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Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 10.25.07



BEST OF EUGENE 2007: Tightrope Walkers and Trapeze Artists | Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll |Eat Freaks | The Incredible Shrinking Wallet | Sights, Sounds, Scribbles Everything Else Under the Big Top | Trap Door | We're So Vain | Staff Picks | Best of the Ballots

 

EAT FREAKS

BEST COFFEE

Wandering Goat

1. Wandering Goat Organic Coffee Roasters

2. Full City Coffee Roasters


3. Dutch Bros.

Last year, sometime around Best of Eugene, a fellow stopped by our offices. We can't remember quite what he was here for, but we remember one thing: He pointed out the Wandering Goat ad and told us, "Next year, they'll win best coffee. You mark my words."

OK, those may not have been his exact words, but they're close. And this mysterious psychic was right: The new kids on the coffee block have upended a previously rather static category with their organic, all fair-trade coffee, which you can drink both in their lovely Whiteaker space and at restaurants around town. It's not just coffee Wandering Goat does well, either: The café also won Best Stop on the Last Friday Artwalk (could this have anything to do with the free espresso shots on Friday afternoons?) and came in second for Best Blog with The Crema.

 

BEST BARISTA

1. Dillon Turner, Midtown Espresso & Coffee

2. Beverly Edge, Wandering Goat Organic Coffee Roasters

3. Alonzo Moore, Marché Provisions

 

BEST BREAKFAST

1. The Glenwood

2. Studio One Café

3. Brail's

 

BEST BAKERY/SWEETS

1. Sweet Life Pâtisserie

2. Eugene City Bakery

3. Metropol Bakery

 

BEST LOCALLY BAKED BREAD

Metropol

1. Metropol Bakery

2. Eugene City Bakery

3. Hideaway Bakery

We wonder whether voters picked Metropol because a) the bread is damn near perfect, with its crispy crust and pillow-soft insides, b) their name freaking rocks or c) it's free if you dumpster-dive behind their Willamette Street location. While we support purchasing the bread while it's still warm and fresh, the care with which Metropol makes their leftovers available to Eugene's bread-hungry, cash-strapped population is worthy of the highest praise. Sort of like free online music sharing, this kind of goodwill attitude will be reciprocated through a loyal base of customers. Which, if this poll is correct, they have certainly accomplished.

 

BEST BBQ

1. Papa's Soul Food Kitchen & Blues Joint

2. Hole in the Wall Barbecue

3. BBQ King

You love Papa. And who wouldn't? Other folks in town make soul food staples, but once again Eugene has recognized that no one puts out a better soul package than Papa. More than just excellent barbecue and fried nibbles, Papa's sets you in a soul mood with the right walls, the right floor and a perfect table on which to set a big Mason jar of Kool-Aid.

 

BEST BURRITOS

1. Burrito Boy

2. Laughing Planet Café

3. Burrito Amigos

If we had a Best Bang For Your Buck category, we'd pretty much expect to see Burrito Boy top it. Where else can you get, for $2.50, so much food you don't even want to think about eating again for at least eight hours? Surely there's somewhere, but in terms of convenience, price and the magic of comfort food, it's hard to beat a Burrito Boy bean and cheese burrito, especially on a cold, crappy Eugene day. (These burritos, they also make good hangover breakfasts, too. Honest.) And if you feel like splurging, there are even bigger options galore. We just can't tear ourselves away from the basics.

 

BEST MEXICAN/LATIN AMERICAN/CARIBBEAN

1. Red Agave

2. Chapala Mexican Restaurant

3. El Jarro Azul

Red Agave is the first place one of us ever had a whole-leaf Caesar salad and a drink made out of fresh blended Roma tomatoes. It was love at first bite for her, and for much of Eugene; Red Agave was voted Best New Restaurant the first year it opened. Step into the chic, understated world of this Latin food oasis and find out why it has continued to tempt culinary connoisseurs back again and again with fresh, local ingredients, magnificent bar menu and crème de la crème service. Even the bathrooms make you feel like you are in a truly special place.

 

BEST THAI

1. Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine

2. Ring of Fire

3. Ta Ra Rin

 

BEST ASIAN (OTHER THAN THAI)

1. Ring of Fire

2. Lotus Garden

3. Sakura

 

BEST ITALIAN/GREEK/MIDDLE EASTERN

Beppe and Gianni

1. Beppe & Gianni's Trattoria

2. Poppi's Anatolia

3. TIE: Ambrosia / Café Soriah

 

BEST NEW RESTAURANT

1. Davis' Restaurant

2. Evergreen Indian Cuisine

3. Asado Latin Bistro

Much can be said about Davis' attempt to fit into its highly visible location on the corner of Olive and Broadway. Trying to bring a dash of sophistication to a corner notorious for rowdy nighttime activity is a tall order, and Davis' manages to make it work, balancing plenty of elegant table seating for lunch and dinner, a full bar with an enticing cocktail menu, half-orders for those who want to focus on their drinks and — once the bewitching hour hits on the weekend — its transformation into a hot and sweaty fishbowl discotheque (though we worry about the beautiful wood floor taking so much abuse!). If they started showing cool movies in its banquet wing we'd never have a reason to leave. Seriously! We're also happy to see Corvallis export Evergreen Indian Cuisine in the runner-up spot, as their food is OMG! delish and, more importantly, reasonably priced. And rounding out the list is Asado, the latest venture from the owners of Red Agave and El Vaquero.

 

BEST PIZZA

1. Pizza Research Institute

2. Mezza Luna Pizzeria

3. Pegasus Pizza

 

BEST FOOD CART

1. Cart de Frisco

2. Alexander's Great Falafel

3. Azure Ocean

 

BEST BAR FOOD

1. The Horsehead

2. Sam Bond's Garage

3. Diablo's Downtown Lounge

We realize people probably vote for the Horsehead for best bar food because of the gumbo, the generously-sized meaty entrées, the so-hot-it-burns habanero-mayo catfish sammich. But we have two words for you: fried pickles. Don't mock it 'til you've tried it! (Yes, they're so good we mentioned them last year, too. With some things, we are creatures of habit.) Sometimes there's simply nothing that compares to the salty, ranch-dressing-dipped crunch of a well-battered dill spear. Except, well … there are also those bacon cheddar fries. Late-night pick-me-up or tasty dinner, the Horsehead's got you covered.

 

BEST VEGETARIAN OPTIONS

1. Laughing Planet Café

2. Café Yumm!

3. Lotus Garden

 

BEST MEAL UNDER $7

1. Laughing Planet Café

2. Café Yumm!

3. Burrito Boy

 

BEST SPECIAL OCCASION DINING

1. Marché

2. Café Soriah

3. Beppe & Gianni's Trattoria

When it's time for pristine white cloth napkins and crisp, well-designed menus, you head to Marché, the crown jewel in Stephanie Pearl Kimmel's ever-expanding (in a good way!) gourmet food mini-empire. With its open kitchen, floor-to-ceiling windows, talented cooks and bartenders and friendly waitstaff, Marché is the place to take your family — or the date on whom you want to make a good impression. If you're not quite up for a full meal, have a seat at the bar and try the charcuterie plate. Don't be afraid! That chicken liver paté is so rich it ought to win any (meat-eater) over. Got a promotion? New job? New degree? New dress you feel compelled to wear? Here's the dinner with which to celebrate.

 

BEST SERVICE

1. Ring of Fire

2. Marché

3. Adam's Place

Attentive servers who know the difference between green and red curry, a scratch and a chili margarita, tofu and tempeh — they keep our water glasses refilled, our table cleared of finished plates and our ears filled with suggestions for just one more tasty item from the kitchen. They're friendly and helpful, willing to talk but not chatty and full of the right kind of attention