Spanish Improv in Northwest: Ataula

Ataula Restaurant

Portland Monthly food writer, Karen Brooks, makes us hungry once again with her mouth watering story on the latest Spanish tapas hotspot, Ataula (ah-TOWL-la), in the Northwest District (Nob Hill).

We have been seen peering through the windows after indulging in espresso and Bitter Orange Cake at St. Honore around the corner. But then somehow Ataula slips from top of mind as we run around town noshing at the hottest new restaurants.

Why is it that that the grass always seems greener on the other side of the Willamette river? You know, the EAST side. No more. We’re walking to Ataula TONIGHT. I’m going to devour an order of the Patatas Bravas. Maybe two orders. Who can resist this description:

Chef  Jose Chesa “…slices up russets, reassembles them, steeps the bundles in the sweet musk of chorizo oil and pimenton, and then vacuum-seals the spuds to trap flavors during a two-hour water bath. When fried to order, each bite packs a lifetime of crispy layers and potato essence. It’s signature Chesa: stupid-good but incredibly smart, informed by modernist know-how but as accessible as a tater tot.”

For way too long, I’ve  lamented Portland’s dreary reliance on “big hunks of meat” as the heart and soul of the menu. I rarely want a big hunk off meat. I’ll gladly trade it for imagination and creativity on the plate, with mind-blowing flavor and texture pairings. I want to be nourished, not just fed. With uncommonly good, interesting dishes, as in this tantalizing menu.

As Karen Brooks says, Ataula is “…a place to take food nerds or your folks for something rare: comforting flavors backed by finesse, family secrets, and a deep claw of Barcelona grit from a guy hiding a small galaxy of Michelin star–experience under his apron. Eight months in, Ataula is essential, buzzing with good noise and enough determination to make Damian Lillard blush. There’s not a pretentious crumb in the house, and prices are modest enough to support a weekly habit.

Now I just have to wait until 5:00.

Read the full article at Portland Monthly.

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