Papaye Restaurant Serves Ghanaian Good Mood Food


Letterii pauses before her first forkful to pose with a full plate of Ghanaian grub. Hood’s meal came on two plates thanks to the restaurant’s large portions. (Courtesy of Caitlyn Letterii and Pat Hood).

By Caitlyn Letterii and Patrick Hood

Letterii pauses before her first forkful to pose with a full plate of Ghanaian grub. Hood’s meal came on two plates thanks to the restaurant’s large portions. (Courtesy of Caitlyn Letterii and Pat Hood).
Letterii pauses before her first forkful to pose with a full plate of Ghanaian grub. (Courtesy of Caitlyn Letterii).

Join Caitlyn Letterii and Patrick Hood, two scattin’ jazz cats just looking to dance the night away, as they explore and critique the cheap eats available around the Bronx and Rose Hill campus.

Papaye Restaurant, located on Grand Concourse, is a bit of a hike but worth it if you want to try some authentic Ghanaian dining. The restaurant labels themselves on their website as “The Best of African Cuisine,” but we at Sweet ‘n’ Sour never trust anything on the internet until it has been fact-checked by Snopes. In spite of this, the restaurant came highly recommended by a rabid fan of the column, so we were totally stoked to check it out!

CL: Our epic quest began with a long trek to 183rd Street. Lucky for us, the path to Papaye was marked by a number of exciting sights and fun spots. By the time we arrived at Papaye’s door, we were energized and ready to expand our culinary horizons.

PH: Let me tell you folks, I could not have been more thrilled to try some delicacies from south of the Burkina Faso border. The restaurant was a bit bare in terms of decor, but rich in personality. Literally! As in there were constantly tons of people getting grub, so Papaye was clearly doing something right.

CL: We placed our things at an open table and went up to the main counter to order. This should have been a fairly simple process, but it ended up being very confusing. There was a main menu posted above the counter and an additional menu up on a television. I had settled on a plantain and rice combo from the television menu, when suddenly it disappeared, never to be seen again. Because of this, I had to check back in to the regular menu board, which offered no vegetarian options. Thankfully, the woman at the register was very kind and accommodating, and she offered to fix me up a plate of whatever veggie options were around, which ended up being rice, beans, tomatoes and onions. Nothing but the classics!

PH: I am very unfamiliar with Ghanaian food, so a lot of the words on the menu meant very little to me. Luckily, there were visual aids to help me make my choice. Not that my choice mattered much, because even though I ordered fried yams and palaver sauce, I got fish (and palaver sauce).

CL: Our platters arrived at our table very promptly, and I was taken aback at how huge the portions were. My first taste of my beans was a gigantic shock to my system. I have a woefully weak palate (thanks a lot, MOM) and find spicy foods delicious, but extremely overwhelming, so I immediately had to buy a Snapple to assure my survival. It got so bad that the woman next to us offered me her water when she saw how much I was struggling to enjoy these beans. These hellish beans. On a less spicy note, the rice and other veggies on the plate were very flavorful and filling.

PH: Now typically, here is where I would call Caitlyn a big baby, but I tasted these beans and, my gosh, were they spicy. I am a Southern belle with a greater passion for spice than a 16th century Dutch merchant, and even I found these a bit overwhelming. Despite the fact that it felt like frenching Satan himself, it was still quite tasty.

CL: Thank you for validating my feelings, Patrick.

PH: Call this one a freebie. My meal also had a sort of slow burn, but it was much more manageable. The fish, while distinctly not yams, was on the bone and seasoned to perfection. The accompanying palaver sauce, a sort of stew, complemented it nicely. I was also, surprisingly, served a ziploc baggy full of yuca presented in a bowl. Why it needed to be bagged if it was going to sit in a bowl anyway escapes me, but I did find the yuca to be a good palate cleanser to match my spicy main course.

CL: Enough pussyfooting around, Patrick. Let’s hit these suckers with our official Sweet ‘n’ Sour Ratings!

PH: You got it muchacho. Overall, Papaye was a lovely place to dine. The portions are large, the food authentic and the service is wonderful (even if they did give me yam-fish). Plus, if you’re a spice aficionado like moi, Papaye has a lot to offer in that department. But beyond the palaver sauce, decoy menus and yuca baggies, Papaye offered me a totally new experience, and you cannot put a price on that. So if you’re looking to cross Ghanaian food off from your culinary bucket list, this place is perfect and conveniently close to Rose Hill. For all this and more, I am giving Papaye a Sweet Rating of four out of five stars.

CL: I’m really torn on Papaye. There were so many positive aspects. Everyone who worked there was so nice, a fellow diner basically saved my life, the portions are huge and the dishes are very flavorful! However, it’s tough to overlook some of the odder aspects of Papaye such as the vanishing TV menu, the wrong food order and a very odd interaction with our busboy wherein he told me I could get our receipt outside of the restaurant. All in all, I think I can chock these up to eccentricity and give Papaye a Sweet Rating of three out of five stars. This may not have been the ideal spot for a spice-wimp vegetarian like me, but if you do not fall into similar categories, I would definitely recommend checking this hot spot out!

Overall Recommendations:
You should try anything with the palaver sauce, the rice and a bottle of water if you order those beans!
Pass on the yams if you don’t like fish.

General Info:
Address: 2300 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY (Between Grand Concourse and 183rd)
Phone number: 718-676-0771
Hours: Noon-Midnight
Price: Moderate (Cash only, there’s an ATM inside)