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Munch on a little paradise

From tropical fruit to smoked mullet and crab meat spread, Papaya's Cafe lives up to its name and decor.


© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 24, 2001

As soon as I turned the corner and spotted the restaurant's sign, I knew it was the tropical paradise that the menu described. The tiny restaurant goes all out on decor -- inside and outside. But I wondered, could I really take a piece of paradise with me?

Yes. In stacks of foam containers.

Papaya's is a chef-owned restaurant, which probably explains the beauty of the presentation. The fresh fruit (75 cents), a noticeably attractive blend of orange papaya, pale yellow pineapple, faint green melon and red seedless grapes, was arranged on a piece of red cabbage, which acted as the backdrop for the fruity feature.

The smoked mullet spread ($3.50) and the crab meat spread ($4.50) were hits with my co-workers. Papaya's serves up a heap of crackers to help scoop up the spread, which was chock full of fish, not much filler. Especially noticeable were the fresh herbs and red bell peppers mixed with it. The crab spread is much like the mullet spread, only with real chunks of crab meat in it. Arranged on a large green leaf, the spreads were also eye-catching.

I must admit that I didn't share the quesadillas ($5). But I had a good reason: They were delicious. The grilled triangles had a mouthful of either chicken or artichoke in every bite, an important factor for me.

The pina colada smoothie ($3) was cool and refreshing. The pineapple chunks were small enough to pass through the straw without straining a vein in my forehead. I added sugar to my smoothie because I ate a piece of candy before drinking. My taste buds weren't convinced that the smoothie was sweet enough.

Papaya's has a large, varied menu, including pizzas, pasta and sandwich wraps with a choice of toppings and fillings. It also serves Cuban sandwiches, burgers, salads, fish and steak. The dinner menu features entrees such as tropical cordon bleu, which is topped with Cuban meat and fondue. Plus, there is a special section for kids that includes a banana split.

For those who dine at the restaurant, Papaya's also offers outdoor seating surrounded by tropical flora. Inside, the restaurant is very cozy. In fact, all of the seats are close to the front door and the kitchen. It's no place for a quiet meal, but with Papaya's warm atmosphere and tropical dishes, that may not matter.

Papaya's Cafe
229 62nd Ave. N
St. Petersburg

Phone: 528-6165

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday

Consumers: One adult (and several co-workers)

What we got: Chicken and artichoke quesadilla, smoked mullet spread, crab meat spread, fresh fruit salad and pina colada smoothie

What it cost: $17.93

Time it took: 10 minutes

Pay with: Cash, credit cards

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