Explore the New West
The American Local Opens on Division
This Wednesday, January 15, Portland’s thriving Division Street dining scene welcomes a new perspective: The American Local. Bringing a refreshing new look at American regional drinking food to the corner of Division and SE 30th Avenue, The American Local is the culmination of years of driving, dining and drinking all over the United States for co-owners and restaurant veterans Chris Whaley and Jenny Nickolaus.
Jenny and Chris take the large view on what it means to be American. Whether Oregon grown espelette pepper or local Ota tofu, Mad River beer or Chehalem wines, The American Local’s menu shines a light on the rich diversity of West Coast ingredients and cuisine.
“We’re all from somewhere – whether you grew up in Minnesota or your folks emigrated from Thailand,” says chef Whaley. “But wherever we are from, we all have a version of chicken noodle soup.”
The results are clean, flavorful, sharable plates that are familiar, with a twist: fluffy fried grit cakes are paired with delicately smoked salmon, while butternut squash skewers are drizzled with savory, house-made pistachio pesto. Drinkers and diners are welcome to select from a range of flavors, from simple to complex, as they take a road trip in many plates.
“Our symbol is the Dietz lantern from Syracuse. They’ve been a beacon for Americans for 100 years,” says co-owner and front of house manager Jenny Nickolaus. “I love that they’re a sturdy, traditional tool that can be used to explore new territory.”
On tap, thirsty patrons will find representatives from America’s best regional microbreweries, from Breakside Brewing in Portland to Abita in New Orleans. The taps at The American Local are for more than beer, however. Guests will be able to select from two wine taps and one tap dedicated to Oregon’s Momokawa sake. Cocktails will take their cues from the kitchen, with seasonal house-made sodas and classic American concoctions.
During 20 years at restaurants ranging from Michelin-starred Las Vegas palaces to pop-up sensations under the New York High Line, chef Whaley has honed a philosophy of clean, strong flavors and ego-less dedication to the customer experience. Jenny attended the Western Culinary Institute and from there ran the front of house for Picco (Larkspur, CA) and Hill Country Barbeque Market (New York City), which received a 2-star New York Times review during her management tenure. Jenny and Chris have been planning The American Local for five years, collecting dishes from many cross-country road trips and their own imagination.
The American Local, 3003 SE Division St.