Downtown Tacoma has a new casual sandwich cafe with the added bonus of craft beer served only in the can.
Black Kettle Bites and Brew opened in late February in the storefront at 744 Market St. that used to hold Rain City Cafe, a sandwich and coffee shop.
Partners in business and life — Rachel Ellenberg and Alicia Robinett — own and operate the business. They’re Texas ex-pats who first moved to Oregon, then Vancouver, then landed in Tacoma eight years ago. “We miss family, but we love the culture here,” said Ellenberg in a phone interview.
Here’s something else they love: Northwest craft brew. They offer 40 kinds of beer and cider — all in cans and almost all from Washington and Oregon, with a few California selections. There’s also wine in a can, which is from Oregon’s Union Wine Co. (the winery has a fitting motto of “pinkies down,” said Ellenberg).
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Here’s a quick first-bite report based on a single visit. It’s this newspaper’s policy to curtail all criticism of food and service during a restaurant’s first month, which is why the focus is on descriptions here.
Menu: Sandwiches, plus breakfast burritos served all day. Espresso and pastries in the morning.
Burritos: “We’re from Texas, so of course we had to have breakfast burritos,” said Ellenberg. There’s bacon, sausage or potato, $3.50 each. Each comes with scrambled eggs and cheese. They’re served with a side of salsa.
Sandwiches: Eight kinds of panini pressed sandwiches: veggie, turkey; turkey blt; regular blt; ham; Italian; roast beef; chicken bacon ranch. All $7.50, all with chips.
Snacks: Hummus, pretzels and dip, grilled cheese bites, nachos and salads ($3-$7).
Made in house: Chicken pot pie ($8.50) and pastries, including muffins and quick breads.
Brew: Find all kinds of Northwest cans, with local representation from Silver City and 7 Seas.
Texas beer? Of course they have Shiner. They’re from Texas.
Beer list: Find the list of beer, wine and cider written in chalk on the column to the left of the front register.
Atmosphere: Casual, seat-yourself cafe. Order at the counter. Plenty of four-tops and larger tables for bigger groups. Television screens for game viewing.
Repurposed items: “Some of the new tables are made from the old shelving units. This is a great historical building and we figure doing small things like reusing materials help carry the history on,” said Ellenberg.
Happy Hour: Dollar off beer and wine, 4-7 p.m.
Coffee: They serve espresso from Tacoma’s Bluebeard Coffee Roasters.
The name: “Everyone knows the saying, the pot calling the kettle black,” said Ellenberg. “We’ve all been the black kettle. We’ve all been accused of something or other, but our place is about being here to be ourselves, to live and let live.”
Black Kettle Bites and Brew
Where: 744 Market St., Tacoma; 253-383-2233; facebook.com/blackkettlebitesbrew.
Hours: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 7 a.m.-11 p.m; Fridays; 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturdays; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays.