Montana i mar paella

Chesa Serves Paella from the Heart in NE Portland


Portland paella lovers can enjoy Chef José Chesa’s second restaurant, named Chesa for his father, on NE Broadway.  Chesa blends Catalonian tradition with modern techniques for tapas and paella from a Josper charcoal oven. Along with business partners Cristina Baéz and Emily Metivier, it’s a great place to enjoy Spanish tapas and paella with a modern twist.

Chesa dining room
Chesa dining room

The restaurant is larger than Chesa’s Ataula in NW Portland. The dining room has bench seating along the west wall, all the better to line up tables that can be combined or separated to allow for a variety of sizes of groups to dine together. The east side of the restaurant is a stand-up tapas bar, with bar stools and a bar program from bartender Tony Gurdian featuring sherry and vermut cocktails and sangrias, and a wine list from Metivier and Chesa Senior.

Josper Grill at Chesa
Josper Grill at Chesa

The open kitchen allows you to see the paella and tapas action if you decide to sit on the southern end of the large space. The noise level was boisterous but didn’t drown out conversation or force you to yell to your dining companions.

Jose Chesa Senior at the tapas bar at Chesa
Jose Chesa Senior at the tapas bar at Chesa

Chesa’s tapas are works of culinary art, each with a story and legacy of a childhood spent creating and appreciating authentic Catalonian food and the freshest, purest ingredients.  Try Almejas Chesa – dad’s Sunday clams, and savory Nuestra Croqueta with porcini mushrooms and a sage and porcini dipping aioli.

Chesa clams
Chesa clams
Chesa Croquettes
Chesa Croquettes

The paellas are the heart and soul of the menu, with six featured on the preview menu. The size was perfect to fill one person, especially after a few tapas. Costs for the paellas were in the $22-29 range. It is hard to choose between paellas featuring local Carlton farms pork shoulder, sherry marinated rabbit, seafood, braised oxtail, or vegetarian options. The flavors are deep and intricate, to be savored with each bite.

Mallorca paella with Carlton Farms pork shoulder
Mallorca paella with Carlton Farms pork shoulder
Montana i mar paella
Montana i mar paella with braised oxtail, bomba rice, prawns, sofrito, scallions

For iberico ham buffs, you can get slices from the carving station next to the open kitchen, inspired by Chesa’s grandmother’s kitchen.

Chesa jamon
Chesa jamon

Chesa offers dinner service Tuesday to Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. Address 2218 NE Broadway St.,Portland Ore. 97232.

It is next door to their 180 xurros bistro, where you can enjoy the Spanish pastry, dipping sauces, drinking chocolate and coffee for breakfast and lunch hours.