Portland’s newest restaurant – Papi: a Puerto Rican Bar and Kitchen in the heart of the Old Port is slated for a November opening. It’s the latest creation of the Miranda Group, the minds behind local hotspots Blyth and Burrows and ViA VECCHiA.
A blend of old San Juan-meets Havana-meets the Old Port, Papi draws inspiration from childhood nostalgia of its founders, Executive Chef Ronnie Medlock and Beverage Director LyAnna Sanabria.
“This whole idea started when Ronnie [Medlock] had his Boss Hoggs Empanada pop-up at Blyth and Burrows,” said Joshua Miranda. “Everything was just so good and not easily found around Portland. One bite, and I thought to myself I could eat this everyday’”
A career chef, Ronnie Medlock remembers as a child following his grandfather around the kitchen as he sang old Spanish boleros. “My grandfather made me associate food with love and family,” Medlock says, “my mom knew from a young age that I was going to be a chef.”
For Medlock food has always been an instrument of solace and comfort for him. “I really started to understand the beauty of making memories through my craft.”
Papi’s Puerto Rican inspired menu will feature signature salty and herbaceous dishes like Mofongo, a plantain based dish, and Sancocho, a meat and roots based stew rice. Other menu items include Pernil (slow cooked pork roast), Pinchos (meat skewers), Alcapurrias (root vegetable fritters), and Medlock’s signature empanadas.
Sanabria, who is well-known and regarded throughout the national bar community, brings her expertise in craft cocktails to harmonize with Medlock’s menu. For her, Papi is serendipitous. “My father is from Puerto Rico and my mother is from Maine. My childhood was the merging of these two cultures.”
Sanabria has curated a bold and unforgettable list of signature cocktails. On their opening menu, Papi features unique cocktails such as the ‘Tall and Tan’, composed of kiwi, manzanilla sherry, cachaca, limon and black salt, as well as Vega Baja made of pineapple rum, lavender, mavi and fernet. For those abstaining, Papi will also feature signature mocktails and non-alcoholic beverages
When reflecting on her passion to share her craft, Sanabia said “I want to create a bar that I want to drink at- one of pure, unadulterated Puerto Rican joy. Our hospitality is special. It’s full, it’s warm, it’s loud, it can hurt.”
Look for Papi at the former LuluLemon at 18 Exchange St, open seven days a week from 4pm – 12am.