In the land of all things delicious, anticipating a new restaurant opening becomes par for the course. When the flavors of Argentina arrive in wine country, you quickly take inventory of your lunch and dinner go-to’s, knowing that you’ll soon be adding a new locale to the mix. When those flavors are coming from SF’s famous El Porteño, you’re now a ready and willing supplicant to all things empanadas.
Argentina and Napa have many shared qualities, the fertile land, the wine, the farming history, strong traditions in food, all of which are mouthwateringly represented in El Porteño’s empanadas. It was an easy decision for owner Joseph Ahearne to choose our slice of paradise to bring a second location of his successful business. But why Napa?
“It’s a beautiful town that’s aware of what it brings to the world and knows how it to deliver it. There are few places, if any, in the world that celebrates the union between agriculture, nature, and food better than the Napa Valley.”
According to Ahearne, in addition to Oxbow’s amazing vendors and fantastic reputation, he believes Napa residents and visitors will recognize and appreciate the unique connection and traditional taste of Argentina. It also helps that Joseph is intimately familiar with Napa Valley. Growing up in Napa as part of a family with a strong bond to the area’s food and restaurant scene, returning to his roots feels natural.
His mother, originally from Argentina, owned Maria’s Restaurant in St. Helena while they lived on a farm raising Black Angus cattle and Red Duroc Hogs to serve their customers. The love of sharing food and wine didn’t end with the Ahearne matriarch; all of Joseph’s brothers and sisters have worked in some capacity in Napa’s hospitality industry. This deep history creates an intimate understanding between the local desires and the visitor curiosity.
When asked what he is most excited about when opening El Porteño, Napa Ahearne was quick to answer, “Being surrounded by the amazingly talented vendors not just at Oxbow, but all over the Valley and looking to learn from them. We’re also hoping to establish key partnerships with other similar businesses to help each other get through this crisis that has nearly decimated our industry. We’re Napa Strong”
In addition to their famous empanadas and alfajores at the market, you can expect traditional salads and a Mate Bar, including a line of house-made terrere (a traditional Argentine cold tea made with Yerba Mate). They also plan to have delivery service and some picnic packages to enjoy Argentina amongst the beauty of Napa Valley.
El Porteño arrives at Oxbow Public Market, September 2020!