Combine an Antiguan location, a German owner, rum from around the world and Caribbean Zouk music and you get Papa Zouk; a one of a kind, stand out restaurant and rum bar that has claimed a place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike. For us, no luxury Antigua holiday would be complete without a trip to this authentic eatery and tavern, which offers quirks and quality in equal measure!
Our 'woman on the ground' in Antigua is Kathy Authurton, who you'll find at our overseas office on the island. Kathy regularly uses her extensive contacts to arrange everything from special meals on the beach to tables at the most exclusive restaurants, but she still raves about Papa Zouk!
“Papa Zouk is the antidote to fine dining restaurants in Antigua. This is an authentic local fish/rum tavern with Caribbean Zouk music. If you want just good fresh fish and the best Rum tasting selection in the Caribbean this is the place to eat."
Wondering what Zouk music is? So were we! It's an upbeat, carnival style groove that originates from the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinque. In the Creole language Zouk simply means 'party', and you can certainly hear that in the songs! It's the perfect soundtrack to an evening of tasty seafood delicacies and even tastier rum!
So who is Papa Zouk? Some mistakenly assume that it's a nickname for owner, Bert Kirchner, who opened the bar around 16 years ago, but the story behind it is better than that! Before Kirchner moved to Antigua he lived in Dominica, where he owned a dive shop. There was an elderly gentleman in the community who, though deaf and practically penniless, was always cheerful; something that Kirchner found inspirational!
“Whenever he felt the vibration of Zouk music, he would dance to it. So everybody called him Papa Zouk. So I supported him for many years until he died. In memory of him, this became Papa Zouk.” he explains. So Papa Zouk is all about relentless happiness; simple as that!
In fact, the creation of Papa Zouk came about almost by chance. Later, when living on Antigua, Kirchner's favorite fish fry closed, so he along with his German business partner, Peter, started the establishment. Although originally only open on weekends, demand soon grew and it's not hard to see why. Today it is run by Bert and his Antiguan wife, Fay, who gives Papa Zouk a real Antiguan authenticity! Kathy let us in on a few choices from the menu:
"Customer favorites are whole fried or steamed Snapper, whole Lobster or Lobster mix with Mahi Mahi and Butter fish or island style Bouillabaisse Soup. My newest personal favorite is fried Lionfish." Yum!
But it's not all about the food! Papa Zouk boasts one of the most extensive (and arguably the best) rum collections in the Caribbean. So you don't have to come here to eat; there are plenty of liquid treats to sample too!
Kathy's insider tips? "The restaurant opens Monday to Saturday from 7pm and can get very busy so make reservations and get there early. Papa Zouk's doesn't take credit cards so be sure you have cash when you visit!" Of course if you book with ITC, Kathy can make the reservations for you!
Is anyone else hungry?