Must-Visit Tapas Spot in Portland // Ataula

Can you imagine a world where it's acceptable to go home every day and take a nap? Or a place where the sangria flows freely and the Jamón ibérico aplenty? Where you can eat patatas bravas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with no judgement? That my friends, would be Spain. 

After visiting several spots in Spain, there's still so much of the country that I want to see with Thomas. On our bucket list is to go wine tasting in La Rioja; Eat our way through San Sebastian, which has more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else in the world; and throw tomatoes in Buñol at the  famous La Tomatina Festival! But until then, we've found our little slice of Spanish heaven in our neighborhood at Ataula

Tucked away on a side street off of 23rd Ave and Thurman, lies what feels like Northwest Portland's best kept secret. Ataula's whole essence is characterized by how eating and drinking should be celebrated with friends and family - which is exactly the kind of place that I want to be on a date-night, or any other night for that matter. Cristina Baez and chef Jose Chesa bring a 'Portland vibe' by utilizing the Pacific Northwest's seasonal goodies and creating dishes inspired by Catalunya and other regions of Spain.  Sharing multiple 'small plates' so we can try a little of everything is my jam and at Ataula, you can't go wrong. 

On our most recent date night we started off with sangria of course. Then the plethora of jaw-droppingly good tapas started coming to the table. We had cured salmon toasts, the best Jamón ibérico de Bellota, octopus carpaccio, more sangria, bacalao, steak tartare, wine, langoustine, more wine, and THE BEST DESSERT EVER. It's a house made puff pastry, stuffed with house custard and dusted with sugar and spices. Do yourself a favor and order it no matter how full you are.  

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First we started with Sangria because duh, why wouldn't you?! Thomas got the classic red sangria and I got a spicy seasonal sangria which was incredible. 

ATAULA MONTADITO
House cured salmon, mascarpone yogurt, black truffle honey, coca bread

Next we devoured the house special, Jamón ibérico de Bellota. "de Bellota" means acorn fed. 

Also pictured above and below is the pulpo carpaccio, made from thinly sliced octopus.

Above- Bacalao - a dried salted cod which was AMAZING. I've had bacalao in Norway, so it was neat to see the Spanish version. 

TARTARE
Beef tartare, smoked piquillo ketchup, egg yolk puree with chili spiced potato chips

The best langoustine I've ever had. I can't even tell you everything that was on it now, but it was incredible. If you go to Ataula and they have any type of langoustine on the menu I suggest that you get it!

The picture speaks for itself! SO GOOOOOD. 

Our Staycation in Downtown Portland +A champagne cocktail recipe

Lately it feels like work weeks blur into the weekends and astonishingly we are already to the middle of April. How did that happen?! Many times on the weekends after a long week, it's so good to relax within the four walls of our apartment that it feels like chore to leave and go anywhere. Is that bad? Obviously I love getting out and exploring, but sometimes life and time gets the better of me. Clothes need to be folded and season finales of Big Little Lies needs to be watched. Side note, have you guys seen it yet? Nicole Kidman hasn't changed since Practical Magic! I think she really is a witch :)

Anyways, since Thomas works a lot on the weekends and we haven't been exploring this wonderful city as much as we would like lately, we decided to take a staycation last weekend; It was absolutely perfect. 

A full Portland travel guide is the works that I'm making for you guys, but in the meantime here’s a look at our little staycation experience, including plenty of travel recommendations for eating, drinking, and staying in Downtown Portland.

Hotels Downtown

We stayed at The Nines Hotel downtown. I was so impressed! It's located right in the heart of downtown, so it makes walking to restaurants, bars, and activities around town a breeze. The room was so comfy and luxurious. Tiffany blue accent chairs and couches scattered around the room, flowy white curtains, and a chandelier in the corner makes you feel pretty fancy pants. To top it off, when we arrived there was champagne waiting! My kind of place!

Other great hotels we looked at before landing on The Nines was Hotel Vintage, Ace Hotel, The Heathman, and Hotel Deluxe.

Best Bars in Downtown Portland 

On the rooftop of the Nines is Departure  where we kicked our weekend off. Departure has such a fun vibe, especially if it's happy hour on Friday and the sun is out shining! You can take in amazing views of the city and the mountains if it's a clear day. Even though Departure has the city's largest sake list, champagne was definitely our drink of choice all weekend. At the end of this post I'll share a link to some of my favorite champagne cocktails right now. 
After enjoying the patio for a bit, we made our way inside to experience chef Gregory Gourdet's 11 item tasting menu. Asian flare with a modern spin, dishes like Vietnamese Duck Curry and spicy Chili Prawns came to the table one-after-one. We finished with dessert of course; Dark Chocolate Brownie Cake with peanut brittle, miso caramel, and banana ice cream. Perfection. 

Other cool bars Downtown: 
Pepe Le Moko // This cozy and cute speakeasy only has 42 seats and makes a killer grasshopper. Go here for your night cap, or day cap, or any cap really.
Multnomah Whiskey Library // Well it's a library of whiskey...what more could you ask for. 
Bailey's Taproom // We can't talk about Portland bars without mentioning beer! Bailey's Taproom is a convenient walk anywhere from downtown and they have 26 rotating taps to keep your heart happy. 

Must-Try Downtown Portland Food Spots

Obviously this list would be too long if I put all of the must-try's, but for now here's the stops we went to and some other of our favorites downtown.
Tasty n Alder //  Tasty n Alder has been on our food bucket list forever. We usually never want to wait in the 2-hour brunch line, but GUYS, IT IS SO WORTH IT. We put in our name and then meandered over to Powell's bookstore until they called us 2 hours later to get our grub on. First we ate the best radicchio salad of our lives with bacon lardons, manchego, and a six minute egg. Then we shared the cutest homemade buttermilk mini biscuits smothered in sausage gravy. I would have literally licked the plate if Thomas would have looked away. Next we split a Boudin Blanc Sausage Omelette with parsnip, celery root, dijon, and gruyere. And last but certainly not least we split a Pork Schnitzel with a sunny side up egg, ham, havarti, and mustard braised cabbage. Washed down with perfectly brewed coffee, it was definitely the best brunch I've had in Portland. Almost in a food coma we headed back to The Nine's and took a much needed nap. 

Grassa // It's definitely not pasta crafted by Massimo Bottura, but if you want a fast-service handmade pasta in downtown then Grassa is the place to go. We ordered take-out and sat-in our hotel room watching the NCAA Championship. I swear we're cool.

Urban Farmer // Located in the Nine's Hotel, Urban Farmer is all about locally sourced organic meat and is primarily known as a steakhouse, but we tried out their brunch. I got the spicy shrimp and grits with pulled pork and a perfectly poached egg on top. Never would I have thought to add pork to shrimp and grits, but I'm definitely going to replicate it at home. Thomas had the not-so-pretty-to-photograph-steak and eggs. He said it was delicious though which is all that matters! 

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Other Must-Try Food Spots Downtown

Clyde Common // European-inspired small plates and great cocktails
Nong's Khao Man Gai Food Cart // Lunch spot that has the best Thai style chicken and rice
Q Restaurant // Cozy restaurant with seasonal dishes like "Short Ribs Braised in Rhubarb Gastrique"
Boxer Ramen // Cute space and great ramen
Lardo // If you want epic sandwiches and the best "dirty fries" of your life
Chizu // Calling all cheese lovers! It's a sushi-bar style cheese bar!
Mother's Bistro // Classic brunch spot. Where I take any family any-time they visit!

Cutest Downtown Portland Shops

The Union Way Shops // Down a little alley way in downtown Portland Near Powell's books lies Union Way. Shops include Will Leather Goods, Quin candy, an apothecary shop, a couple clothing stores among others.
Tender Loving Empire // Cutesy, quirky store with a lot of handmade goods and products from local artisans
Radish Underground // Gifts and clothing by local designers
Canoe // Trendy home goods


French 75 - Recipe and photo by Bon Appetite

Like you can see from our weekend photos, I've been obsessed with champagne cocktails. This French 75 is the perfect combination of gin and bubbly!
 

ngredients

MAKES 1 SERVING

  • 2 ounces London dry gin
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces Champagne
  • Long spiral lemon twist (for serving)

What to do

Combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, cover, and shake vigorously until outside of shaker is very cold, about 20 seconds. Strain cocktail through a Hawthorne strainer or a slotted spoon into a large flute. Top with Champagne; garnish with lemon twist.

Sweet Spot // Salt & Straw

When we first moved to NW 23rd Ave and I walked down the street for the first time to go to the cute little boutiques, I stopped right in my tracks when I smelled sweet waffle cones wafting from all directions. It is honestly the most mouth watering smell, which is only ONE of the many things that gets you hooked to Salt & Straw.  

 

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Kim and Tyler Malek, the cousin duo and founders of Salt & Straw, use only local ingredients and create innovative favors based on what's going on seasonally or special events happening that month. Some of the off the wall combinations that are best sellers on their menu include Pear with Blue Cheese, Strawberry Honey Balsalmic with Black pepper, or Arbequina Olive Oil. Although they sound crazy, the flavors are subtle and absolutely delicious. But don't you worry, they also have those classic ice cream concoctions like Chocolate Gooey Brownie, Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, or my favorite Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons. OH. MY. GAWD. 

 On top of having the most amazing, flavor packed, small batch ice cream they also do something special while you wait in line... they give you samples of AS MANY FLAVORS AS YOU WANT. So whether that be only 1 or 10, you can try as many as possible on these cute little spoons until you find the perfect one for you. That's probably why the line is wrapped around the building 9/10 when you go by.

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If Thomas and I are ever too lazy to wait in line, we always skip ahead and grab one of their pints!

Salt & Straw + couch + favorite show = pure bliss

It's only a few of their most popular, but the Sea Salt with Caramel is always there...so I'm set!

Salt & Straw has three shops in Portland – NE Alberta, NW 23rd and SE Division. They are also expanding into Los Angelas. I was actually just in the Arts District this past weekend and heard they are opening up a shop there. I'm a little bummed to be honest because I thought it would just be a "Portland thing", but I guess it's better to share the love. 

Now go grab an ice cream cone and enjoy the sticky, drippy, deliciousness! 

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