2422 East Katella Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92806
Longtime readers of this restaurant blog must know by now that I'm very fond of Cuban food. A quick check of the side of this blog confirms this. Under the types of cuisine tabs, this is the 14th Cuban place we have reviewed in the last 11 years, which makes Cuban food the third most popular national cuisine that we've been to, trailing only Italian and Mexican, which are far and away more readily available.
Why my love of Cuban food? Two main reasons come to mind. One is that I love pork, and for some reason, Cuban people know how to cook it the right way. The second reason is my affinity for Cuban sandwiches. The ham, roasted pork, mustard, pickles, and cheese, all on toasted bread is probably one of the most balanced sandwiches you can find. If I see one on a menu, I'm almost always inclined to get one.
So, with my love of Cuban food, I'm always on the lookout for a new Cuban spot to try. Papo's has been around since last July, and I'm ashamed to admit that I did not find out about them until recently. Partly because of the lockdown, but also because with the Duck season put on hold in mid-March, we really haven't been in this neck of the woods for some time now. Hopefully, the food here will help give us a reason to come back this way again soon.
Papo's is situated right near the Honda Center, just across the freeway, in the same shopping plaza as Hooters. From what I've been able to gather, they are run by the Sosa family, which originally hailed from Matanzas, Cuba. They are serving food that has been served through the generations. This restaurant is a labor of love and one that they want to share with the people of Orange County.
This is a quick-service restaurant, where ordering is done at the counter. The menu lists all of the greatest hits of Cuban cuisine. They have six appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and 13 entrees for their guests to choose from. Entrees will set you back right around $14, while no sandwich goes for more than $12, including the lechon sandwich that Brad Johnson, OC Register restaurant critic, called the best thing he ate during a week last year. I was excited to see if Papo's could climb into our Cuban restaurant rotation.
This Sandwich Cubano ($10.50) was supposed to be my lunch this afternoon, but since I could not really control myself with the pork, I only ate a few bites of this and kept the rest for dinner. This was another winner from Papo's. The same delicious slow-roasted pork that was used with the lechon dish was joined between two slices of grilled bread with some ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard. I love the contrasts of this sandwich, between the meats, tang from the mustard, creaminess of the cheese, and the crunch from the bread. One of the better Cuban sandwiches available in OC. The fries were a little on the lukewarm side after their 20-minute car ride down the freeway. I have a feeling that they were going to be just average fries if I had gotten them hot anyway.
Since Katie has been on her keto diet and she wasn't going to have the congris or the tostones, she opted to complete her meal with this Ensalata Mixta ($7). This basic mixed salad came with greens, tomato, cucumber, red onion, and sliced avocado. It was dressed with a Cuban vinaigrette, which only differed from a regular vinaigrette with the addition of some garlic. Katie liked the freshness of the veggies and the vinaigrette kept her interested.
Papo's is a definite must for fans of Cuban food in OC. They just fail to eclipse my favorite Cuban sandwich at DeSimone Deli in Huntington Beach, but just barely. They do however make one of the better pork lechon plates I have had around these parts. I can see us eating here quite often when we are allowed to attend Ducks games, whenever that might be. Prices were on the fair side, with nothing on the menu setting you back more than $15. Cheaper than what you'd pay down the street at Felix in Orange, where you'd pay $5 more per plate, for not as good of food, at least based on my visits. I'm so happy that we have another Cuban food option available in OC, and it's also fantastic that it's so close to a freeway so we can stop by and pick it up whenever we are in the area.
Out of five dominos, (because this tiled game is one of the national pastimes of this island nation), five being best to zero being worst, Papo's Cuban Kitchen gets 3 dominos.
For some reason Papo's Cuban Kitchen got rid of their website, so to keep abreast of everything Papo's, head to their Instagram page here: https://www.instagram.com/paposcubankitchen/