The business partners have done quite a makeover of the space, which was featured on Bar Rescue a few years back. All of the dark wood looks refinished, there are added stained-glass accents, a kitchen window was created for a more open feel, and an outside courtyard will open up later in the spring.
A bright and colorful chalkboard advertises the bar's happy hour (Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m.), which was exactly the time we went last Friday. Specials include $3 house margaritas (50 cents more to add flavor), $3 draft beers, $6 sangria, and $1 tacos. I tried a traditional margarita, made with 100-percent blue agave Camarena tequila and house-made sour mix, which had a soft spice and ample amount of tart.
Also available are various margarita flavors (everything from prickly pear to bananas foster), mojitos, martinis, and both local and Mexican beers. You could even get a Coronita (mini Corona) dumped in your margarita, which we saw a few customers enjoying.
As for the food, Papi's is inspired by "the antojitos of Mexican street food trucks, carts, and markets," so its menu features items like hominy and yucca frita. We sampled the elote esquites—corn on the cob dusted with lime, chile pequin, cotija, Mexican mayo, and lemony herb epazote—which was unique and delicious. We also appreciated the "build-your-own street taco" menus, in which you could choose your own tortilla, meat, salsa, and style.
While it's still early for Papi's (and the poor space seems cursed), we have high hopes. Not only does it have successful business owners, but the concept is thoughtful and creative—albeit in a neighborhood with a lot of taco competition already.
To read more about Charlie Gjerde and his journey to Alexander's and Papi's, pick up a copy of our May issue.