Monday, July 27, 2009

Wallet-friendly Cuban Lunch (Papi's on Ponce)

Since I hadn't seen one of my besties in TOO long, Moeko and I decided we should meet for lunch. We each threw out a few suggestions (SpoonNoodleThumbs Up Diner) before Moeko remembered she'd been wanting to check out a little Cuban joint called Papi's

She had me at "Cuban." Visions of plantains and flans danced in my head.

I picked Mo up at her office and we headed toward the restaurant's Ponce and Myrtle Street location in Midtown. We found sweet street parking on Ponce and entered the colorfully-painted cafe. We weren't sure if we were ordering at the counter or waiting for a host to seat us. We were quickly redirected to a quaint downstairs seating area, full of other hungry lunch-breaking workers.

The menu is simple but not lean. Daily specials like like chicken fricassee compete against classics (classic cuban sandwich, jerk chicken, etc.). We're two girls that like to eat. We opted to split an appetizer but asked the waitress for her recommendation: maduros versus tostones (both are plantains but one is ripe and the other is green). Without skipping a beat, she recommended the green plantains (tostones). Served with a spicy tomatillo-tasting sauce, the large (and lightly pan-fried) plantains were a great way to start the meal. Just the right amount of salt, sweetness and heat.

Large plate of tostones (green plantains) with a 
kickin' sauce - $1.99 at Papi's

Since Mo went with the authentic cuban as her entree, I decided to order the ropa vieja (shredded beef) sandwich. Moeko's was a perfect balance of smoked pork, ham, mayo and the regular condiments. My sandwich elicited groans from me — tender chunks of slow-roasted beef with a tangy and spicy Cuban flavor. 

My ropa vieja. Now that's a lot of sandwich.

Moeko gnaws on her classic cuban sandwich

Half a sandwich with a few bites of an appetizer would probably satisfy most lunch diners — but a full sandwich and a shared appetizer only set us back about $9/each with tax and tip included. We found our service to be fine and the food to be good. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

(Papi's also has locations in Kennesaw and Stockbridge.)

- Katy

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