With the SCA Expo starting tomorrow in Seattle, I flew into the Pacific Northwest a few days early and took the opportunity to spend three days in Portland, Oregon touring the city's expansive coffee scene before driving up to Seattle for the big event.
I visited fourteen cafes over the course of three days, many with impressive spaces serving up delicious coffee, but it was a small, rather hidden gem named Locale that caught my attention most during my visit.
Locale wasn't even a place on my original list to visit, but rather it was a recommendation from a manager at Good Coffee on Division street that led me to see what this place was all about.
It was on my second full day in Portland, after visiting four cafes in three hours I was desperate for food and water. In dire need to fill my stomach with something other than more caffeine, I decided to drive to Locale in the Mississippi Business District of Portland in hope of finding a food offering more than a pastry or cookie as is too often the standard in American cafes.
As I sat at the bar and got my hands on a menu, the food caught my attention. The menu includes appetizers and small snacks such as meats and cheeses among other things, but I was looking for something that was going to fill my stomach and that's where I landed on the Panini & Sandwich portion of the menu.
After looking at the options, I ordered the Salmon Sandwich. The ingredients listed are smoked salmon, avocado, cucumber, lemon, and vegan aioli. To go along with it, I ordered the Cafe' Racer coffee cocktail.
Within a few minutes the man working behind the bar, handed me my cocktail, the Cafe' Racer. After he prepared my drink, the same guy went to work prepping my sandwich. It wasn't a long wait and my sandwich was in my hands as well. The presentation of the food and beverage alone was photo-worthy.
The taste was even more surreal. Now anyone reading this, if you're new to my website. This is in fact a coffee blog, and not a food blog. I am no food critic, but I will tell you that you will be wholly satisfied with whatever you order when visiting Locale. The sandwich, the side salad, and the cocktail were fantastic and far exceeded expectations.
After having such a fantastic experience, I had to learn more about this establishment. It is not a groundbreaking idea to have a cafe that offers not just coffee, but also meal-worthy food, as well as beer & liquor at the same time. What I have found is that usually those types of establishments will be especially good at one thing such as cocktails, but their coffee program may not be on the same par.
Such is not the case at Locale. I tested this thoroughly by ordering a cappuccino after I finished my food and cocktail and I have to say that even the cappuccino was fantastic. The espresso from Heart Roasters was dialed in perfectly and the milk was frothed to the right texture and temperature.
Dustin Wight, the "man-behind-the-bar" as I've referred to him here, is the owner of Locale. He has a background in the service industry that includes working as a barista at Heart Roasters and as a bartender at Whiskey Library. It is apparent that he exceeded in both craft and skill from his time at these places, which he eventually decided to combine all together into his own establishment, and that is how Locale was born.
Dustin doesn't run this place on his own though. He has a few other employees that work for him and help keep the place running and satisfying customers again and again.
For those who enjoy cocktails, beer, and wine, I have good news for you. Locale is in the process of gaining a full liquor license which will allow them to expand their bar service even more in the near future.
All of this to say, if you live or travel in the Pacific Northwest and happen to find yourself anywhere in the vicinity of Portland, I highly recommend you visit Locale during your time in the area.
Locale is located at 4330 N Mississippi Avenue Portland, OR