The Tip

Discover a bit of Mexico in Fort Point

Raphael Vaz (right) makes and serves guacamole at Papagayo in Boston. Raphael Vaz (right) makes and serves guacamole at Papagayo in Boston. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)
By Devra First
Globe Staff / January 28, 2011

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Papagayo 283 Summer St., Boston, 617-423-1000,

There are different schools of Mexican food in this country. One may focus on the cuisine of a specific region (say, Puebla, as at Angela’s Cafe in East Boston), offer handmade corn tortillas, be run by natives of Mexico, and/or resemble the kind of place one might actually eat at when in Juarez or Oaxaca. The other is a creature engineered from melted cheese, sour cream, and margaritas, prancing about to mariachi music in nothing but a sombrero.

Nothing wrong with that. Melted cheese is one of my best friends.

What kind of place is Papagayo? Well, on its official logo, there’s a tilde over the third “a.’’ The place is run by the Legendary Restaurant Group, which also operates Scollay Square, Tavern on the Water, and Max & Dylan’s, establishments that focus on good times and good value, American style. Back in the day, partners Brad Dalbeck and Chris Damian were behind the Border Cafe, that longtime favorite of Tex-Mex-craving Cambridge undergrads. So Papagayo is certainly not Mexican-like-in-Mexico. It is Mexican-like-in-Fort-Point, a category heretofore relatively unexplored.

The restaurant opened in November in the space that once housed Persephone, now kitted out in brick walls and bright colors. On the menu, you’ll find a little bit of everything. There’s a host of the expected fajitas, quesadillas, and burritos. There are less-usual suspects such as seviche, grilled corn with Cotija cheese, and fish tacos. And then there is the sui generis — burgers with guacamole and pico de gallo, salmon with miso glaze and poblano potato gratin, shrimp penne with tequila and ancho clam broth.

There’s also a vast selection of tequila — more than 100 kinds — and a Sunday brunch with a make-your-own Bloody Maria bar. But take it easy. If you wind up dancing to mariachi music in a sombrero, I’m totally posting the photos on Facebook.


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