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Sep 28, 2012 11:27 AM

Papa's Tapas, Delray Beach - Casual Spanish-Caribbean Cuisine in Pineapple Grove

Papa's Tapas is now open in the Pineapple Grove area of Delray Beach.

Apparently, for several years, Papas has been a beloved hole-in-the-wall in a strip mall over on Congress. I'm told it was tiny and in an awful spot, but always packed.

Now they've moved a mile or so and they're in a brand-new space and open for lunch and dinner.

I just had lunch there and it was terrific. It was immediately obvious they have a lot of "regular" devotees, as almost every time someone walked in the door they were greeted by name by eiher the staff or the very welcoming owner (?), Annie.

Service was excellent, the menu is varied with plenty of chicken, pork and seafood/shrimp dishes, most including sides of fried plantains, black beans and rice.

I had a fabulous dish, Chicken Quijote: Grilled chicken breast w chorizo, sundried tomatoes and red pisto sauce, with fried plantains, yellow rice, and black beans (photo attached). I could barely finish this and it was all of $9.

These people clearly know what they are doing.

I think this could become a big hit in this spot. I'll write more when I've tried more dishes. But I could see many locals having lunch here twice a week or more... and dinner too.

But for now, highly recommended based on this initial experience (and talking with some of the long-time regulars who sat next to me).

259 NE 2nd Ave
Delray Beach, Florida 33444
(561) 503-3636

Lunch 11-3
Dinner 5? to 9?
Not sure of hours or days of week

No website yet but they are on FB!/pages/Pap...

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  1. I certainly had a "different" experience than CFByrne at Papa's Tapas.

    While i do suggest folks go in and give it a try for themselves, i give it one-thumb-up-one-thumb-down for food and two thumbs down for price and service.

    First, the service is insanely slow. When i entered, nobody greeted me at the door. 2 waitresses did, however, glance in my general direction a few times... so at least i had that going for me. When i finally got their attention and took a seat, nobody took a drink order for about 5 minutes ( there were perhaps only 2 other tables occupied so being "slammed" was no excuse)...

    Since it was quite a late-lunch (3pm) I ordered a Cuban sandwich instead of a dinner item. The sandwich was pretty good, a solid 7 on the Cuban sandwich scale, however the fries i ordered to accompany the sammich were insanely greasy. Its as though they were fried earlier in the day, left out to get cold, then threw back in the frier. If you've ever reheated doggy-bagged french fries in your home oven you'll know what i mean. But for 8 bucks, i wont complain too much about the sammich.

    But Why didn't i get the plantains instead of fries you ask? Wasn't I in a Latin restaurant?... the whole "when in Rome" thing?... I did order them, just not with my lunch. I promised my wife, who was equally excited to hear they finally opened, I'd take a dish and some apps home for her to enjoy.

    Besides, the whole "when in Rome" thing does not apply, since I eat Spanish food 3 to four days a week and am sick of plantains. anyhow...

    While enjoying my Cuban sammich (which, again, was pretty decent) and greasy fries, i decided to order myself an ice cold, smooth, fresh and seasonal beer. Sam Adams Oktoberfest!

    Unfortunately, since the place is so new, they haven't perfected their draft beer system yet, so the beer came out foamier than Old Yeller in a bubble bath. While I can't fault them for having an imperfect draft system, they shouldn't serve beer like that. Whoever installed the draft system needs to be called immediately. Not only are they wasting money, they're ruining perfectly good beer. So a switch to bottles it was.

    It came to my surprise that beer was $5 a bottle... ouch. I didn't realize i was at a Marlins game. I mention to one of the owners/waitress/unsure that there was a tap i did not recognize on the draft line. She says "oh, its Spanish beer, its great. you wanna try a taste?" Sure, why not i think. Even though the draft system is is shooting out beer like a fire extinguisher, I wont pass up a free taste of a new beer.

    I order up my wife's food (both Chorizo Apps, plantains and rice-and-beans), ask for one more beer and request my check once her food arrived. Now it gets interesting...

    I look at my check and notice that the free sample of the Spanish beer wasn't a free sample at all... they charged me for it! They charged me for a quarter wineglass full of swill.

    Whatever, I'm non-confrontational so I'm just gonna leave. My to-go food arrives and I'm all set to head home. However, they forgot to put the rice and beans in the bag. Honest mistake, so i had to wait for them to package me up some R-N-B. I pay up and go home.

    At home, I unpack the apps (both chorizo dishes pretty good) and the rice and beans. Now, here's my big surprise. On the menu, an order of rice is $5 and an order of beans is $5. So, if my math is correct, that's $10 for rice and beans... must be a good sized portion, perhaps for 3 or 4 people right? NOPE. for $10 you get enough rice and beans for one person, and not one person with a big appetite... It's the portion size you'd get on the side of your plate to accompany your main dish. $10! what???? I hate to complain about prices of food, but this is ridiculous. I really felt cheated on this.

    Long story short, I'm hoping Papa's Tapas is just going through growing pains and they figure things out quickly. Customer Service please.... fix the beer taps, make your french fries fresh, if you ask someone if they'd like a taste of something, don't charge them, thats Bush League, and for $10 i should be getting enough Rice and Beans for a family of four.

    One more thing, your place is pretty nice inside. Cool decor... but your bathroom is filthy and looks like it belongs in a Chinese takeout, not a sit-down $5 beer, $10 rice-and-beans Spanish restaurant.

    Please fix this... Cabana El Rey is too crowded for me.

    4 Replies
    1. re: DelrayLocal

      After my excellent solo lunch here last Friday – 24 hours after they opened their doors – I returned for dinner just a few hours later at around 5PM, this time with my wife.

      And yes, this time we did experience a few issues.

      We stood at the front door waiting to be greeted for a moment or two longer than we should have... I too was served the seasonal Sam Adams way too foamy… we were served dinner rolls that were stale… and yes, the bathrooms were unacceptable.

      (Restaurateurs should know that if a bathroom is dirty, patrons will assume the back of the house is likely the same or worse. That’s not an impression you want to leave).

      That said, I’m giving them a pass on this visit due to the Just Opened factor. There were literally some fellows still walking around with hammers and screwdrivers. Staff we still looking for where service items were stored. I know many would say that’s no excuse, maybe they shouldn’t have opened so soon, etc etc. Whatever.

      But someone needs to read the riot act to the staff ASAP if they’re going to be as successful as they should be. Otherwise all the new customers they’re getting in their new location will get the WRONG first impression and they won’t come back.

      Because despite the problems above, the food was terrific yet again.

      This time I had shredded pork - which must have been slow cooked in some mojo or something for about a week because it was just incredibly flavorful, mixed with sautéed onions. And with that and the ton of rice, beans and plantains, I had enough for a full leftover lunch the following day.

      I can imagine how annoyed the previous poster must have been to pay $10 for a side of rice and beans. I got an entire meal (at lunch) for $9 and I could barely finish it!

      Hopefully this family run operation - Annie, Rosa and another sister in the FOH and “Papa” (apparently the patriarch running the kitchen) - will clear up all these easily fixable problems in the coming days.

      I’d be very surprised otherwise, given the raves I’ve heard about their previous operation.

      I WILL be back again soon, and I’m hoping all the early glitches are cleared up.

      1. re: CFByrne

        Interesting reviews; I'll try and grab lunch there this week.

        1. re: CFByrne

          Same here CFByrne... I'll definitely be going back. There's so much potential there for a home run, they just need to focus on some minor, yet easily fixable, problems.

          There isn't really a good Spanish restaurant in the "mid-level expense" within walking distance. I consider Cabana to be "upper end expense" Spanish. So they do have a niche they can take advantage of. A little tweaking here and there and they should have a local hit.

          just please make some of these minor adjustments... I'll be back later this week to report on progress and to hopefully enjoy a couple well poured Sam Adams Oktoberfest beers.

        2. re: DelrayLocal

          I went here this weekend to grab some lunch. I got the shredded pork special which was very good. A generous portion of mojo shredded pork with a side of plantains and rice and beans. Luckily, I got take out so can't really say much about the service. Though they did bring me a glass of water while I waited at the bar. I don't believe they added this to my bill, though I didn't inspect it too closely ;-)

        3. I had lunch here today. Got in right around 1:00, was greeted at the door and I sat at the bar. Drink order took about 5 minutes but the place was slammed, so that was acceptable. While the service was a bit slow, I got in and out in about 45 minutes which is reasonable to me.

          I couldn't decide between the Basa or the pork sandwich but my server recommended the sandwich which I got. Great recommendation. While I waited I tried a red sangria which was very good. It was basic sangria, nothing fancy, but I liked it. Very generous portion as well. While I was eating the owner came and checked on me, we spoke for a bit. Always a nice touch when the owner asks how your meal is. After my sandwich I got a cortadito which was phenomenal. Based on the service, food and decor, I will be back.

          Decor--I really like the styling, minimalist with good colors. I like the sangria pitchers all over the place, their earthenware color is a nice contrast to the colors in the restaurant.

          I was seated at the bar next to an attractive blonde. She had been waiting quite some time for her food. Turns out she sold them the order entry system and the system did not print her ticket in the kitchen. They had her food out within about 3 minutes after she said something. She told the owner to report the issue so it could be looked at. That is the kind of thing that happens with a startup so they get a pass from me.

          As I said I will be back. Hope I run into the blonde again, she was nice eye candy!

          11 Replies
          1. re: GatorFL

            Glad you had a good experience Gator. I think everyone who has been here is rooting for this place.

            One thing I realized - I think the name "Papas Tapas" may be confusing. It is much more than tapas. They most certainly have LOTS of full meal plates with protein, beans, rice and plantains, for one example.

            Just the other day I suggested to my work colleagues we go here for lunch. "Oh no," they said, "we want a regular lunch, not just apps".

            So... anyone headed here should keep that in mind. Not just small plates at all!

            1. re: CFByrne

              Thanks CFB.

              I went back today for lunch. Annie, the owner, strolled right over to say hello. She even remembered my name. I was really pleased with that because it is those kinds of touches that make a difference for a family-run restaurant. I saw they had posted here but it looks like the post got deleted, maybe a Mod clipped it. I am pleased to say my second experience was as good as the first; food and service was superb.

              Today I had the grilled Basi with rice, beans and plantains. Another great meal. No eye candy today but the food was awesome. I was texting a few of my foodie friends to tell them we would be dining here soon.

              I could see a few paella pans on the side wall, I would love to try some paella from this place.

              Good job Annie--I'll be back soon.

              1. re: GatorFL

                Hah, I was this -> <- close to going for lunch today myself. Maybe tomorrow!

                Yes, I saw their post here last night, but I'm sure it got killed as CH doesn't allow restos to post here.

                But in short they said "we are listening, and we won't disappoint you". So another good sign IMO.

                1. re: GatorFL

                  Did you check out the restrooms? Dirty is a killer for me and I am in the habit of washing my hands before eating. Would also like someone to comment on the paella as DH is a HUGE fan! Thanks, Linda

                  1. re: Linda VH

                    Restrooms were clean. Like you I scope them out to get a feel for the place. Annie is on top of everything, no worries.

                  2. re: GatorFL

                    I tried the Grilled Basi with Shrimp today, with the rice, beans and plantains side ($11). It was terrific.

                    I was offered both the salsa verde and pisto sauce, and so I kind of made 2 separate meals for myself, covering 1/2 with each of the 2 sauces for very different flavors.

                    The Basi was cooked perfectly and I never thought I would say this, but tasted like a combination of fresh flounder and thin-sliced Chilean seabass. Remarkable.

                    Service was prompt and super-friendly throughout. I expect I'll be going here a lot, especially as it's about 2 blocks from my office and 1/2 mile from my home.

                    1. re: CFByrne

                      Glad you liked it CFB. I'll probably be there next Tuesday for lunch.

                      1. re: CFByrne

                        What is basi? Do you mean basa? Even google doesn't know.....

                        1. re: freakerdude

                          Oops, yes, I meant basa.

                          Usually I don't care for mysterious imported farm raised fish. But as I explained, this was pretty darn good.

                          Here's a Forbes article on the business of basa...


                          Full lunch presentation show in attached photo.

                          1. re: CFByrne

                            BTW had takeout again yesterday, terrific as usual. And yes, Linda VH, the bathrooms (and everything else) were spotless.