On the corner of 4th and Blair sits Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen where outside sketchy men in their 20s have no qualms telling you that your bike might get stolen because the lock isn’t thick enough and inside the staff calls you ma’am.
The menu reads like an early 1900s newspaper ad, and the prices might as well be from the early 1900s as well. Here you can get a whole meal including drink and tip for $10.
Papa’s is almost always busy. Going on a Friday night? Expect a wait. Below the clutter of voices, blues play. Inside, the walls are adorned with awards, outside antique looking drink posters.
The Southern-inspired menu begins with the drinks. Of course there’s sweet tea, but there’s also Kool-Aid, and Lemonade. Papa’s also serves alcoholic beverages.
Main dishes are pretty much in line with what you’d think of for southern food: fried chicken, ribs, fried catfish…There are almost as many side choices as there are main items–potato salad, yams, collard greens, black eyed peas, fries…the list goes on. In addition, Papa’s has dinner specials.
The food takes a bit too long to make it to the table. Not enough time to play a game of scrabble, or nap, just enough time for you to start checking your watch every five minutes and try not to complain like you’re a five-year-old.
The corn bread comes as a loaf, it’s too dry but fixable with extra honey-butter.If you can get a hold of your server. While they are always friendly, they aren’t exactly attentive.
The food is of decent quality. Everything seems to have a hint of pepper. There are specks of it in the mac and cheese which tastes like it came from a frozen box because the texture is pasty instead of creamy. It’s also under-salted. The potato salad is sweet, the pickles, celery and onion give it a crunch that store bought potato salad just can’t mimic. The baked beans are tangy, not sweet and are cooked perfectly, with a little give, not overly mushy.
The ribs are just as they should be: messy. The sauce is just the same as as the beans, tangy not sweet with a hint of spiciness.
Ingredients seem to be a mix of lower and higher quality ingredients. For instance, one of the specials featured prawns with chives celery and tomato over rice. The shrimp tasted fresh but the tomatoes tasted as if they had come from a can.
However, portions are always huge.
When it comes to dessert the menu lies. The menu gives two options: “Big Ass Piece O’ Cake” or pie. Apparently at Papa’s, big ass piece o cake/pie means bread pudding. All day. Every day. Really, all they ever have is bread pudding (which is amazing in its size, mushy and has raisins) so don’t think you’re going to get cake. It’s just not going to happen.
In this little white house with chipped red paint, the food is more than mediocre but less than absolutely stunning and the prices save the day like Walmart on Christmas Eve.
Must tries: Ribs, potato salad, sweet tea and black-eyed peas because there on the menu and where the hell else are you going to get southern style black eyed peas?
ALSO. Don’t forget the drink specials. They change but the Hurricane is great! It is a wonderful mix of orange juice, Kool-Aid, 151 and a couple of other things.
Would/should a college student eat here? HELL YES. Did you see the prices?
Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen|400 Blair Blvd., Eugene, OR|(541) 342-7500|Hours: Tue-Fri 12-2, 5-9; Sat 2-9; Closed Sun./Mon.
Overall rating:3 out of 5
College student friendly? YES (masses of food for cheap, though it’s not exactly healthy)| Food 3 out of 5| Prices 5 out of 5 (Avg. price for a main dish $7-$8)| Environment 4.5 out of 5|Service 3 out of 5