadent Piña Colada. I’m not generally one for sweet drinks, but I thought being a Puerto Rican restaurant, it was only fair to get the official drink of Puerto Rico. It was delicious, not overwhelmingly sweet, and I could definitely taste the rum. Always a sign of a good drink.
One of my favorite dishes, despite the cilantro on top, was the Platanos, a dish of sweet plantains topped with lime crema and chipotle aioli with queso fresco. It was a delicious mix of sweet and spicy, with a squeeze of fresh lime to add acidity.
While the Rittenhouse Salad was good, what made it really interesting was the banana-truffle dressing. It had a very mild banana flavor, but added a nice tropical flavor to the salad.
My favorite thing we ordered was the Cubano Club, a spin on the classic Cuban sandwich. Consisting of grilled chick’n, smoked tempeh, garlic aioli, avocado, tomato and shaved lettuce, it tasted like a cubano/taco hybrid. I would without a doubt order this again. The smokiness of the protein, the creaminess of the aioli and avocado, the freshness of the tomato and the crispness of the lettuce were all of the components I’d want in a perfect sandwich.
We also ordered the Pollo and Pescado Tacos, which came with a side of beans and rice. While both tacos were good, I was amazed by the black beans they were served with. Somewhat liquid-y, they didn’t look particularly appealing. However, the flavors were spot on. Bonus: the sweet potato salad side we got were also phenomenal.
We ended the meal with individual French presses of Café Bustelo, Tres Leches Cake, and chocolate rice pudding with candied hazelnuts and a tropical fruit foam. While the rice pudding was visually pleasing and was more interesting, I enjoyed the Tres Leches more. I would definitely recommend both.
Despite the cilantro hiccough, we had a wonderful meal. Bar Bombon is a wonderful addition to the neighborhood, as well as great restaurant to add to Philadelphia vegan scene.
* All food pictures by Perri Lerner and restaurant pictures by Bar Bombon