Hits and misses at Le Papagayo

Fancy food with a side of music

Hawaiian Kahlua pork with coconut rice, plantains, and Maui pineapple
  • Hawaiian Kahlua pork with coconut rice, plantains, and Maui pineapple

Le Papagayo

1002 N. Coast Highway 101, Leucadia

I was invited to a going-away party at Le Papagayo recently, and the organizer was insistent that we confirm that we would be attending. “It’s not easy to get reservations on a Saturday night,” she texted, more than once. I was all in at the first mention, since I had never been to the Mediterranean-Latin fusion restaurant, even though I’ve passed the place for more than a decade.

The colorful dining room. Some would call it funky and artsy.

The colorful dining room. Some would call it funky and artsy.

The interior of the dining room is decorated in a funky, artsy atmosphere, and Le Papagayo is also one of the few restaurants with outdoor seating and a private parking area in Leucadia. Even though it was over 80 degrees out, we decided to sit outside on one of the patios where we could still enjoy the live music — one of the reasons for reservations.

Outdoor dining at Le Papagayo, with live music nightly. But you’d better think about making reservations.

Outdoor dining at Le Papagayo, with live music nightly. But you’d better think about making reservations.

I got down to business when we were seated and ordered a blackberry Mojito instead of my customary chardonnay. It was a citrusy, lightly sweet, herb-infused cocktail and perfect for the hot evening. My friend had wine and beer.

We ordered the Papagayo Dynamite tapas to start, which consists of shrimp, crab, scallops, and mushrooms, oven-roasted with Papagayo sauce. The tapas were fine, but the sauce was too sweet.

The Blackberry Mojito, a citrusy, lightly sweet, herb-infused cocktail perfect for a hot evening

The Blackberry Mojito, a citrusy, lightly sweet, herb-infused cocktail perfect for a hot evening

I ordered the Seafood Bouillabaisse, a take on the typical French dish that I’ve sampled in the South of France (I’m bragging). This dish has an Asian twist, and the server said it was made with creamy coconut and red curry broth. I also tasted a hint of ginger, which added to the spiciness. What got my attention at the first bite were the mashed potatoes buried in the bottom of the bowl. They were creamy and firm and meshed well.

The not-so-secret ingredient in the Seafood Bouillabaisse is mashed potatoes.

The not-so-secret ingredient in the Seafood Bouillabaisse is mashed potatoes.

My friend the organizer ordered the slow-roasted Hawaiian Kahlua Pork with coconut rice, plantains, and Maui pineapple. The pork wasn’t overly dry, which can be a problem with the dish, and the rice was sweet and sticky. We all took turns trying it until she swatted our forks away.

The friend who was moving to Texas ordered the Luxury California burrito with filet mignon, avocado, truffle fries, salsa Fresca, and crème fraiche. I had two bites and stopped. The steak was overcooked and the fries were soggy. My pal said she might have to hit up Alberto’s on her way out of town.

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