Ali was inspired by the flavors and ingredients he used while working at Spanish restaurant Bar Mercado in Krog Street Market, under the direction of executive chef Raul Dominguez.
“I love the flavors and I love the culture,” he said of deciding to launch a Latin cuisine concept. “I feel like taking those big flavors and putting them onto plants is a perfect mesh.”
In developing the menu, Ali said he wanted to make sure the dishes “maintained the tradition of the food. I didn’t want to stray too far and mash up silly things just for the sake of it.”
The concise menu features a handful of sandwiches, wraps, grain bowls and snacks. There’s also a “build your own” taco, wrap or grain bowl option with a choice of base; proteins including chorizo, guajillo tofu, chipotle jackfruit and bacon; toppings like pickled cherries, kale and almonds; and sauces including chipotle crema and cilantro pesto.
On the beverage side, Papi Ali’s will serve several juices and smoothies. Down the road, Ali is hoping to get a beer license in order to sell hard kombucha.
The space has a “bright, clean” aesthetic, Ali said, with a lot of pastels. “I wanted it to be a very inviting place where you walk i and go, ‘Wow, I really want to try this food.’”
The counter-service restaurant offers about 20 seats inside, as well as sidewalk seating for four.
Ali switched to a mostly plant-based diet himself about 10 months ago for health and environmental reasons.
Also in line with being environmentally friendly, Papi Ali’s will use compostable flatware, cups and bowls that will be placed in compost dumpsters after use. The restaurant will also encourage community members to make use of the dumpsters for their own compostables.
Ali said each of his ventures is a “stepping stone” to the next. He launched the food truck in order to make enough money to open Papi Ali’s, and he hopes Papi Ali’s is successful enough to eventually allow him to open a “high-end, sit-down Latin American restaurant with authentic flavors.”
In addition to dine-in, Papi Ali’s will offer takeout, with plans to offer delivery and catering in the future.
Also offering plant-based Latin food in Atlanta is Chi Chi Vegan Taco Shop, which opened in 2020. Latin vegan restaurant La Semilla, an offshoot of the Happy Seed pop-up, is slated to open in Reynoldstown in 2022.
Papi Ali’s will be open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays.
Scroll down to see the full menu for Papi Ali’s:
2323 Main St., Tucker. papialis.square.site
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