Best of Eugene 2010-2011: Staff Picks
Best Thing About the Barmuda Triangle
If you get 86’d from Jameson’s by the bartenders with the funny black glasses, you can just stagger across the street to the Horsehead, Luckey’s, Cowfish … whatever. Note: The bartenders at Jameson’s are never amused when we ask them about their twinsie eyeglasses wearing habits.
Best Greasy Spoon You’ve Never Heard Of
Heading out to Dexter for a game of disc golf or out Hwy. 58 for hiking and hot springs? Start your day at Pleasant Hill’s Sunrise Café with coffee, hash browns and eggs fixed the way they like ’em in the country. Want to avoid the artery clogging fried food? No problem. Sunrise has “Hippie Cereal.” 35817 Hwy. 58, Pleasant Hill. (541) 746-1114.
Best Place to Check Out the Latest in Mac Computers
With the Mac Store moved off to Valley River Center, we weren’t sure where we could quickly bike to and check out iPads, iPods and the latest Macbook Air. Luckily, not only does The Wandering Goat have kickass coffee; it’s the best place in town to eyeball the newest Mac devices thanks to the hordes of laptop wielding hipsters who love their lattes as much as they do their high tech devices. 268 Madison St.
Best Place to Play Video Games with a Beer in Your Hand
It may not have as many arcade-style games as Portland’s Ground Kontrol, but Jackalope holds its own when it comes to frivolous kid-like fun. Jackalope attracts the unpretentious drinkers who gather to share pitchers of Mirror Pond and play pool, darts or a number of arcade games. Plus, few bars in the area seem to serve pitchers, and we’re big believers in sharing. The only downside is the popularity of the bacon and cheddar cheese fries. Expect to order several baskets if sharing with your beer-drinking buddies. 453 Willamette St.
Best Road Not to Hit a Deer On
Folks love to drive out Old Dillard through the South Hills because of its twists and turns — it’s where Castle’s Nathan Fillion tested out Arcimoto’s electric vehicle, the Pulse — but one family out there must have gotten tired of all the deer who’ve become roadkill, because someone’s put up our favorite street sign ever: It’s a hand drawn deer with her fawn behind her, warning “Deer slow, speed kills.” Just knowing that sign’s up ahead reminds us to watch for Bambis in the roads!
Best Fake Meat, Imitation Cheese and Other Flavorful Faux-Foods
No, you can’t make real cheese out of soy, almond or any one of those substitutes. But yes, vegan food can be pretty damn tasty. One visit to the Cornbread Café and we found our stomachs loving the easy-to-digest comfort foods: Mac unCheese that may not taste precisely like cheese but is undeniably delicious; Southern fried tofu with a texture mysteriously close to chicken nuggets; and yes, cornbread. Whether you’re like us and just like a change in menu now and then or are a strict vegan (they even have gluten-free items), you won’t be disappointed, so long as you pay attention to their hours — these guys close up for the day pretty early. 112 E. 13th Ave. 505-9175.
Been to Skateworld lately? We hadn’t been since, like, sixth grade. And nothing’s changed. OK, we hear they got a new floor, and it is pretty smooth skating. But stop in on Sunday’s ’80s nights and even the soundtrack is the same — along with the carpeted benches, the look of the snack stand and essentially everything else. Well, one thing is different: Back when we were kids, there weren’t badass Emerald City Roller Girl Junior Gems rocking fishnets and sleek skates all over the place. Chalk that one up as an improvement for sure. 3188 Gateway Loop, Springfield. 746-8424.
Best Thing About Biking in the Fall
The giant piles of wet leaves that turn an ordinary bike ride into an off-road adventure. The water-filled potholes add some extra zing and refreshing splashes of water up your back, but that doesn’t stop us from hopping on our bikes and trikes.
Best Thing about Eugene Cops
Easily startled by the statement “anarchists are organizing against us,” or the sight of a bunch of UO students with Duck themed cans of beer. Now that the Black Block seems to have faded away, it’s the sight of undergrads in Duck colors that gets the EPD all worked up.
Best Other Reason to Stop at Fisherman’s Market
Fresh fish, great fish and chips, local beer on tap … yeah, yeah, we know. What we can’t figure out is how this place seems to be staffed entirely by adorable, handsomely scruffy 20-something dudes, all of whom are just as friendly as can be. Depending on your aesthetic inclinations, you may find you have absolutely no problem standing around waiting for your to-go order to be ready. 830 W. 7th Ave. 484-2722.
Best Upstairs Bookstore (Hidden Behind a Wall of Nike Gear) That Actually Has Brilliant Staff Who Read, Think Hard about Books and Have Fine Literary Chops Plus Textbook Management Skills
That’d be the UO Bookstore (known to brand addicts as “the Literary Duck,” and no, we’re not going to use that name). We love you people and your displays and your fast ordering of almost any book in the world and your quiet aura in which to glance through the splendid selection of print you somehow spirit to the shelves. It’s not the closest bookstore to the Weekly, but it’s one some of us use as often as possible anyway. 895 E. 13th Ave. 346-4331.
Barry’s Espresso Bakery & Deli’s two locations in town — one on campus and one on 28th and Oak — offer heavy, delicious, build-it-yourself style sandwiches and awesome coffee. It’s locally owned and it locally rules. 57 W. 29th Ave., 343-6444; 804 E. 12th Ave. 343-1141.
Best Way to Steal Wireless Internet
Stand on your Sanipac cans until you pick up your neighbor’s password-free connection.
Best “Oh, shit, that’s pretty” Moment
Sometimes, when you’ve lived in a place for a long time, you forget about the things that make it great. And one of those things is the view from Skinner Butte on a cool, damp fall afternoon, the trees sending sparks of color up through downtown Eugene, the sun cracking through the clouds to the west and the birds floating on the wind. Yeah, we know: Roll your eyes and be too cool for such things. But seriously. If you haven’t been up on the butte in a while, you might be surprised.
Best Place to Be Surprised By a Punk Band You’ve Never Heard Of
Every once in a while, you’ll stumble into Tiny Tavern and catch an unheralded band — crammed into the corner under the single television and plugged into a P.A. that is all crackle and pop — blasting the patrons so loud their hair (or what’s left of it) is blowing back. The feel is completely nostalgic and makeshift, like when seminal bands like Black Flag or Minor Threat would rent out a porn theater or Elks Lodge to ply their aggressive wares. It ain’t pretty, but it feels good. 394 Blair Blvd. 687-8383.
Best Surviving Myth
Let’s get over it once and for all: Eugene is not a liberal haven. A small coterie of hard-core lefties, aided and abetted by an aging contingent of wavy-gravy, on-the-bus hippies, have somehow kept us all under the illusion that Eugene is a Berkeley of the North and a Madison of the West. But, considering the fiscal-geopolitical location of this place — basically midpoint between Seattle and the Bay Area, Silicon Valley and, a bit further, L.A. — we are a prime location for big moneyed neo-cons to settle and hide out under our patchouli cloud of nostalgic activism. We are outnumbered, Eugene. Don’t believe it? Ask yourself this: Why the hell did Sarah Palin choose Eugene to raise a load of cash? Yep, ain’t just longhairs holed up in the woods.
Most Missed Buskers
Now that there are no members of The Water Tower Bucket Boys left residing in Eugene, the virtuosic, well-oiled bluegrass that they belted out on our street corners every so often will certainly be missed. From Bob Dylan and Rancid covers to old time and originals, those guys had it all. Hats off to you, wherever you may roam.
Best Hardest Working Vets Who Deal with All Comers and Fight Cat and Dog Disease and Population Explosions
Yeah, the City of Eugene Spay/Neuter Clinic is inside the LCAS building, but as we’ve been, er, gently reminded, it’s the City of Eugene that runs this frankly wonderful little clinic. Get your animals vaccinated and fixed (PLEASE GET YOUR ANIMALS FIXED!) and microchipped and de-fleaed for quite a low fee (compared to local vet offices). The service keeps Eugene’s animals much healthier and happier, which helps the humans too. 3970 W. 1st Ave. 682-3643.
Band Most Likely to Play for Whiskey Shots
They may not be riding on the coattails of fame just yet, but The Whiskey Chasers still know how to have a good time. With a love for whiskey and foot-stomping energetic songs, The Whiskey Chasers have a knack for revving up a drunken crowd, and it’s not uncommon to see audience members clapping to the beat and swinging their partners around at a show. When it comes to instruments, this band can play just about anything — fiddle, banjo and washboard are some of their faves. Expect ballads about journeys, a few spiritual numbers and the occasional cover — such as an Americana-style version of Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”
The Other Best Mexican Food
Okay, so maybe El Taco Express is officially in Springfield, but our town wouldn’t be the same without it. This restaurant has the biggest burritos around, as well as the best value for your money. To be more specific, $7.50 will get you enough food to feed a family of three (and possibly a horse). There are peppers and onions to eat while you wait, one of those old school Virtua Striker arcade games and a surprising lack of grease considering it’s fast food. Seriously, this one’s a keeper. 647 West Centennial Blvd., Springfield. 741-3760.
When it comes to government, sunshine is the best disinfectant. In a reverse from previous top lawyers for the state, attorney general John Kroger has sought to shine light in some of the deepest crevices of state secrets. Because of him, we’re even seeing the UO loosen its clench on public documents. Embarrassed officials at the state PERS system and board of dentistry have taken the unheard of step of hiring their own lawyers to fight Kroger’s disclosure orders. When the light shines in, look what scurries.