Nestled in the streets of Old San Juan, when we stepped into La Bombonera it felt like we were suddenly transported back to circa 1960. One could easily imagine his or her grandparents there in the yesteryear. This place was retro. It was nostalgic.
The front section of the cafe is a small bakery where you can get pastries to go. The baked pastries were displayed on the casing shelves by the window enticing people to come in. The shelves inside the bakery were filled with empty white paper boxes waiting to be filled with orders as customers trickled in. Behind the bakery counter was an elderly man folding the paper boxes who looked like he had been with La Bombonera for a long time.
Spilling out into the bakery section is the line to get seated in the cafe. It was brunch time and we found ourselves standing in line. This place was bustling. Impressively, we waited no more than 10 minutes before we got seated.
The famous mallorca is really something to remember by. This popular Puerto Rican item is a marriage between sweet and savory. The mallorca bread is grilled and stuffed with ham, bacon, eggs, cheese, and butter. The sandwich is not complete until it is generously dusted with confectioners sugar. The combination sounds like something that I'd need to get used to but I was taken by surprise as to how well the combination of tastes worked out.
Our server placed my mallorca on our table and the husband T and I just gaped at it for a few seconds. The server gave us a wide grin, said "You'll love it", and then walked away. The table next to us, also visiting Puerto Rico, couldn't help looking over at the mallorca that was just brought to our table. The one thing that scared me a little, I have to admit, was the really generous amount of confectioners sugar on the mallorca. But hey, we've got to live a little right? Interestingly despite the generous dusting of confectioners sugar, the mallorca was far from being as sweet as frosting on a cupcake, as one might come to expect. The sweetness of the mallorca was light, if that's the right word to describe it.
I sliced the mallorca into half and the warmth of the sandwich made the cheese looked like it was about to ooze out. Warm stuffings, toasty bread, and confectioners sugar-- the entire thing was simple decadence. My brunch was complete with an order of Puerto Rican coffee to accompany my mallorca.
T had the braised pork with rice and a fried plaintain which he found very tasty. I took a bite of it and it was lovely. I even thought to myself why didn't I order that dish before being reminded by the mallorca in front of me that it was as good.
La Bombonera is on Calle San Francisco (San Francisco Sreet) in Old San Juan. Get seated at the counter if possible.
259 Cll San Francisco
San Juan, PR 00901