Quantity and Quality at the New El Bombon
El Bombon (75-13 Roosevelt Avenue, Queens, 718-672-6500) is a new addition to the line of Jackson Heights Roosevelt Avenue eateries operating under the rumbling 7 train. The restaurant's icon is an anthropomorphic marshmallow, a sombrero-wearing, taco-clutching sweet; not a sweet, curvy lady, as "el bombon" also connotes. The kitchen is to the front and the dining room the back; the latter doubles as a slick dance floor on nights and weekends. Beer is consumed at all hours.
All images by Scarlett Lindeman
The long menu warrants excavation. There are hefty breakfasts of rice, beans, meats, and eggs; a laundry list of antojitos; a dozen soups; flautas; nachos; cemitas; and larger platters. The enchiladas Poblanas ($10.50) come five per order; those, the six chalupas ($9.50), or the plate of steamed goat, rice, beans, guacamole, salsa, and tortillas ($12.50) are each large enough to take down a competitive eater.
Quantity is not El Bombon's only compelling argument: The cooking is surprisingly adroit. The handwritten specials on each table are a great place to find the standouts. Tender beef meatballs ($10.50) in a cherry-red chipotle sauce have pleasant, starchy squares of potato sunken underneath. Gorditas ($7.50), split and stuffed with stewed chicharrones, are complemented by a tart green salsa. The chilate ($8.50), a chicken and vegetable soup from the Mixtecan highlands sometimes thickened with masa, carries a deep baritone of shrimp stock, an anise-y whiff of hoja santa, and heat that catches the back of the throat. The soup is a glowing scarlet from a thick puree of guajillo chiles and seems to get better and brighter as it sits. This is the last time you'll wear white pants to lunch.
Scarlett Lindeman is a Brooklyn-based writer, covering the city's best taquerias, fondas, and cantinas. She writes the ¡Oye! Comida column for Fork in the Road.