We’ve been to ¡Oba! a few times. They’re a fun place to get some drinks with friends, and a nice place to get some of what they call “Nuevo Latino” food. By Nuevo Latino, they mean an interpretive mix of Caribbean, Cuban, South and Central American, and Mexican. They’re a little on the expensive side, although to our chagrin, most of Portland has been catching up to their prices so they really don’t look so expensive anymore. The ambiance is romantically dark steakhouse, but the place has been packed every time I’ve been there, and so it’s very energetic and kind of noisy. The vibe is uptempo, and the people-watching can’t be beat.
I only took one photo because the place is dark, so you’ll have to pardon the lack of photographs. The really cool thing about ¡Oba! is that they have a special menu, upon request, with dairy-free choices, vegetarian/vegan options, “healthy” options with smaller portions (dubbed Colin’s menu) and my personal favorite, the “wheat free” section. When I see “wheat free” I don’t necessarily think “gluten-free,” but our waiter assured us that the selections in this section are indeed gluten-free. We had a short conversation about their gluten-free offerings. They do take steps to prevent cross-contamination, although as with any restaurant that also serves wheat, ask questions.
We had some drinks and the butter lettuce with Spanish blue cheese salad. We also tried the Arroz Frito, which was either gluten-free or could be made gluten-free. That is coconut-flavored fried rice with corn, plantains, and diced avocado. The salad was good. The Arroz Frito was quite good, although we both thought it could use more coconut flavor.
After a lot of debating, I decided on the Cuban Pulled Flank Steak as an entree. This is described as a “traditional dish of braised flank steak pulled and formed into a patty, seared in olive oil, and served with boniato mash and corn salsa (braised in prepared spices).” In the gluten-free section of the special menu, they also have a seared rare ahi tuna appetizer, a mesquite-grilled fresh vegetable platter, cumin-coriander crusted New York steak, and a mesquite-grilled wild salmon fillet. So you can see my head was swimming with choices. (The New York Steak weighs in at 14 oz. Ouch!)
Sienna got the tacos off the happy hour menu, which sadly are not gluten-free, but which she heartily recommends. According to her report, they are less expensive, more delicious, and more properly filled than the tacos at Por Que No (Sorry, Por Que No).
I decided on the Cuban Pulled Flank Steak because our waiter recommended it, and because I love Cuban food. It’s really awesome. The flank steak is served on a bed of boniato mash. Boniato is a Carribean yam.
This dish is really amazing, and our evening at ¡Oba! was really excellent. The service was great. The food came out in a reasonable amount of time and our waiter was very helpful.
We want to know: Have you eaten at ¡Oba!? Have you had any of their dishes off the gluten-free menu? Tried any of their cocktails? Let us know!
Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Friendly But Ask Questions.
Times we have visited: 2 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same
555 nw 12th Ave Portland, OR 97209 / 503.228.6161