When I moved from Fort Lauderdale to Delray Beach, even though it’s less than 30 miles apart, it was a world of difference. And even though I loved my new home, there was something that was just missing. Was it the beach scene overrun by tacky tourists and drunk Spring Breakers? Nah. Was it the seedy nightclubs full of under-agers, fist-pumpers, and watered down well drinks? Certainly not. Was it the standstill rush hour traffic on Sunrise Blvd? Well no, duh. I didn’t know what my heart was truly missing until I discovered Papa’s Raw Bar. Not only is Fort Lauderdale home to one of my favorite restaurants in the world that just so happens to be a raw bar, but it is almost home to at least 5 other no-frills, non-overpriced raw bars. Moving to Delray I had not one within 15 miles of me. NOT ONE. Sure there is decent seafood in Delray, but you’ve got to go to the fanciest of fancy places, get dressed up, and pay an arm and a leg for dishes that are also so dressed up you barely taste the purity of the fish. So to me, finding Papa’s just 16 miles away was a godsend. And even more than my go-to in the FTL, not only is Papa’s doing their raw bar right, but they have a whole menu devoted to sushi and sashami as well. You’ll see why this quaint little spot in Lighthouse Point puts a ginormous light in to my heart.
There are only a handful of places that I will order edamame, and now Papa’s is one of them. Unless I’m trying to starve myself to fit into a dress and only eat the blandest of superfoods, I’m not touching plain edamame. But give it some pizazz, and you got me. “Kim’s Edamame” is sautéed in Garlic & Sweet Chili Sauce, and it backs every bit of punch that I am looking for. When it comes to garlic, the more the better, but I guess that’s also what people who are single AF say.
A unique dish that caught my eye is “Hugo’s Beer Battered Scallop Stix” served with Jalapeños, Spicy Mayo & Eel Sauce and topped with Masago. There’s not many times you will hear me say this, but there ARE a few types of food that I prefer not fried, and scallops (along with shrimp or generally any fish) are one of them. So while the flavors of the sauces were delicious, true scallop lovers are best off ordering any of their many delicious scallop dishes. For those who are new to seafood and love fried food, this dish is a great info to introduce your palette to A Whole New World (see what I did there? I’m so punny.)
I’ve found the Holy Grail of ceviche. Why is it so special? Because you can MAKE YOUR OWN. Unlike many things in life (bad traffic, your boyfriend’s nasty farts, your drinking problem), with this you have full control. You choose your fish AND the preparation style. Pick from Salmon, Conch, Tuna, Wahoo, Yellowtail, or King Crab (and even mix and match two for an extra $2). The decide how you like it – Peruvian (Red Onion, Cucumber, Cilantro, Tomatoes, Lemon Juice, Salt & White Pepper), Jalapeño (Fresh Jalapeño, Red Onion, Cucumber, Cilantro, Lemon Juice, Tomatoes, Salt & White Pepper) or Wahoo Sauce (Japanese Dressing, Kimchi & Sriracha). We went for Wahoo and Conch prepared Peruvian Style. It’s exactly what you’d want from a raw bar. Fresh and flavorful.
One of the things that I refuse to leave a raw bar without is oysters, and I was delighted to sample 4 different types. (From left to right) Chargrilled with parmesan, blackened shrimp and cheese, bacon and crumbled bleu cheese, and chorizo, queso fresco and jalapeño. Each one was a winner in its own way, to choose a favorite would be like asking me to choose a favorite selfie – you could sit and debate forever. But writing this post and reliving each bite, I’d have to say the blackened shrimp oysters stand out most in my mind. But good to know that you cannot go wrong in this scenario.
Again, one of the things that truly makes Papa’s unique is that not only do they have an extensive raw bar menu, but they have a full page of sushi dishes, one more unique than the next. 45 different rolls to be exact, and that’s not including the sushi appetizers, hand rolls and sashimi. Seriously. If you’re indecisive, you may be there all night debating. Luckily I’m a girl that knows what she wants, and well that’s because I had been salivating over the menu all week. We went with the Kitty Kat roll (Tuna, Wahoo, Fresh Crab Meat, Avocado, Asparagus, Seaweed Salad & topped with Wahoooo Sauce, rolled in Soy Paper). It first won me over with it’s presentation. Talk about playing to your audience! And yeah, sushi can kind of start to look and taste the same with so many places having the same recipes. So to start right off the bat with a killer creative presentation, well that’s the first step. Combine 3 types of fish and finish it with a flavorful sauce, and you got something to rock ‘n ROLL about. (I know, that one was a stretch. Don’t let my lame jokes deter you from ordering it though.)
I had mentioned earlier that I prefer scallops unfried and in their natural state, and so I’m very happy that I got to sample the Day Boat Scallops, which can be prepared Honey Seared, Blackened, Grilled, or Beer-Battered. Of course I’m always up for something unique, so I went for Honey Seared which is something I had never tried – but WILL be back for. WOW. A) of all, can we talk about that portion size? I typically never order scallops as an entree because they bring you three, maybe four if you’re lucky, and you leave the restaurant starving and in search of the nearest McDonald’s. This dish has seven, yes SEVEN beautifully cooked scallops in a sauce that wasn’t overly sweet, but just enough to give you that warm delicious feeling. Day Boat Scallops for the win friends!
Oh and in case you’re wondering, yes, they have french fries. And yes, they are totally up to my standards. That’s saying a lot.
Lastly, there was no way I was leaving without shoving my face into the Banana Cheesecake Chonga, which is a sinful banana cheesecake wrapped in a crispy wonton, served with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, caramel sauce and fudge. Yeah. Let that sink in.
Papa’s is without a doubt the BEST shuckin’ seafood I have found near me. Shell yeah!!
***I received complimentary noms in exchange for this post, however, you cannot bribe me with food, so all opinions are my own.