With famous Italian restaurants in the North End and endless seafood dining destinations along the Boston harborside, Mexican food can often feel like it’s left in the shadows in Boston. Papagayo is an authentic, tasteful Mexican restaurant with four different locations in Charlestown, Somerville, South Boston, and downtown Boston on West St. Its unique mix of Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes along with its famously enormous tequila bar makes the restaurant a popular destination for Bostonians.
The original Papagayo was opened in 2010 at a location near the Convention Center in South Boston. The Papagayo restaurant on West Street was converted from the previous Max and Dylan’s approximately a year and a half ago. Owner Chris Damian has extensive experience in the food industry, studying as a graduate student at Johnson & Wales University as a culinarian. Damian has firsthand knowledge of ethnic foods due to his travel throughout Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico, learning more about the types of food, spices, and places where it is made.
After his travels, Damian and his business partner opened a Jambalaya restaurant with a Mexican-Cajun hybrid concept. Now, Papagayo offers a mix of authentic Mexican food, Tex-Mex style dishes, and Cal-Mex dishes. “We cover the whole spectrum from fajitas and burritos all the way to tamales and enchiladas,” Damian said.
The authentic cuisine is only part of the reason Papagayo has become a Boston favorite. “We probably have the largest collection of tequilas in the city of Boston,” Damian said. “The majority of our tequilas are sipping tequilas, although a number of our blancos, repasados, and some anejos are used for our margaritas.”
There is a very wide range of tequila varieties, some aged in sherry casks for two years. Each variety is blue agave—pure tequila that comes from agave bulbs. An increasing popular drink at Papagayo is its Rona Rita, The which features the house margarita with an inverted Coronita bottle. All of its house margaritas are made with 100 percent blue agave tequila, orange liqueur, fresh squeezed lime juice, agave nectar and are hand shaken to perfection.
The top selling item on the menu is the guacamole appetizer served with tortilla chips. Although it is just an appetizer, this savory guacamole accounts for almost 10 percent of total sales. As for entrees, the fish tacos are a favorite, made with pan-seared tilapia, avocado, pickled red onions, garlic mojo, and cabbage slaw.
Papagayo has its own smartphone app that customers can use to check-in and get rewarded for eating at the restaurant. The app offers a new way to supercharge rewards and join its Tequila Club. Customers who checkin on their first visit receive a $5 discount from their second visit at Papagayo. The special also earns users a free birthday dinner in their birthday month.
The app also encourages users to try their many varieties of tequilas offered. After a user tries out 25 different tequilas over time, he or she receives a complimentary dinner for two. If a customer tries over 100 different tequilas within a one-year span, it is dinner for 10.
Papagayo has a collegiate-friendly atmosphere and is currently offering a new promotion designed at students. On Mondays and Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., all four Papagayo locations now offer a $10 special for a quesadilla and one of its house margaritas. In addition, there are a number of heart-healthy items on the menu like pan-seared shrimp tacos, served in lettuce cups with a side of black beans, as well as a variety of other authentic Mexican dishes that make the restaurant a popular destination across the metro area.
Featured Image Courtesy Of Papagayo