Papa Mojo's Roadhouse - Durham
Okay, ya'll - this place deserves to be checked out. We went last night for the first time and had a very nice dinner. The food was delicious - oh sure, you might find better cajun in New Orleans, but in the Triangle? I got the cajun sampler: etouffee, jambalaya and red beans and rice. Major comfort food. I'm guessing not everything on the menu is going to be fabulous, but we all enjoyed our meals. The prices were reasonable, the vibe was funky - always a plus for me - it's pretty cool what they did with a little corner strip-mall joint. The service was fine, if a bit "chill" at times, but hey, this is cajun food - if you want mind-blowing efficiency this isn't for you. We went early so we didn't get to hear the band, but I know they've got live music tonight to celebrate leap year. I'd suggest going early to get a table - our waiter said they often have lines out the door and are already thinking about expanding. Papa Mojo's has been mentioned in another thread, but for those of you who haven't heard of it: it's on 55 - not far off I-40. Jump off the highway and head about 1/2 mile south. When you see Golden Corral on your right you're almost there. The next little strip mall on your right is Greenwood Commons. Papa Mojo's is in the back right corner - you can't see it until you're practically in the door. Oh, and don't forget to try the bread pudding.
We finally had a chance to try this place for lunch. My thanks to suse for the details on how to spot them!
Our food was quite good. The muffuletta po boy was very tasty with a nice olive salad. While the bread wasn't Central Grocery, it was the best muffuletta I've had outside of NOLA. The cochon de lait was tender and delicious.
Unfortunately the server made a flavorful meal leave a bad after taste. Maybe something was going on that day, because not one server ever smiled at anyone. Ours definitely didn't seem to be happy to be employed. We had to wait quite a while for our order to be taken. It wasn't busy. Our server was basically shooting the breeze back by the computer. Finally flagged her down, no apology. As soon as we said which sandwiches we wanted she spun on her heel and left. We had planned to order 2 - 3 side dishes in order to experience more of the menu, she was walking before we could get two words out.
The food arrive quickly and was plunked down on the table with out a word. We were never asked how our meal was. Late in the game she came by and grabbed an ice tea and refilled it - no word, no smile. Then she starts snaging the silverware from the table. We are still very much eating! I guess she had already decided we didn't need dessert.
Eventually we finish our sandwiches. At this point the concept of a tip must have bubbled to the surface of her awareness since she inquired if I would like more water as she dropped off the bill. We had been set to try the bread pudding, but didn't feel inclined to holler our order to her quickly retreating backside...our bill would have been double or more if she had asked the right questions and not assumed and zipped off to chat with her coworkers.
We pay the bill with cash and await the change. Initially I thought she had shown the first evidence of having any experience when she returned the change with plenty of ones. Then we realised that counting out the coins was too taxing for her (over fifty cents), so she just decided to keep them and spare us the task of putting them in a pocket.
We both have worked FOH & BOH and 20% is my starting point. This was the closest I've ever come to feeling that a tip of any sort was not deserved.
We'll give them another try, with a different server. Maybe it was a fluke, maybe it is poor management/training, maybe they don't realise how important it is to have the waitstaff act like they give a damn about the customers. But in this economy it seems like everyone should try to be on their best game. And it seems a poor economy to have a server whose actions and inactions decrease a bill by half or more...
OK, I'm done ranting and ready to eat the dessert I got to-go from another business later in the day!
I returned for another try for Sunday Brunch.
The food was terrific and very ample portions. I liked the nice variety of side options.
The service had a few glitches, but not enough to have a negative bearing on the meal. Plus the server had such a nice manner that it was very easy to forgive what she had forgotten.
Service today was as different as night and day from my other visit. I feel the prior visit was just bad luck, catching an inexperienced waitperson when they were really off their game.
Thanks to the voices of support for Papa Mojo's from many of you whose opinions I grown to value, I am happy I gave them another try!
I'll qualify this by stating 2 facts. I grew up eating gumbo in New Orleans and I've only tried the gumbo at Papa Mojo's.
That said, the gumbo at Papa Mojo's is nothing like what you'd get in New Orleans. It wasn't necessarily bad...It just wasn't authentic gumbo. It didn't even have crab (even though it clearly states crab on the menu). Unfortunately, I got it "to go" or I'd would have sent it back.
My advice...go if you like the food, but don't kid yourself or anyone else into thinking this is authentic Cajun/Creole cooking. You can literally get better tasting gumbo at the New Orleans Airport from the cheap "to go" type food airport joints for 6-7 bucks compared to the 12 bucks for a bowl what is more accurately a "seafood stew" and not authentic gumbo by any means.
I completely disagree. First off, let me start by saying I'm from Lafayette, LA and I'm Cajun. There's a huge difference between Cajun gumbo and New Orleans gumbo. On a larger scale, there's a huge difference between cuisine from Acadiana (Lafayette area) and New Orleans. I think people have a tendency of trying to group the two together and it doesn't work. Personally, I won't eat gumbo from New Orleans. My palate can't tolerate it.
Having lived in both New Orleans and Lafayette, I much prefer the food in Lafayette. Hence, which is why I love Papa Mojo's. It's authentic cajun/creole food from Acadiana...not New Orleans. If you want good stuff, it's the place to go. They even give you a little Louisiana French lesson (which we in Lafayette speak fluently) that is totally accurate. I come from a family of cajun/creole cooks and I give this place the golden seal. I just hope they expand their menu in the future to include more Louisiana favorites....like boudin!! By the way, I've been there at least 6 times and always had fantastic service.
Y'all are right! Very good cajun food. Owner learned his trade in Lafayette LA. Go after 8 PM or so Thurs-Sat for some of the very best music----blues, R&B and zydeco. My band (www.zydecopious.com) plays there every 3 months or so.
The Triangle is getting better at cajun/creole offerings. Papa Mojo's, Yancy's, Zydeco Downtown, and Tupelo's (in Hillborough) are the places to try first.
Be aware that if you go after 8, there will be a cover charge. Regardless of if you are ordering a full meal or just snacks. We went recently, and the food was great, especially the crayfish etoufee. However, they were a bit underhanded I felt about the cover charge issue, as they did not mention it to us until we had already ordered and were eating our salads. It should really be mentioned when you first walk in the door.