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Thursday, June 05, 2014

Papi Chulo, Manly

Papi Chulo BBQ platter

Meat. And barbecue. You'll find both at Papi Chulo, a mash-up of American smokehouse meets Brazilian cantina spiced up with some Latin American influence too. You'll want to eat here with at least three meat-loving mates if you have any intention on making a dent on the menu.

Seating inside Papi Chulo Manly
Seating inside Papi Chulo 

Papi Chulo is a Merivale stablemate and the venue is as slick as you'd expect from Hemmes' crew. The space is bright and airy, mixing up booth seating with high bench tables and stools that overlook Manly wharf. The bar looks straight out of New Orleans yet they've also cleverly interwoven a casual beach feel that makes punters feel right at home.

Passionfruit and coconut milk smoothie at Papi Chulo Manly
Passionfruit and coconut milk smoothie $10

Head chefs Chris Hogarth and Patrick Friesen run the kitchen here, backed by executive chef Dan Hong who conceived much of the original menu after a whirlwind trip through the USA. They've covered all bases here - although the focus is on smoked barbecue meats, there are enough vegetarian dishes (fried pimentos, empanadas with wild greens, (not a) chopped salad and roast cauliflower) to keep almost everyone happy. They even have lactose-friendly smoothies, made with coconut milk and passionfruit and blitzed into a tall glassful of summer.

Kingfish ceviche at Papi Chulo Manly
Ceviche of kingfish $17
with jalapeno, celery, pineapple and crispy corn

Our birthday lunch booking for fourteen ends up split across two tables, but between the eight of us we manage to cover significant menu real estate.

The ceviche of kingfish kicks things off with a bang, the fish lightly cured so the flesh still retains its plump springiness. It's livened with chunks of fresh pineapple and celery, a hit of spicy jalapeno and the salty crunch of deep-fried corn kernels.

Pea guacamole with tortilla chips at Papi Chulo Manly
Pea guacamole with tortilla chips $14

I'd been sceptical at the idea of pea guacamole when I read it on the menu, but this one really is a winner. Smooth and silky mashed avocado is made sweeter with the juicy pop of baby peas, scooped up into triangles of crunchy tortilla chips.

Smoked hot wings with comeback sauce at Papi Chulo Manly
Smoked hot wings with comeback sauce $16

You'll get nine smoked hot wings with comeback sauce, but really it's only public politeness that stops each of us from grabbing the entire bowl for ourselves. First up they're mid-wings, a unanimous vote for favourite wing part. They're fried to a glorious shatter of crunch, best smothered in the smoky, spicy and creamy comeback sauce that, yes, will have you coming back for more.

Tip of the day: save the comeback sauce for the curly fries you'll devour later on.

Roast cauliflower with romesco, parmesan and brown butter crumbs at Papi Chulo Manly
Roast cauliflower with romesco, parmesan and brown butter crumbs $15

If you ever needed proof that everything tastes better with cheese, this is it. The orders for roast cauliflower are relentlessly coming out of the kitchen, roasted whole until the florets tinge to a golden brown.

Grating parmesan over roast cauliflower at Papi Chulo Manly
Parmesan grating action in the open kitchen

The cauliflower is cradled in a bed of romesco sauce then showered with clouds of finely grated parmesan. Brown butter crumbs complete the nutty and toasty flavour bomb.

Potatoes and gravy with bone marrow at Papi Chulo Manly
Potatoes and gravy $17
Roast potatoes with cipollini onions, bone marrow and creme fraiche

The potatoes and gravy dish is buried in the middle of the snacks menu but we order it solely because of the mention of bone marrow. It's the second last ingredient in the description but it arrives as the star on the plate, a hunk of marrow roasted in the bone to a perfect level of quivering lusciousness. One scoop in and we immediately order two more for the table. It's that good.

Delivering more potatoes and gravy with bone marrow at Papi Chulo Manly
More bone marrow. Stat.

It takes less than ten minutes for our second and third orders of bone marrow to arrive, although maybe they just saw the urgency in our eyes. The potatoes are terrific too, with a waxy creaminess and a few slices of purple congos as well, but it's the bone marrow we're all sighing over with contentment. I'm still waiting for bone luges to take off here though (hey if it's good enough for Bourdain....).

BBQ platter with pork ribs, wagyu brisket, chopped pork and pork belly at Papi Chulo Manly
Papi Chulo BBQ platter $86
Half rack pork ribs, 150g each of wagyu brisket, chopped pork and pork belly with pickles and soft bread

But let's face it. The main attraction here is the barbecue. The Papi Chulo BBQ platter may make you weep at the price (a cool $86) but there are hours of effort behind each morsel. There's some slow and tender loving going on here.

The menu describes this as enough to feed two to four, but I reckon one hungry bloke could easily put this away in one sitting. There's a half rack of ribs, cooked with a sweet and sticky marinade until it's all caramelised at the edges, plus slices of wagyu brisket, pork belly and a mound of chopped pork with a smoky barbecue sauce. The menu lists pork ribs but we end up with lamb ribs, presumably due to a shortage in the kitchen.

The pork belly is tender, generously ribboned with fat, and the chopped pork has a comforting sauciness to it, but I'm secretly loving the bread rolls with their sweet fluffiness and honey-coloured crust.

Smoked wagyu brisket at Papi Chulo Manly
Smoked wagyu brisket (300g) $34

The smoked wagyu brisket is a clear favourite, and we supplement our order with two extra serves. You'll score three slices of brisket and two bread rolls for $34. The meat isn't overly smoky but there's a luxe richness you get from wagyu.

Smoked wagyu brisket at Papi Chulo Manly
Smoked wagyu brisket

Smoked lamb ribs at Papi Chulo Manly
Smoked lamb ribs with Papi's BBQ sauce $32

The smoked lamb ribs end up being my favourite meat of the day. They're cooked long enough so much of the fat has rendered out. What you're left with is tender lamb basted in a sticky glaze of Papi's barbecue sauce. It's addictively good.

Curly fries at Papi Chulo Manly
Curly fries $9

Curly fries are ridiculously good too, cooked so every corkscrew has a pleasing crunch. Dip them in the comeback sauce you saved from your hotwings (you're welcome).

Jumbo king prawns with lemongrass and coconut dressing at Papi Chulo Manly
Jumbo king prawns with lemongrass and coconut dressing $38

Fancy something lighter? The jumbo king prawns are all you need to hark back to memories of an Aussie summer. Kick back, relax, and throw another shrimp on the barbie.

Papi Chulo Manly

Papi Chulo
22-23 Manly Wharf, Manly, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9240 3000

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 12pm - 3pm and 5.30pm - 10.30pm
Saturday 11.30am - 10.30pm
Sunday 11.30am - 9pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
American barbecue in Austin, Texas
American barbecue in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri
24 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 6/05/2014 12:56:00 am


  • At 6/05/2014 5:56 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    I lost ability to pay attention to anything after that glorious cheese-swathed cauliflower.

  • At 6/05/2014 6:35 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    lol "...everything tastes better with cheese" that cauliflower was so good! I gotta try the marrow next time! The brisket & lamb ribs were soooo dericious!

  • At 6/05/2014 7:48 am, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    I'm swooning over the cauliflower and marrow dishes. Kinda makes me want to take the day off and head to Manly for lunch.

  • At 6/05/2014 9:19 am, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Wondered why everyone on my table was intent in ordering cauliflower but when I tried it, oh my! And I reckon I could subsist on those wings, curly fries and comeback sauce alone.

  • At 6/05/2014 10:22 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    dat bone marrow! dat brisket! all the happiness!

  • At 6/05/2014 11:38 am, Blogger Jacq said…

    Genius decision making at our table ordering 3 serves of the bone marrow! The cauliflower was a winner too, mostly because of the mountain of cheese on top!

  • At 6/05/2014 11:40 am, Blogger hannah.rowley said…

    Oh my gosh looks so amazing. I've been wanting to try this place out since i heard it was opening, and it looks incredible. Going there ASAP.

  • At 6/05/2014 11:42 am, Blogger Vivian - vxdollface said…

    So much love for the food here. That cauliflower under the mountain of cheese is the perfect ratio! mm brisket, wings and pea guac!!

  • At 6/05/2014 11:44 am, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    wings, cauliflower and ribs thanks!

  • At 6/05/2014 3:04 pm, Anonymous Sarah (WeekendNotes) said…

    Amazing photos, as always! Those chicken wings... I don't normally even like chicken wings, but these were so delicious. Gutted that we didn't get the potatoes & bone marrow! Next time :)

  • At 6/05/2014 5:18 pm, Anonymous Lorinda said…

    There are so many dishes on the menu that I want to try. I love lamb ribs so wouldn't have minded the substitution at all!

  • At 6/05/2014 9:50 pm, Anonymous gastronomous anonymous said…

    i've heard so many wonderful things about this place! it is definitely on my list to go in July! that bone marrow!!! wow!

  • At 6/06/2014 1:16 pm, Blogger Pearls of Style said…

    Oh yum yum yum this all looks delicous! I wish I had visited here when I was in Manly a little while back.

    Krissie x - http://pearlsofstyle.blogspot.com.au

  • At 6/06/2014 4:12 pm, Anonymous Charlene @ aus2usa said…

    oooooo..... beef brisket! and that bbq platter! and prawns, and fries....

  • At 6/06/2014 5:25 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Wow, that looks so delicious! (Even though the meat platter looks quite pricey). Although I think perhaps the small serving means you can eat more of that delicious, delicious-looking cauliflower! :)

  • At 6/06/2014 5:59 pm, Anonymous angela@mykikicake said…

    I have been meaning to visit Papi Chulo for some time but have heard some very mixed reviews. I am scared it won't live up to my amazing BBQ expectations after the US.

  • At 6/06/2014 7:30 pm, Anonymous Gourmet Getaways said…

    Seriously lip-smacking! The lamb rib looks browned to perfection. I think it'll go well with the pea guacamole. Hunger calls!

    Gourmet Getaways

  • At 6/07/2014 7:09 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That meat platter looks a bit small for $86. I didn't try any meat as my husband is a vegacquarian, but seafood was great. Loved the pea gauc too!

  • At 6/07/2014 7:46 am, Anonymous Cindy (a foodie's joy) said…

    It's a great place to hang out as a group and enjoy the range of food! I agree, I secretly liked the soft buns too and the meats were great!

  • At 6/07/2014 2:14 pm, Anonymous Eha said…

    Oh, didn't I order yet? That will be the marrow and wings and cauli of course :) !

  • At 6/08/2014 1:30 pm, Anonymous Chris @ MAB vs Food said…

    Definitely worth the trek to Manly for that brisket, ribs and pork belly! Nom, nom, nom...

  • At 6/08/2014 10:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Helen your photos are amazing as always!!! I am particularly blown away by the parmesan on the cauliflower - it looks so fluffy!

  • At 6/20/2014 12:42 am, Anonymous Sara | Belly Rumbles said…

    All looks so delicious and I am keen as mustard to get there. But, you would think if they give you three generous slices of brisket that they would give you three rolls to go with it, and not two?

    You can tell I live two grown male carnivores.

  • At 6/23/2014 2:54 pm, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    That BBQ platter! It is on the pricey side, but like you say, there's hours of cooking in it. I think I could eat it by myself!


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