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Chow! EW's quarterly restaurant guide

January 26, 2017 01:00 AM

For years the building at 1190 City View Street housed a dowdy local Mexican favorite named Nacho’s Restaurant, and for years the building blended right in: Complete with faux-adobe walls and a waifish, grinning hombre caricature, the restaurant had everything we’d come to expect of Eugene’s longest strip mall on 11th west of Chambers.

January 26, 2017 01:00 AM

“If we had a cow,” my daughter said, hope resonant in her voice, “we wouldn’t have to go to the store at all.”

We are not getting a cow. Our family is already scrambling and busy without the addition of milking anything.

January 26, 2017 01:00 AM

Step into Lewis + Clark Restaurant, a catering service turned full-time brick ‘n’ mortar restaurant on Martin Luther King Boulevard Jr. Boulevard in Eugene you’re greeted with a chalkboard reading: “Welcome to Our Humble Abode.” 

January 26, 2017 01:00 AM

The aroma of smoky mesquite lures your nostrils around the corner of West Broadway onto Olive Street, to Dos Banderas, the little food truck that could — and does — deliver the most authentic-recipe tacos, giant burritos, quesadillas and more for those craving that rarest of things in Eugene: Mexican food that is truly outstanding. 

August 25, 2016 01:00 AM

“It’s good but not as good as Michelle’s,” is something Carmen Nasholm heard often as her seven kids were growing up. Michelle Reid, Michelle’s husband Dave and their two children became friends with the Nasholms through church in 1993. 

“We always talked about how great it would be if I could have a place that sold jazz CDs and books and Michelle could have a lunch counter,” Nasholm says. In September 2015, once all but two of Nasholm’s kids had flown the nest, that dream became a reality with four tables plus a handful of stools in downtown Eugene. And, of course, a soundtrack of Nasholm’s preferred Dixieland jazz (most of the time).

August 25, 2016 01:00 AM

If Eugene were Japan, there would be an izakaya on every corner — maybe several. 

Most of them would be street stalls specializing in only one type of food, such as fish soup. Some, like the newly opened Izakaya Oyazi in the space of the former Granary Pizza restaurant, would have a broad menu. 

August 25, 2016 01:00 AM

Food journalists at respected culinary magazines venture that doughnuts are “having a moment” right now. Frenchified boutique pastries made with cage- and hormone-free ingredients at places like Blue Star — first in Portland then L.A. and Tokyo — masquerade as doughnuts and telegraph the coming of a revolution similar to the obnoxious cupcake uprising of yesteryear.

Feeling doughnuts slip away from the ordinary and into the purview of wealthy cosmopolitan foodies irks me because I know they are not meant for the haut monde. Dirt cheap and made from the worst stuff on earth, the glazed annulus fits neatly into my schlubby fist — the powerless fist of a futureless bum. Doughnuts are loser food. Knots of sugar and grease form perfect ballast for the all-night diner set, the “Nighthawks” Edward Hopper painted, folks with no place else to go.

August 25, 2016 01:00 AM

What you know about Middle Eastern food is probably wrong — at least according to Alaa Albaadani. That’s why she started the Mediterranean Network Restaurant, to share the traditional tastes from her home in Yemen, along with other staples from across the region. 

“I love American food, but every restaurant that is not American is Americanized,” Albaadani says. “I go to a Middle Eastern restaurant and it tastes totally different than what I’m used to. I get frustrated because people say, ‘This tastes good,’ and I say: ‘That’s not my food; that’s not the real thing.’” 

August 25, 2016 01:00 AM

Joy Knudtson is a force of nature.

As owner and operator of Brails Restaurant in south Eugene, Sang Joo (aka Joy) Knudtson provides a big measure of the joint’s appeal. On any given morning you can find her zipping around the linoleum floor of this old-fashioned American diner with the antic patterns of a human hurricane — part field marshal, part peppy maestro, all cult of personality. Her demeanor is flashy, welcoming and entertainingly out-loud, like a low-impact carnival barker, and the perpetual activity to which she subjects her environment belies a sly watchfulness that comes from running a busy café for the past 18 years.

August 25, 2016 01:00 AM

“I can ramble,” Jim Evangelista warns me with a twinkle in his eye as we sit down in his bakery off River Road. “And I’ve got lots to talk about.”

Evangelista does have lots to talk about — mostly words of praise for all the people, organizations and institutions that came together to make the nonprofit Eugene bakery Reality Kitchen and its brand-new pretzel food cart a rollicking success.

August 25, 2016 01:00 AM

It’s a familiar story: Pig & Turnip started out as a food stand in Eugene but with a stationary location that wasn’t easily accessible. Owner and chef Natalie Sheild decided it was time for a change. The German-inspired cuisine moved in February to its new location at Springfield’s Sprout! Regional Food Hub.

Sprout! is an incubator program that helps local small businesses grow. Pig & Turnip, along with a handful of other restaurants, is nestled in the Sprout! building. You’ll find it just past the courtyard of A Street and through large, heavy-set doors. As soon as you walk in, a barrage of different aromas fills the air.

June 16, 2016 01:00 AM

Buy local: It’s a mantra repeated with such frequency in the bountiful Willamette Valley that it’s almost lost all meaning. Let’s take a step back and look at some numbers. According to the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition, a 2010 analysis estimated that Lane County consumers are spending less than 5 percent of their food money on locally produced food. 

“OK, but locally produced food is hard to find,” you scoff.

Actually, that’s wrong! Lane County has an astonishing variety of locally grown foods — milk, veggies, fruit, herbs — and now that the Lane County Farmers Market is open on Thursdays as well as Tuesdays and Saturdays, locavores have even more opportunities to buy fresh produce. 

June 16, 2016 01:00 AM

local ice cream maker Coconut Bliss has built a nationally recognized brand name without sacrificing its core values of independence and integrity. Coconut Bliss marketing communications manager Elizabeth Reilly says these Eugene-style priorities are partially what make her company so unique. “We are one of the best examples of a family-run company in the region,” Reilly tells EW.

June 16, 2016 01:00 AM

I’m here to report that the Euphoria Chocolate Company in west Eugene bears little resemblance to the delicious Byzantine splendor of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Sadly, no orangey Oompa Loompas mobbed me at the entrance when I visited, and Euphoria proprietor Van Glass is practically the antithesis of that passive-aggressive tyrant Willy Wonka, whose benevolent disregard sent poor Augustus Gloop up the tube.

June 16, 2016 01:00 AM

Since the 1970s, Genesis Organic Juice has prided itself on providing a product that’s local, sustainable and 100-percent organic.

And in that mission, it’s taking on Big Soda.  

“Odwalla is a Coke product. Naked is a Pepsi product,” says Jonah Alves, president of Genesis Juice. “This new one, Suja, is a Coke product, and Evolution is a Starbucks product.” 

June 16, 2016 01:00 AM

In Eugene, we take comfort in having local stores and markets dedicated to wholesome organic food, from The Kiva and Sundance Natural Foods to Market of Choice. But where do they get their ingredients? For herbs, teas and spices, one top supplier is Mountain Rose Herbs.

June 16, 2016 01:00 AM

Traditional capitalism teaches bigger is always better. Not so with Lane County-based Sweet Creek Foods. 

“It isn’t sustainable to grow too large,” Sweet Creek owner and founder Paul Fuller tells EW. “You lose the flavor if you’re trucking everywhere.” 

Located near Elmira, family-owned Sweet Creek Foods works with Eugene-area farms and food producers, co-packing and preserving food for consumers from Bellingham to San Francisco. “We believe in a static growth,” Fuller says. “To go national takes fighting the big boys. We like the idea of being a regional player.” 

June 16, 2016 01:00 AM

Stroll through the Lane County Farmers Market on a Saturday morning and you’re bound to see Patricia Garcia's cheerful face at her colorful salsa stand. That same cheerful face is on all of her products, inviting salsa lovers to give Salsa Garcia a try.

June 16, 2016 01:00 AM

Granola is a health food and a symbol of the natural foods movement, and the word itself is sometimes used as a mildly derogatory epithet to describe a health-obsessed hippie. 

Whit Hemphill and Brad Averill, co-owners of Wildtime Foods, which produces Grizzlies Brand granola, say they embrace granola and all it stands for. 

April 7, 2016 03:00 AM

Born and raised in Eugene, NorthWest Burgers owner and chef Garrett Kirsch says he knows what Eugeneans want: “They want local, house-made products. I wanted to take something as simple as a burger and see how it goes.”

NorthWest Burgers, tucked away in the upstairs of 5th Street Public Market, puts a homemade twist on typically mass-produced “All-American” food. 

April 7, 2016 03:00 AM

Tradewinds Café & Catering Company co-owner Abbie Shadrick is on a mission to provide tasty, nutritious, Middle Eastern-inspired food on what used to be the site of a quiet, empty church at 4th and A Street in downtown Springfield. 

“We’re part of the restaurant incubator program here at Sprout!,” Shadrick says, gesturing around the welcoming space where diners are feasting on Tradewinds’ signature dishes, along with fare from neighboring restaurants, all housed in a cheerful, open dining room with high steel tables and plenty of light. 

April 7, 2016 03:00 AM

Padma Prakash worked as a prep cook at the Oregon Electric Station for more than three decades, she says. It was a hard pill to swallow when management changed in 2014 and slashed her pay.

Unsure what else to do, Padma Prakash— with help from her youngest son, Jayant Prakash — opened Crazy Curry, the bright yellow Indo-Fijian food cart on the lonely corner of River Road & Thomas Lane.

April 7, 2016 03:00 AM

For more than 60 years, the University of Oregon’s Erb Memorial Union has anchored campus, serving as a study hall, food court, meeting place and event space for generations of students. The building was constructed in three phases between 1950 and 1973, and although parts of it are architecturally valuable and are being preserved, the building overall no longer seemed suitable for today’s students. 

April 7, 2016 03:00 AM

Provisions Market Hall, located within the 5th Street Public Market, offers a nearby option for downtown Eugeneans to shop for meals, where once there were limited grocery store options, says Karl Zenk, executive chef for Provisions. 

“I used to live on 2nd and Pearl, just up the street, and this area was a real food desert,” Zenk says. “So this is really a great resource for all the people who live around here.”