Every neighborhood needs its perfect cafe. A cafe that gives the community a spot to meet, greet, caffeinate and nibble. A place that grooves on the vibe of the neighborhood and extends it, too.
In North Portland, SohBet is just that kind of cafe. Opened last September by North Portlanders David and Julia Santangelo, this eight-month-old spot is bright and airy, with rustic furniture, billowing fabric wall hangings and warm orange walls. The intriguing pastel ceramic ware is designed by Julia; if you fall in love with it, you can also buy pieces for your own.
SohBet has become a big hit. Maybe it's the free Wi-Fi that brings 'em in, maybe it's the comfortable digs, maybe it's the amazing Holy Moly mocha ($2.85-$3.45)—made with Stumptown espresso and Dagoba chocolate with chilies. I suspect, however, that one big reason is how kid-friendly it is. The owners are parents themselves, and they've made SohBet a magnet for moms and dads who want a welcoming place to bring their little ones. SohBet's two rooms keep the laptop contingent separate from the Lego contingent. The toy area has lots of stuff to explore, from art supplies to trucks. The menu is even thoughtfully designed with kids in mind. The "Baby Cafe" section features PBJs ($1.75), grilled cheese ($2), a fruit-and-cheese plate ($1.75) and even a scoop of Cheerios (50 cents) for the advanced-motor-skills set.
In fact, the menu as a whole is another major draw at SohBet (the name refers to sobet, the Persian word for inspiring conversation). While lots of cafes are content to dish out dry scones and achingly sweet muffins, SohBet offers more substantial fare. The "plates" ($5.25-$7.50)—piled high with white bean puree, Italian cured beef or Spanish tuna, along with cheese, olive oil, roasted tomatoes, olives and a stack of rustic bread slices to enjoy it all with—are meant to be shared while whiling away the afternoon chatting with a close friend. Or order up an oozy grilled panini ($5.75) with organic turkey, pesto and havarti cheese to keep away the intermittent spring rain's chill. If you've saved room, there are pastries from the Farmer's Market favorite Baker & Spice. On second thought, why go home at all?
2710 N Killingsworth Ave., 735-3446. 6 am-6 pm Monday-Friday, 7:30 am-5 pm Saturday-Sunday. $ Inexpensive.