We paid a visit to Casa Naranja one evening amid torrential rains. Given our love of inventive, tasty tapas, it was well worth it. Casa Naranja is in a converted house on Mississippi Avenue in North Portland. I’m a big fan of tapas, or of any style of eating where I can sample lots of different things.
Casa Naranja is small, but inviting, nicely decorated, and has a large outdoor seating area. One of the first things we sampled were the bacon wrapped scallops. This isn’t an unusual appetizer, especially for a restaurant that prides itself on Pacific Northwest cuisine, but these were topped with vanilla oil, giving them an almost candied flavor that accented the smokiness of the bacon.
My personal favorite item on that menu is the Spanish chorizo stuffed puff pastry. They are served with a sherry butter reduction with caramelized onions and manchego cheese. When most people see the word ‘chorizo’ they think of the spicier Mexican variety. These are the more subtle, Spanish chorizos, which while not spicy still have a robust meaty flavor that made an interesting center of a sweet pastry topped with both a tangy cheese and sweet onions and butter.
You really can’t go wrong with anything wrapped in bacon, so we added the bacon wrapped Painted Hills flat iron steak bites. These morsels of very nice cuts of beef are additionally topped with a cranbery coulis which provides a distinct tartness and acidity that breaks up the meat combo.
Next we sampled the crab ravioli. The filling is made of Dungeness crab and is topped with an apple and cilantro pesto with sun-dried tomatoes. This was a more unusual dish. The ravioli were good, having the light texture and flavor of crab, but were topped with the very distinct and potent sweetness and tartness of apple and the punch of cilantro. It seemed odd at the time to side this with toast, but I found it made a great texture and flavor contrast to eat the ravioli with toast rather than alone.
Finally we rounded out their tapas menu with the casa burger. The burger is made with a half pound of Painted Hills beef. It is topped with chevre, or goat’s cheese, and escabeche. Escabeche is a Spanish pickling marinade usually used on fish or poultry. The burger was better than I had expected. The toppings were well chosen and made a great finish to this experience.
Casa Naranja is a great place to stop for some really good food. Spanish food, tapas in particular, are popular but sometimes hard to find. The happy hour menu here is a great way to sample a wide range of excellent tastes beyond the usual french fries, which they also happen to serve. When you stop in, make sure you try their sangrilla. It’s tart, delicious, and has a kick to it.
4205 N. Mississippi Ave.
Portland, OR 97217