Restaurant review: Sobremesa Street Kitchen

G.A. Benton

I recently enjoyed some of the best-tasting and best-priced vegan fare I've had in a good while, and I got it from a food truck.

Called Sobremesa Street Kitchen, this new, Latin-leaning truck cooks stuff that is creative, surprisingly hearty and often lashed with a chimichurri-like house cilantro sauce that could rival the iconic green condiment famously made by El Arepazo.

In short, Sobremesa's all-plant cuisine really impressed a meat-loving big eater like me. If you like food that's stylish yet homey, lively yet soulful, it'll impress you, too.

On the streets for just a few weeks, Sobremesa takes its name from a Spanish phrase whose translation appears on the truck as “time spent around the table … to savor food and friendship.” That sentiment clearly reflects the ethos of Sobremesa's head chef, Rafael Simo.

As Simo describes on Sobremesa's savvy website, he's a native of Venezuela who was “raised in a family of culinary expressionists.” When I caught up with Sobremesa at Little Rock Bar recently, Simo explained that he moved to Columbus 16 years ago because he had friends here, but also because he “was looking for adventure and, well, didn't know any better.” After putting in time at Hocking College and several local restaurants — and climbing the managerial ladder at the golden arches — Simo “left the corporate game” to open Sobremesa.

One taste of Sobremesa's terrific Green Plantain Croquettes ($4) will convince you that Simo made the right decision. With their fragrant spicing, crisp golden-brown crust and comforting interior, the good-sized, non-greasy orbs favorably recall both falafel and potato samosas.

Quinoa is often a dull bummer. Not at this truck. Vinegar, diced veggies and that winning cilantro sauce make Sobremesa's big and flavorful chilled Quinoa Salad ($3) a winner.

Unlike many of its ilk, Sobremesa's Roasted Vegetable Salad ($4) arrives properly cooked and seasoned. Mine was mostly beets — firm-yet-giving ruby cubes enlivened by splashes of vinegar.

If you're really hungry, opt for the huge Jerk Tofu Bowl ($8). The Caribbean-inspired entree includes a large serving of warm bean-curd blocks tossed in a vibrant, fiery and aromatic jerk sauce; fried sweet plantains; stewy black beans bursting with flavor; plenty of nice and loose white rice; and, of course, Sobremesa's all-purpose cilantro sauce.