Argentine Sunday Traditions Come to Portland
The minds behind Abuela Chona's flaky empanada delicacies expand their family-owned business to include one of Portland’s foremost areas of expertise: delicious wine. The LaChona brand tasting room LaChona Empanadas y Vinos Argentinos opens in Portland with the same handmade pastries—plus an expanded menu and full wine experience, all hailing straight from Argentina.
The LaChona brand is built on a love story as old as time: celebrating the romance between food, wine, family, and friends.
It’s a deeply Argentine concept—and a personal one too. Co-owner Amelia Fuertes Mulé grew up in Lujan, where Sundays brought the family together for a “very classic, very standard, Argentine family gathering.”. Amelia’s grandmother, nicknamed Abuela Chona, would cook dinner with Amelia's mother while her stepfather fired up the grill week after week.
The Mulé family—and those sentimental recipes—have called Portland home since 2004. For years, the classic recipes served as the bedrock for dinner parties where Abuela Chona’s empanadas and the chimichurri of Amelia’s stepfather became fast favorites. Slowly, these recipes transitioned to mainstays of the Abuela Chona brand.
But it’s not just LaChona’s recipes that are authentically Argentine. To realize their vision, the couple hired an Argentine design firm to guarantee the layout, decor, and even color palette evoked those family-centered Sundays in Argentina. A soundtrack of modern, tango-tinged tracks coupled with Argentine art and food pairing brings Buenos Aires to life right in the middle of Cedar Mills. And of course, there’s the wine.
LaChona’s 640-bottle wine display is stocked with pours using grapes from both their personal 10 acres of Cabernet Franc and Malbec as well as those of their vineyard neighbors within the Vines of Mendoza, a winemaking co-op featuring one of the highest-rated resorts in the world. Behind each bottle is a passionate and well-connected wine producer, Francisco Evangelista. Twitter will testify: Evangelista has played guitar, grilled, or shared a bite with countless big-name winemakers in the Uco Valley. Evangelista’s passion is palpable in each LaChona bottle, and his family's years of winemaking experience shine through with every sip.
Wine quality is a given, but LaChona devotes special attention to an oft-overlooked aspect outside wineries: serving temperature. The tasting room boasts a custom-built display case perfectly temperature-controlled to ensure each pour comes out just how the winemaker intended. A 16-bottle wine dispenser keeps reds and whites ready to go at their respective temperatures, poised for pours ranging from half-ounce sips—one free per customer—through 2-ounce tastes, 5-ounce glasses, and full bottles. Wine offerings span young, reserva, gran reserva, and icon levels of aging—all available to wine club members with perks: 20% off in-house bottle prices, priority access to monthly off-menu wine dinner tickets, and no corking fee for bottles brought to the tasting room.
The LaChona crew knows good wine is made better with good company. The 50-seat space makes for a cozy, welcoming lunch with friends, a romantic dinner date for two, or an inclusive family meal for busy parents with kids in tow.
With the new space comes more room for menu experimentation. LaChona will still dish up the flaky, puff pastry empanadas of Abuela Chona, but menu newcomers include rotating tapas, vegetarian bites, classic desserts, and new flavors of the classic pastries that started it all.
Needless to say, Abuela Chona herself would be proud to see how Amelia's evolution of Sunday dinner has taken root in Portland.