2415 SE 26th
11 am – 2:30pm then 5pm – 9pm Tuesday – Friday
9 am – 9 pm weekends
Andy and Jessica Razatos are following a family tradition by bringing their authentic, traditional southwestern foods to the streets of Portland. They opened La Panza Café, a cozy, aromatic restaurant, on the burgeoning Division St. last year.
After years of apprenticeship in Andy’s family business in Santa Fe, New Mexico, they are ready to share their downhome eating traditions.
The Razatos and their four children left New Mexico looking for someplace different to set down roots. What better place than here? They now live within walking distance of their restaurant and their school-age children attend local grade schools.
Andy’s father started The Plaza Café in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1947. His mother and brothers still run the cafe there. It has become an institution and it’s also where Andy learned the restaurant business from the ground up, most especially the heritage recipes used in some menu items at La Panza today.
La Panza means the belly in Spanish and the mission of the restaurant is Panza llena, corazón contento – full belly, happy heart. The restaurant serves the foods they love to eat themselves: northern New Mexican cuisine. The choice of red or green chili is prepared by roasting the peppers and then cooking them with onions and garlic–green being hotter. Another way to prepare the peppers is to let them vine ripen until they are red, then ground them into a fine powder for a thicker chili.
Their recipe for sopaipilla (fry bread) is used in a couple of different menu items. Stuffed Sopaipilla is filled with chiles, cheese, your choice of beans, calabacitas, carne asada or chicken and topped with red and green chile served with pork posole and pinto beans. The Sopaipilla Sunday is a fresh sopaipilla topped with vanilla ice cream, Mexican chocolate sauce, toasted piñon nuts and fresh whipped cream. Another dessert, the coconut vanilla flan is delicious.
Who hasn’t had some version of the Frito Pie and loved it? La Panza has this as a standard menu item. They are even served in the single serving Frito bag if you want. Other unique menu items to the café are the hominy pork stew or posole, served with red onion, shredded cabbage, oregano, a lemon wedge and a flour tortilla, made vegetarian upon request.
The atmosphere of La Panza is easy-going, family friendly and non-corporate and reflects the down-to-earth values of owners Andy and Jessica. They employ eight people and are proud to serve the food of their native New Mexico and offer a large selection of some of their favorites.
The full menu is available online at lapanzacafe.com.