When Tapeo closed in January 2004, Portland lost one of its top tapas joints. Ricardo Segura’s sophisticated spot kick-started the small-plates trend in town back in 1997, but by early 2004 Tapeo’s cramped quarters and an epicurean ennui led Segura to forsake his lease. Now he returns with a bigger, bolder project: Patanegra.
“I was ready to get back into it, and I found the right space,” says Segura of his new restaurant, which sits behind St Honoré Boulangerie, around the corner from the old Tapeo spot. “I just like the area. I wanted to get my old clientèle back.”
Bright orange walls, exposed ceiling beams and an open kitchen surround two long communal tables that can accommodate large parties or strangers mingling over bites. The tapas menu echoes Tapeo’s with its Spanish accents, but Patanegra also offers larger portions of dishes like braised rabbit, roasted zucchini with warm goat cheese and sautéed mushrooms, plus a collection of paellas for two including one featuring squid ink.
Opening Patanegra with his best friend and former Tapeo chef Bernard Malherbe—the first person Segura met when he moved to Portland from central Spain in 1992—Segura has invested more than money in the restaurant. “My partner and I built everything here,” says Segura. “We built the tables, the wine racks.”
As labors of love go, Patanegra is one we can all enjoy.