Merivale certainly knows how to execute streamlined concepts that ooze fun. The latest in its long line of successes is the good-looking Papi Chulo that has arrived on the rapidly gentrifying Manly Wharf.
The name itself says it all (it loosely translates into a Latino term of endearment meaning pretty-boy or hot-daddy), but with the aid of an unparalleled view across the harbour, as well as a few tanned beachgoers, the team has a fitting starting point.
The décor is slick, with blue and while tiles, a huge, fully stocked bar dominating the main floor, open kitchen and a Cuban feel to the bistro chairs. Aesthetics are all well and good, but substance is as important as style and luckily, the food makes the grade too. Head chefs Chris Hogarth and Patrick Friesen have done their time with Merivale ‘it’ boy and executive chef Dan Hong at Ms. G’s, El Loco and Mr. Wong between them, so they know how to execute big flavours with flair and style.
The trio did a comprehensive research trip before collaborating on the menu and the results lean heavily toward a US deep south BBQ theme, with a few nods to the cuisine of South America. Get ready for dishes infused with wood smoke, some ceviche and punchy cocktails. Meats are cooked slowly over wood, often for six hours at low temperatures for extra intensity. The toasted Cuban sandwich with smoked pork is a handful, dripping with BBQ sauce. There's also a Tennessee hot fish sandwich and crisp empanadas for hefty lunches. Whole chilli chickens are cooked on a charcoal rotisserie, while grilled local sand crabs or whole fish make for great share dishes. Add some curly fries and a Hong Island Iced Tea and you’re making the most of one hot daddy.
22–23 Manly Wharf, Manly
(02) 9240 3000
Mon–Fri noon–3 pm and 5.30 pm–10.30 pm