One of the joys of being a traveler is exploring new places. Of course, one of the frustrating things about traveling is that sometimes you can’t find what you’re looking for. When I go somewhere new, one of the things I always want to find is good espresso. Unfortunately, I have been to towns where you just cannot find good espresso, no matter how hard you look.
I recently traveled Port Townsend, Washington, located on the Olympic Peninsula at the mouth of Puget Sound. It was my first trip to the area, and when I got there I was really in the mood for some coffee. Seeking the wisdom of “the cloud”, I sent out a tweet asking if anyone knew of a good café in Port Townsend. Someone responded and told me that I should go to the Undertown Café. He did not elaborate much, but I still decided to take his recommendation and check it out.
The café is located underneath one of the buildings (thus, the origin for its name) on Water Street. It can be a little hard to find if you don’t know where you’re going. The entrance looks like the entrance to an old subway station, and you might miss it if you don’t know what you’re looking for. When you walk down the stairs, for a moment you wonder if you are in the right place because all you see is a tunnel built from old bricks, stone and timbers. Don’t worry, your destination is at the far end of the tunnel (If you really don’t like tunnels, the café does have an above-ground back door, but it is hidden at the back of an alley-side parking lot).
Upon arriving inside, I found that the café served Stumptown coffee. I asked the barista about the coffee and she gave me a lengthy description of what they had to offer. I wasn’t going to give her a free pass on the espresso just because it was Stumptown coffee, but I thought she pulled a good shot. Apparently, Stumptown’s trainers have been doing their job well.
In addition to the coffee, the café has a lunch menu. When I was there on a Sunday morning, I also saw several people eating brunch. At one end of the café’s elongated rooms, a stage was set up for live performances. The café has live music on a regular basis, according to its Facebook page.
Despite the fact that it is located mostly underground, The Undertown is well lit and does not seem too cave-like. The café has character and Portlanders or other travelers who go there are likely to be pleased with what they find, even if they have high standards for their coffee. Overall, the Undertown Café is worth checking out—if you can find it.
Address: 211 Taylor Street, Port Townsend, Washington 98368 (map)
Hours: Sunday-Monday 6:30am-5pm
Free Wi-Fi? Yes
Recommend it? If you’re in Port Townsend and can find it
Website: http://www.theundertown.com/ (but their FB page is more informative)