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Eugene Weekly : 10.26.06

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Best of Eugene 2006-2007

forkin' good


1. Ring of Fire

2. Chao Pra Ya Thai Cuisine

3. Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine



1. Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine

2. Tie:   Chao Pra Ya Thai Cuisine

   Ring of Fire

3. Ta Ra Rin Thai Cuisine



1. Sweet Life Pâtisserie

2. Eugene City Bakery

3. Metropol Bakery

lifetime achievement award

Sisters in yum: Catherine and Cheryl Reinhart

This year, when looking at our categories, your ballots, our winners past, we realized something about Best of Eugene: Some people always win. OK, maybe not always, but with great consistency. And we began to think that perhaps it wouldn't hurt to recognize these repeat winners in some way. Like with a Lifetime Achievement Award — the first ever of which goes to Sweet Life Pâtisserie, the Best Bakery and/or Sweets winner for the last five years, and the purveyor of treats the likes of which have never otherwise been seen in Eugene. Tarts, croissants, quiches, cheesecakes, vegan cheesecakes that taste better than any real-cheese cheesecakes we've ever met, petit fours, tiramisu, cakes, quirky treats like mini "hamburgers" and "sushi" made entirely of sweets … and did we mention cakes? Cakes like the one on this issue's cover?

In singing the praises of Sweet Life, we'd be remiss not to include a lengthy verse about the confection wizards' Best of Eugene creation, a work of almost entirely edible art that depicts some of the things that most say Eugene. From Skinner Butte to the WOW Hall, rushing stream to clear cut, garden to compost, nutria to Ducks, the cover cake is everything we imagined and a good deal more. Sweet Life co-owner Catherine Reinhart says it was a lot of fun to make, which makes us happy — we just know it's a lot of fun to look at. And that the scent of frosting wafting through the office makes us think that maybe it's time for dessert.



1. The Horsehead

2. Rennie's Landing

3. Sam Bond's Garage

You can get crappy bar food anywhere in the world, except perhaps at Eugene's Horsehead. Offering collard greens, cole slaw, catfish, cornbread and all the other staples of Southern cookin', this joint rocks with lots of organic ingredients, a full line of hard liqs and pool tables. "It's food you don't usually find anywhere else," bartender Tiffany Cortez says. "It fills your stomach up and helps maintain you throughout your day." Or night, as the case may be.



Papa's Soul Food Kitchen & Blues Joint BEST BBQ

1. Papa's Soul Food Kitchen & Blues Joint

2. Hole in the Wall Barbecue

3. BBQ King



1. Burrito Boy

2. Burrito Amigos

3. Laughing Planet Café



1. Allann Bros. Beanery

2. Full City Coffee Roasters

3. Espresso Roma

Go to Allann Bros. 5th Avenue Beanery enough, and you'll start to notice a few things. Like the regulars. There's the bespectacled guy with his books, and the fellow with the long ponytail who's been going there for at least a decade. (How do we know? 'Cause we've been doing the same thing, of course.) You could make up stories for them, if you wanted — or you could just focus on yourself and your delicious coffee, quiche, bagel or sandwich. The Beanery has variety in spades, from the drinks to the clientele to the lunch options. There's always a table, they don't care if you sit for hours, they have wireless internet and you can almost always find the right section of whichever paper you like the best in the bin by the door.




1. Café Zenon

2. The Broadway

3. Café Lucky Noodle

A 25-year-old café in downtown Eugene! That's called staying power. Credit the fine service that has always come in a white shirt and tie. Credit the exotic menu — Thai tiger's tears salad, hirino souvlaki pork loin, izgara tavuk Turkish style chicken breast — with a fond nod to the old lunch favorite, Zenon chicken salad. Maybe most importantly, credit location, location, location and smart design. The café is freshly painted, a five-stool bar added and new lighting installed. The place is still noisy, but that might be calculated. Sit there in the middle of the traffic and chatter and enjoy the illusion that you're in the center of a really big city.



Cart de Frisco BEST FOOD CART

1. Cart de Frisco

2. Alexander's Great Falafel

3. One Bad Dawg

Magically appearing at the plaza on Willamette and Broadway during lunch hour, Cart de Frisco is a godsend to the downtown hungry hordes. The vendor – known simply as the "Sandwich Man" – works from a cart no bigger than a small closet, dishing up three grilled chicken entrees: Frisco stick, Frisco sandwich and Frisco salad. All three feature a "special Frisco sauce" and friendly banter (which recently consisted of locating the whereabouts of the "Saw-playing Girl"). Saw Girl, if you're reading this, call your parents. Or at least let the Sandwich Man know you're OK. He worries.



1. Marché

2. Café Zenon

3. Tie:   Adam's Place

   Café Lucky Noodle

Café Soriah



1. Red Agave

2. Chapala Mexican Restaurant

3. El Jarro Azul



1. Laughing Planet Café

2. Café Yumm!

3. Burrito Boy



1. Beppe & Gianni's Trattoria

2. Poppi's Anatolia

3. Café Soriah




1. The Vintage

2. El Vaquero

3. Papa's Soul Food Kitchen & Blues Joint

Cheese fondue with apples. Dark chocolate fondue with strawberries and Rice Krispies squares for dipping. Funky signature cocktails like the lava rocks, with coconut rum and Pop Rocks on the rim instead of sugar. Savory crepes. Sweet crepes. Delicious appetizers, pastas and salads. Pizza with a twist. Beautiful vine-draped outdoor courtyard. Friendly service. 'Nuff said.



Pizza Research Institute BEST PIZZA

1. Pizza Research Institute

2. Pegasus Pizza

3. Mezza Luna Pizzeria

We'll never forget our first PRI slice. We just didn't know what we were in for. Spinach, feta, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts … It's like the pizza wizards at PRI manage to make every ingredient — even the ones we'd never seen on pizza before, like peaches — somehow taste even better than usual. And where else is a slice of pizza a whole meal in itself? We made the mistake, that first trip, of ordering a slice of cheese to split with our dining companion. Just in case we were still hungry. We weren't.




1. Quinn O'Dell, Ring of Fire

2. Dawn Merrill, LaVelle Wine Bar & Bistro

3. Rayney Meisel, The Vintage

Serving at Ring of Fire was Quinn O'Dell's first restaurant job, one he has held for seven years. He'd like to run his own establishment someday, and he definitely prefers customer interaction to whisking sauces and scrubbing pots. "It's excellent!" O'Dell said, after learning he was a finalist for best server. So after getting this glorious recognition, O'Dell must think he's hot stuff, right? Naw, he's much too modest for that. "It's more like a confidence thing, just getting really confident in finding out what people want," he said. "You can always learn better ways to take care of people."



1. Café Soriah

2. Marché

3. Adam's Place



1. Laughing Planet Café

2. Lotus Garden

3. Café Yumm


Big Fish, Small Pond | Sex Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll | Dollars That Make Sense | Words, Images, Airwaves | Kitchen Sink | Forkin' Good | Staff Picks | Best of the Ballots |


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