A few years after Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar opened in 2007, owner Andy Himmel and his culinary team added tacos to the menu as a fun, handheld option for laidback guests. The tacos became so popular, he saw it as an opportunity to launch a new concept: Bomba Taco & Bar, which has three Northeast Ohio locations (two more are set to open in Pennsylvania). We caught up with Himmel to get his philosophy on tacos, what it takes to build an empire and more.
On Finding Balance: What’s important is how a taco eats — the balance of texture, the flavor profile and then how it looks and the aroma. But that’s certainly not cutting-edge. We’re trying to push the envelope so things stand out. Our Tijuana Tommy hot dog taco with chorizo on a cheesy soft and crunchy shell is our take on a Texas Tommy hot dog.
On Having Fun: I enjoy the food and the creative side and all that. That’s the fun part of the job, being able to focus on design and menus. But I think what really drives me is growing the organization. It really comes down to people and a culture that permeates through everything. That’s allowed us to hire really great restaurant leaders.
On Cleveland’s Taco Scene: The number of taco places here is shocking. Metropolitan Philadelphia, which is a fairly big market, they don’t have this many taco concepts. Not even close. It’s an approachable trend. An elevated movement that seemed to take root.
On Bomba’s Favorite Taco: The smoked piggy taco has barbecue pulled pork and crispy onions. It just kind of organically became this taco that everyone loves and craves. And the idea of utilizing barbecue is something that’s very easy for our guests to get excited about.