Just months after Mr. Fries Man opened its doors on Main Street, Durham is welcoming another spud-centric eatery with Buena Papa, a Latin American-inspired fry bar set to launch its second location next week in the food court at Southpoint Mall.

Owners James and Johanna Windon, who opened Buena Papa’s first spot last year in Raleigh’s Morgan Street Food Hall, say they hope to introduce the community to new flavors by using french fries—a “universal base”—as a familiar vehicle.

The married couple came up with the concept for Buena Papa (“good potato, in Spanish) during the pandemic, after COVID-19 safety protocols forced them to shut down their maid service business. They’ve always been foodies, James says, and felt that the Triangle had a scarcity of restaurants featuring the cuisine of his wife’s home country, Colombia. They first planned to open an empanada truck, but then “the french fry idea fell into our laps by the heavenly gods,” James says.

Each menu item at Buena Papa is built on a bed of hand-cut, made-to-order fries, with toppings shaped by a certain country or region; the “El Colombiano,” for instance, is inspired by the traditional Colombian dish bandeja paisa and loaded with Colombian refried beans, chicharron, chorizo, guacamole, and pico de gallo. Other items feature Mexican, Puerto Rican, Greek, Italian, and Carolina-inspired toppings. 

At its Durham location, Buena Papa will be offering a new dish, “El Dominican,” with salami, fried cheese, an over-easy egg, mayo-ketchup sauce, and garlicky cilantro.

“The taste buds in Durham are primed and ready for new flavors,” James says.

The Windons are celebrating the opening of their Southpoint spot with a ribbon-cutting celebration on July 21 at 11 a.m. that will include a “free fries for a year” giveaway every half hour and a performance from 14-year-old violin prodigy Tyler Butler-Figueroa, a Raleigh native known for getting the “golden buzzer” on America’s Got Talent.

“With Buena Papa, we like to do grandiose kinds of things,” James says. “That’s what we feel our brand represents.”

Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle. 

Follow Staff Writer Lena Geller on Twitter or send an email to lgeller@indyweek.com.