PDX Eats: Ataula

Portland is a hotbed of really, really good restaurants.

No matter what you’re craving, I can pretty much guarantee there is a restaurant waiting to fill your stomach with all kinds of gastronomic masterpieces.

I’m thinking about introducing a new section to this blog with my thoughts on some of Portland’s restaurants and I’m starting with Ataula.

Ataula is without a doubt one of my favourite spots in Portland. It’s a Spanish tapas restaurant located just off one of Portland’s most vibrant streets. The owner/chef is Jose Chesa, a native of Barcelona who has brought traditional, authentic tapas to Portland.

I went there a couple of weeks ago with two of my best friends to kick off my birthday celebrations and we had such a great time. You can see the kitchen from the dining part of the restaurant, which I really like. Towards the end of the meal Chef Chesa came from the kitchen to the dining area and talked to the people dining. I’ve never been to a restaurant where that occurs before and I was very impressed.

Now for the food/drink.

Let me start with the sangria.

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I could drink this sangria all day long. They offer three different kinds — white, rose, and red. The three of us ordered all three and we enjoyed all of them. My personal favourite was the red. It had the absolute perfect combination of flavours. It was almost like a “comforting” drink whereas I would consider both the white and rose to be more light and refreshing. You can’t go wrong with any of them though. They offer all kinds of beverages, but I would highly recommend you order one of the sangrias.

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Now the food.

We ordered a few tapas and one of the paellas they offer. To say we were impressed with the food would probably be the understatement of the year. We absolutely loved it. Everything was so flavourful. I haven’t been to Spain, but it all tasted how I imagine it would taste in Spain.

We had the “pa amb tomaquet” which is house-made bread with shredded tomato and extra-virgin olive oil. Quite possibly my new favourite way to eat bread.

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The berenjena is eggplant fries with a romesco dipping sauce. YUM. That sauce was on a whole other level — it paired perfectly with the eggplant and was delicious on its own.

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We also had a delicious rabbit dish — rabbit loin wrapped in some serrano ham on a bed of veggies with a dehydrated potato crisp on top. Might have been my favourite dish of the night. Before my friends and I made the Valencian paella, I’d never had rabbit before but oh my goodness is it good. The whole dish was superb.

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Finally, we had the rossejat. This is actually their noodle paella dish — it contains toasted noodles, chicken and chorizo. If a traditional seafood paella isn’t really your thing, this is a great alternative (they also have a vegetable paella which is good).

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I’ve been to Ataula a couple of times and I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve ordered. If this is what Spain tastes like, I’m going to have to immediately get on a plane and go there.

I highly recommend if you live in Portland, or ever find yourself in the Rose City that you go there. And take me with you 🙂

UPDATE: I went there with some friends yesterday for my birthday (sense a theme here? ;)) and they put a birthday candle with the doughnuts we ordered for dessert! Those doughnuts are really, really good.

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