Large as Arriba’s locales are, there is still a possibility it can go unnoticed due to its proximity to Salare and Junebug. It makes sense, I suppose, with those two becoming destinations thanks to James Beard, an award overshadowed only by Tortillaphilia’s coveted Four Mushrooms and – be still your beating heart – the yet to be awarded Four Mushrooms and a Mario.1
Yet, Arriba is a spot any self-respecting tortilla aficionado should try. It might not be quite up there with Barrio’s hepness or Lorena’s traditional take, but it hits a sweet spot right between them. Arriba bills itself as a Pacific Northwestern take on Mexico’s Pacific Coast cuisine, and it does so well.
The meal typically kicks off with an amuse-bouche consisting of pickles and jicama. The latter, in particular, has a fresh enough zing to prepare your palate for the main dish properly. One downer, mind you: only a single stick of jicama was served alongside the four pickles, which can be problematic unless you’re dining solo.
Arriba’s signature dish is the rotisserie Guajillo Chicken, and who are we to deny ourselves trying it for the main portion? For $18, you get half a chicken ($26 for the full), served with black beans and rice, as well as salsas roja and verde. The roja is worth savoring. It’s zesty, with just a pinch of heat, and it delicately flanks the lightly seasoned chicken. Take it as a compliment, by the way, that the chicken isn’t a full-on flavor bomb. It lets its tender meats do the talking, and the balance between flavors and char works quite well. It’s a chicken that’s not afraid to be a chicken, and I can respect that.
The plate is accompanied by four tortillas, and while I am, and always will be, a fan of double stacking, each one is easily robust enough to be stashed full of toppings. They’re flavorful, too, and pass the ever-important Could Be Consumed by Themselves test.
And with good tortillas, one can usually presume the regular tacos will be tasty, too. The chicken tinga was the winner of the trio we sampled – $15, including a generous portion of sides – though not too far ahead of short rib and carnitas.
It holds its own, Arriba. And it blends into Ravenna’s main drag where you can find a surprising amount of good restaurants. (Other than Salare and Junebug, you have spots like Crêpe Cafè & Wine Bar and Sod House Bakery, both which, while outside of the scope of this site, are recommended.) Hit Arriba up if you’re in the mood for that promised mix of the Pacific Northwest and Mexican coast, and while there, take note of other local eateries to try. It’s just what a gentleperson does.