East Side Story: Papa Lew’s Soul Delicious

You know how I am about soul food buffets: an army of crazed armed Taliban insurgents couldn’t drag my ass away from a buffet table heaped with fried chicken and macaroni-and-cheese.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about restaurateur Lutfi Khalifa’s new fish-and-buffet restaurant in the back of The Landings shopping center at 63rd and Troost. It’s a nice place, but the buffet — thus far, anyway — can’t hold a candle to the tasty array of deliciousness set out at Papa Lew’s Soul Delicious by the legendary Doris Lyman, the widow of this restaurant’s founder, Lewis Lyman, Sr., who still runs the operation at 2128 E. 12th Street, many years after her husband passed away.

I brought a friend of mine — a native of the deep South — along with me to lunch at Papa Lew’s last week. He had been craving the food of his childhood and I knew Mrs. Lyman’s buffet would have lots of it: baseball-sized yeast rolls, homemade cole slaw (the best in the city, I’m telling you), stewed greens — especially delicious spooned over cornbread — and mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni-and-cheese, crispy fried chicken, big pork ribs and glorious peach cobbler.

On Fridays and Sundays the staff cooks up whole fried catfish for the buffet — one to a customer, please — and Thursdays, from 6 to 9 p.m. is all-you-can-eat crab legs for $19.99.

Doris wants to do a more elaborate seafood buffet and is planning to kick off at least one special seafood night this month — priced at over $20 per person, but including mussels, crab legs, salmon, lobster biscuits and other good stuff. “We’ll give it a try and see what happens,” Doris told me.

I’ll be there. 

Categories: A&E, Dining