If Rittenhouse wasn’t quite bougie enough for you before, worry not—Bar Bombón, your friendly neighborhood Latin–themed vegan restaurant, is now open. This latest addition to Philly’s growing list of plant–based restaurants was developed by Nicole Marquis, who also owns HipCityVeg and Charlie Was A Sinner.
Meant to imitate the ritzier dining experience of other Rittenhouse eateries, this snug space is strumming with Latin music and full of ambitiously priced entrees—$14 for two tacos? Let’s be real, the last time I paid that much for that little is when I signed up for the freshman year dining plan.
Walking in, it’s clear the restaurant accommodations are quite tight, but the floor–to–ceiling folding windows leading to a sidewalk patio do a lot to open the space up. The menu has a range of items, ranging from arepas to yucca to every vegan taco imaginable.
For an appetizer, my friend and I shared a plate of Rellenos ($10), plantains topped with peppers, onions, andfaux beef and peppers and onions. The slight sweetness of the plantain complemented the savory taste of the pepper–onion combo, but overall was noticeably on the smaller side.
For a main dish, I had the Enchiladas de Pollo ($14.5), which, as our waitress clarified, far more resembled chimichangas since they were fried. It was enjoyable as any fried item is wont to be, but it had a little too uniform a flavor, and the Salsa Roja ended up dominating the other elements of the dish.
My friend had the Cubano Club ($12.5) sandwich, essentially a veganized club sandwich with faux chicken, smoked tempeh and a to–die–for garlic aioli. Our waitress deemed it a restaurant favorite, and we can personally attest to it being one of the gems on the menu.
We finished with a (sadly) underwhelming Chocolate Chili Lava Cake ($7.5). Although it did not live up to either the chili and lava portions of the name (I suspect they forgot to warm the cake), it was nevertheless perfectly chocolatey and spongy.
Bar Bombón shows definite promise. However, with some dishes still in the process of being adjusted, and many modestly sized dishes being quite high–priced, it may be wise to hold off on your visit for the time being. Regardless, Bar Bombón adds an interesting and welcome dimension to the ever–growing Philly vegan scene, and some unwarmed lava cake is a small price to pay for what looks to be a long–term successful eatery.
Location: 133 S 18th St
Price range: $$‐$$$
TL;DR: Even if you're not a vegan, you'll have fun at this new Mexican eatery
Don’t miss: Cubano Club; anything ever involving plantains
Skip: Saving room for dessert.
When to Go: A month from now when the restaurant will (probably) have its life together; when you want a classier version of the Copa culinary experience; when your parents come to visit so they can a) bankroll your meal and b) think you’re in–the–know about up and coming restaurants.
Where to Sit: Outside, because it’s important to SABS even if you’re 20 blocks from campus