In spite of the mixed opinions about Hobos, I can only report my own experiences there. And the summer of 2011 has been a busy and successful one for chef and owner Gretchen Hanson. Apparently Hobo's has finally hit its stride.
The anything-if-not-eclectic menu is her creation (note the cute menu holders), as well as the sparse but comfortable decor. Located on Baltimore Avenue directly across from Aqua Grill in the space formerly occupied by S.O.B.'s, Hobos describes its concept as "eco-global fusion: Celebrating the subtle simplicity of street food from around the world."
Hobos dishes are crafted with a nod towards Mexico, the Mediterranean and Europe. The majority of ingredients are purchased locally, so specials vary on a regular basis. Afternoon fare includes wraps, sandwiches and interesting salads. My first experience there was lunch carry-out. I asked the nice lady behind the counter (Gretchen, unbeknownst to me at the time) what was good, and she asked me what I like. I told her chicken salad. She suggested "Palm Beach Curry Chicken Salad Wrap." I politely informed her that I really didn't like curry all that much. Undaunted, she assured me, in no uncertain terms, that, (1) I would certainly like THIS curry chicken salad, and, (2) that was what I was going to get. Anything if not obedient, I yielded to the pressure. I'm glad I did.
Temperature/textural counterpoint is a big part of the experience at Hobos, and most of it works. Check out www.myhobos.com, if for no other reason the cleverly named lunch items: "Thai One On" (chicken with ginger, avocado, cilantro and baby greens), "Sloppy Jersey Boys" (turkey, roast beef, ham, delicious homemade no-mayo coleslaw, and pickled jalapenos, tomatoes and sliced cooper cheese, all impossibly stuffed onto sourdough bread), and "The Happy Buddha" (Quinoa/ginger salad with veggies nestled in a wrap), just to name a few. The soups are particularly good.
Dinners are creative, if not ambitious. To be honest, I've heard mixed reviews, and I only count the ones from those who are not certified Chronic Complainers. Speaking of dinner, I really like the Rockfish Tacos with cilantro/poblano sauce and that wonderful cabbage slaw. I have to say that the tortillas and the fish were greasy and soft on a couple of visits (re-fried? Oil too cool?), and other times the fish was expertly fried and properly crunchy.
My dining companions have enjoyed the Drunken Shrimp with Coconut and Tequila over Jasmine Rice, the Chicken Stuffed with Ham, Brie and Spinach, and the Meatloaf stuffed with Red Peppers and Mozzarella. Gretchen changes the menu constantly, so some of the things I'm describing might not even be there when you visit, so please comment below on any new additions.
Hobos combines an upbeat bar atmosphere with creative comfort food and casual service. In the off-season they have lots of specials that are easy on the wallet. Hobos Restaurant and Bar is in the middle of it all at 56 Baltimore Avenue, near the corner with Second Street (look for the big water tower). They're not open every day in the off-season, so call to check their hours (302) 226-2226. Click here for a look at Gretchen's dinner menu. (B. (in season), L. (in season), D., Bar) Price Range: Moderate +.