There are lots of restaurants on the main drags in Fort Smith — on Rogers Avenue, on Zero and over on Phoenix. There are also many restaurants off those drives that, if you’re not from around town, you’re likely to miss.
One of those is a great little Vietnamese restaurant called Green Papaya. It’s serving up more than just pho in a tight little restaurant catty-corner from Bob & Ellie’s.
Went in the other day to grab a bite for lunch. My dining companion and I split an order of Goi Cuon Tom ($3.95), a pair of spring rolls served with peanut sauce. Our waitress split the order and brought each of us one roll and a bowl of peanut sauce — which was dotted on top with a little sriracha and a sprinkling of peanuts. The translucent rolls were packed with vermicelli, with green leaf lettuce and gently boiled shrimp. They were surprisingly filling and a good inch and a half thick. A full order woulda done it for me.
My dining companion chose the Flat Noodle Plate with Shrimp ($9.95, same with beef, $8.95 with chicken or $10.95 for combination). It was a large platter full of broccoli, green beans, white onions and carrots and these big palm-size rustic rice noodles, with a fair amount of grilled shrimp included. There wasn’t much sauce with it, but with a little peanut sauce it was very nice.
I chose the Ca Ry Ga ($9.95), a green chicken curry served up with a mound of white rice. This I found to be excellent, a delicious pairing of Vietnamese-style curry paste with coconut milk. The simmered-in chicken, potatoes and onions were falling apart and tasty. The carrots and onions were somehow sweeter than I expected but they were also good. The whole mess was served up on green lettuce leaves — which were a little distracting to work around, but which made for a prettier dish, I supposed.
I’d like to go back — the menu is very extensive and includes fried and steamed rice dishes, several appetizers and a large vegetarian section. A gentleman at a nearby table was enjoying a very large bowl of pho that appeared to be swimming in beef chunks and cilantro, and I could get all behind that. The whole restaurant smelled divine.
You’ll find Green Papaya at 6301 Highway 271 South… it’s about a mile south of Zero Street. Green Papaya is open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. (479) 646-8884.
UPDATE; There's another Green Papaya these days on the north side of town. You'll find it at 4412 Grand Avenue.
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