Just like the $7 single conch taco or the $25 lobster BLT. It helps to keep in mind that the focus is on the fresh: The restaurant buys only whole fish and goes through upward of 3,000 pounds per week, says Troy. It guarantees a truly fresh catch, but you're certainly paying the price.
The menu begins with "Sum Dis, Sum Dat" -- a compilation of starters like chowders, conch fritters, peel-and-eat shrimp, and fried calamari. Kapetan's Fresh Catch is a platter delivered with peas and rice and coleslaw and a choice of sea scallops, king crab, broiled Caribbean lobster tail, or the fresh catch of the day. The soft-shell crab is a treat that can be hard to execute well, but here its crispy-fried coating is the perfect contrast to the soft, creamy crab beneath.
The "Locals Favorites" sections continues the seafood-specific parade of dishes, colorful offerings like Murillo's Ahi Pizza, grilled conch, and blackened swordfish bites. But it's the Most Interesting Tacos that catch your eye -- and by interesting, Troy will tell you he means "better than your average taco."
Choose from the fresh catch, shrimp, conch, or lobster and get it blackened, grilled, or panko-crusted; what you decide determines the toppings, either a fresh pico de gallo or ripened peach salsa slathered over a bed of raw Savoy cabbage and topped with the Ganters' chipotle mayo. The conch is the most interesting, chewy beer-battered nibs of meat tucked into a corn tortilla baked fresh from the Mexican market down the street.
Thanks to the availability of Seafood World's 85-plus selections for all manner of mollusk, snail, and fish, the sushi side of the menu delivers a staggering lineup. It starts with build-your-own ceviche and sashimi platters and continues to a list of classic and specialty rolls too long to count. The Tabo Wabo is chef Murillo's best creation, buttery wahoo rolled with cucumber, scallion, and avocado; topped with salmon; and finished with a Jackson Pollock splattering of spicy mayo and molasses-thick bomb sauce across the plate.
About the only place you won't find seafood on this menu is in the desserts. We recommend Patty's Banana Cheesecake Chonga, pliant slices of fried banana cheesecake cut in two, leaning against a giant ball of vanilla ice cream. It's a play of texture and an artery-clogging affair, but it's worth it.
If the restaurants exist on word of mouth alone, it seems to be working. On a busy Monday night, the scrum of patrons at the bar and in the main dining room rivals that of a weekend crowd, and everyone is sampling from across the menu. With a main course of fresh-from-the-boat seafood, a dash of laidback cool, and a side of island time, Papa's Raw Bar feels like the type of place that should be in every coastal Florida neighborhood. But maybe with the addition of a few more affordable dishes -- especially when your tab reaches exponential figures by the end of the night.
"It's just like our motto," says Troy. "Eat, drink, and be local."
Papa's Raw Bar is located at 4610 N. Federal Highway, Lighthouse Point. Open Monday to Friday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday and Sunday noon to 2 a.m. Call 754-307-5034, or visit papasrawbar.com.
Badger's Char Grilled Oysters $14
Conch or lobster taco $7
Soft-shell crab $10
The "Shamu" Lobster BLT $25
Tabo Wabo Roll $17
Nicole Danna is a food blogger covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.
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