Well it seems that the Missus is going through a slight "Soul Food" addiction. Which left me to try and find another Southern Food restaurant. I remembered hearing about a place on University Ave, East of College, called Papa Doc's. So I thought we'd give it a try. We found Papa Doc's in a little strip mall in East San Diego.
As we entered the interior of Papa Doc's we gasped, the restaurant was beautifully adorned, in stark contrast to the generic, dusty, strip mall it occupies. The entrance was bordered by two large fish tanks, and there was a lovely mural on the rear wall.
The menu was full of favorites like baby back ribs, fried halibut, fried catfish, and one tempting dish called "Slap Yo Mamma Meat Loaf" ($13.50). I decided to order the Fried Chicken Dinner ($13.25); I was told that they make it to order and it'll take about 18 minutes. No problem. I thought the Missus would order the Fried Catfish ($11.25), but instead asked the server, who ended up being the Co-Owner Diane, about something called The Trout Platter ($21.25), she asked if this dish is fried and received an affirmative response, to which she replied "I'll have that." There's a little note on the bottom of the menu which states, "Sorry, no calorie or carb watchers here." Sounds like my kind of place.
We were immediately served some piping hot corn bread muffins that were hot, moist, and very buttery. It's good that these were served hot, they would not have been as good cold.
About 10 minutes later my Fried Chicken was brought to the table. I had ordered Corn Bread Dressing and Collard Greens as my sides. The greens were a bit of a disappointment, very dry, with almost a fishy taste, though there were pieces of ham hock, the flavor seemed off. The corn bread dressing was a 180 degree turn, it was moist, with a nice richness and a bit of spice, and a slight grainy texture, with onions, this was very tasty. The 4 pieces of chicken were still sizzling when it reached the table, and stayed hot for the entire duration of the meal. The batter was simple, yet very good, with good amounts of salt and pepper. I handed a piece of the batter to my wife who tasted it, and said, "better than pork rinds!" Which is a complement of the highest order in this household. I'm also glad that the four pieces were all "dark", 1 drum, 2 wings, and 1 thigh.
By this time the "Trout Platter" arrived. The one thing about this "trout platter" was that there was no "trout" on it. On this plate were 3 halibut fillets, 3 snapper fillets, 3 catfish fillets, and 3 very large shrimp, on a bed of fries. All fried, of course. The shrimp were excellent, large, moist, tasty, and fresh; the best thing on the plate. I ate them tail and all, if they had "heads" I woulda' ate them too. The catfish was also excellent, nicely seasoned, very moist and tender. The Snapper was good, a bit thicker, but still tasty. The Halibut was a bit too thick for this type of frying, and ended up being dry, and bland. All of this was served with a nice tartar sauce, lemon and hot sauce. Again there were the totally routine fries, though these were better than those we had at Magnolia's last night. Next time we'll have catfish, shrimp, and fried chicken.
So how does Papa Doc compare to Magnolia's? The food at Magnolia's is alot more refined and lighter. Papa Doc's will "stick to your ribs" and you'll need to take a nap after. Papa Doc's was more like "home cooking". They're both good and worth a try.
Papa Doc's Restaurant
6523 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92115