Jar Bar Is The Rawest in Town

Today, our Profiled Luncher from yesterday, JR, is checking out Jar Bar.

What I am about to tell you may well trigger your Mr. Yuck face: This review is for a vegan restaurant where nothing is heated above above 118 degrees. It’s raw food. And by raw, I don’t mean edgy. I’m talking uncooked sweet potatoes thinly sliced into “noodles.” Poseur pasta.

But try and keep an open mind! This restaurant actually brings something new and refreshing to Philly, albeit with uneven quality and expensive prices.

What got me hooked on Jar Bar is probably the only thing that keeps me going back: the kale salad. Massaged with some kind of oil/acid combo, the kale is pliable enough to eat raw, topped with shredded carrot, red bell pepper, red cabbage, scallion, and hemp seeds. The Asian sesame dressing is killer – I could drink it straight. And at $9.45 with tax, I’ll admit the price is also killer. But when that greasy slice of pizza is calling your name, this is a tasty alternative full of fiber and health and raw food magic.

Now the slightly meh part: everything else. On a recent visit, my friend tried the “burger and fries,” which is already a setup in failure by calling itself “burger and fries.” Philly is a phenomenal burger town. It’s too much for this fiber cake to live up to. Made of carrots, almonds, celery, and flax, it manages to taste like a muted flavorless mush. The “fries” are chunks of raw jicama, coated in some faint mixture of garlic, pepper, and paprika. If you like raw jicama, boy will you love this raw jicama. The whole thing is $8.50. My friend took a couple of nibbles and then closed the lid. It’s not terrible, but it’s joyless. Not so much eating lunch as ingesting nutrients.

Jar Bar also does juices, so we each got an “elixir.” Hungry and frowning lunch companion got the Strawberry Kale Lemonade for $7.50 (what you would expect, plus goji berries, maca, and hemp seeds) and I got the Chocolate Chip Mint for $6.75 (hemp milk, raw cacao nibs, vegan vanilla protein powder, hemp seeds, mint extract). The lemonade was quite tasty. My mint chocolate shake was … chalky and not very minty. I drank the whole thing without being able to decide if I liked it or not.

Each of us spent more than $16 on an entree and drink, which is quite a lot for a place that only has counter service and some seat-yourself tables. Even as a committed omnivore, I’ve eaten happily at raw food restaurants in Chicago and Palo Alto. Both did some really interesting and creative cooking. Jar Bar has a ways to go in that department.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Healthy, revitalizing food
  • Diet friendly, no matter what your diet

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Nothing is cooked. What is this fresh nonsense?
  • Expensive

Jar Bar, 113 South 12th St., 215-923-1600


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