When I think of Manly, I think of eating fish and chips by the beach, and soaking up the sun with an ice-cream in hand, trying to eat it all before it melts. I certainly didn’t think of American BBQ, but that’s all changed now that Papi Chulo is in town.
Part American grill and smokehouse, part South American cantina, Papi Chulo is definitely a people pleaser with its vast array of dishes ranging from BBQ meat platters to empanadas to even some Asian-inspired dishes like green mango salad. It’s location on Manly Wharf makes it perfect for idling the weekend away with some cocktails and a long lunch, while watching the boats drift by on the water.
We start off with a few snacks. The pea guacamole doesn’t sound particularly interesting on the menu but this is a damn good dish. The guacamole is smooth and creamy and the addition of peas adds a bit of sweetness. Crunchy tortilla chips are provided to scoop up the dip and it pretty much disappears in a flash.
The kingfish ceviche has tangy cubes of raw kingfish that has been lightly ‘cooked’ in lime juice, making each piece tangy but still retaining the texture of raw fish. There’s also some jalapeno in there for a spicy kick and pineapple pieces for a bit of sweetness. My favourite bits are the crispy corn kernels which have been deep fried and seasoned which add a nice crunch and textural interest.
I’ve heard lots of good things about the smoked wings at Papi Chulo, and after tasting them, they definitely live up to the hype. The wings have a crispy skin, succulent smokey meat and omg that sauce! It’s creamy and a little bit spicy at the same time but it tastes amazing on pretty much everything. Next time I’m ordering these wings for myself and not sharing!
This is the main event though – the Papi Chulo BBQ platter which is designed for sharing between 2 to 4 people. This platter of smoked meats has a little bit of everything for you to try, including smoked lamb ribs, wagyu brisket, pulled pork and pork belly, plus some coleslaw, soft bread rolls and BBQ sauce on the side. The pork belly has a nice layer of fat on the top, while the pulled pork is well-seasoned with the BBQ sauce, and goes really well with the sweet and fluffy bread rolls and slaw.
The brisket is so good that we order extra so there’s more to go around. It’s been cooked low and slow so that the meat is super tender and yields easily under a knife or fork. There’s a juicy richness to the meat from the marbled fat in the wagyu, and the flavour of the meat is nice and smokey. Do yourselves a favour and order extra brisket – you won’t regret it!
Ditto with the lamb ribs. I’m usually a pork ribs kind of girl but these lamb ribs are probably the best I’ve ever tasted. The meat is tender and comes off the bone easily, but it’s the BBQ sauce really makes this dish – it’s sticky and sweet and a little bit tangy, and will make you want to go back for seconds.
The curly fries are perfect for cleaning up any extra sauce and it’s nice to see that they’re actually crispy and crunchy on all sides. Plus, there’s some serious novelty factor in eating curly fries vs. regular straight fries!
I would never have picked a vegetable dish to be a stand out but this roast cauliflower is out of this world. A whole cauliflower head is roasted until the ends are browned and nutty, then combined with a romesco sauce and showered with parmesan cheese and brown butter crumbs. It’s deceptively simple but the flavours are amazing together and I am definitely ordering this dish again.
Potatoes and bone marrow. Could there be a more perfect pairing? Ok so the dish is called potatoes and gravy, and the potatoes are delicious – roasted until crisp in the outside but soft and waxy on the inside. But we’ve only got eyes for the roasted bone marrow that takes up half the plate, with the luscious, wobbly bits of marrow waiting to be consumed.
The food at Papi Chulo is seriously good, so good that it’s making me bypass Manly beach completely to head straight for the meat! It’s well worth the trip for some hot wings, brisket and bone marrow (or two) and I know I’ll be back for more.
22-23 Manly Wharf
Manly NSW 2095
Ph: +61 2 9240 3000
Open Monday to Friday, 12pm – 3pm and 5.30pm – 10.30pm; Saturday, 11.30am – 10.30pm; Sunday 11.30am – 9pm