Papa’s Soul Food wasn’t always located in the Whiteaker; it started out in 2002 as a small food cart. The owner’s Deb Lee and her husband, Papa, wanted to bring a different type of food to Eugene. “It was Papa’s dream,” said Deb, “to share his love for the food and culture of the south.” After success with the food cart they opened a small take out spot and almost every day they would sell out of all their food. So in 2006 they opened the restaurant that everyone knows as Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen and BBQ.
The restaurant has a genuine feel to it. There is music constantly playing over the speaker, whether it’s jazz or blues, it just makes you want to dance along. There is an outdoor seating area where multiple picnic tables are set up. Inside there is a bar and more tables. When the weather gets warmer, you can enjoy listening to live music from local artists on the stage set up outside.
Deb and Chef Redbone are two passionate people. “ We want people to come for an experience,” said Deb, “we want them to be transported to another place.” Their main goal is to keep Papa’s vision alive, as he passed away in 2009. “Keeping the cuisine authentic, I think, was a big part of what has made us who we are today,” said Chef Redbone, “not settling and introducing people to what they could find in old school restaurants in the south.”
Chef Redbone says that their most popular dish is the Pulled Pork Sandwich. They have one BBQ Sauce and their recipe is top secret. They make everything from scratch and they don’t follow a recipe book, but strive on serving the best food every visit. The most popular dish among college students is their Chicken and Waffles, though it’s not actually on the menu. “If it’s on the board than we have it,” said Deb, “if you’re in the know than you can get it.”
Walking in you can definitely feel the presence of Papa and all of his dreams and visions coming true. “Papa would always say,” said Deb, “he was here to make a million smiles, not a million dollars.”
Location: 400 Blair Blvd, Eugene, OR 97402
Hours of Operation: Tue-Fri: 12pm-2pm and 5pm-10pm, Sat: 2pm-10pm, Sun & Mon: Closed
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