Eugene Weekly : Best of Eugene : 2010-2011


Best of Eugene 2010-2011: Eats


Best bakery (bread/savories)

1. Hideaway Bakery 3377 E. Amazon Dr. 868-1982.

2. Metropol Bakery 2538 Willamette St. 465-4730.

3. Eugene City Bakery 1607 E. 19th Ave. 334-6906.

Mmmm, Hideaway Bakery on a Sunday morning in the winter, as the kids play in the sandbox near the heater and your South Eugene neighbors all troop by, talking about Halloween costumes and Thanksgiving parties and winter holiday plans, tearing off big chunks of warm bread or nibbling on breakfast burritos and muffins or the prized potato doughnut (we know, that’s not savory). On a Saturday instead of a Sunday, the parking lot fills with a year-round farmers market, where purchasing cabbages as big as a person’s head, duck eggs (with yolks about as big as those cabbages), nuts, meats and other local goodies goes along with the yummy breakfast. The ordering system’s a mess (remodel?), but worth it for the wood-fired oven-baked treats and tasty coffee and the devotion to biodynamic and environmentally friendly practices. Metropol’s seeded baguette stands on its own and possibly deserves a lifetime achievement award — and Eugene City Bakery’s brötchen thrill even the pickiest German visitors.

Best bakery/sweets

1. Sweet Life Pâtisserie 755 Monroe St. 683-5676.

2. Holy Donuts! 1437 Willamette St.  510-6635.

3. The Divine Cupcake 1680 W. 11th Ave. 543-5757.

Yum. Sweet Life. ‘Nuff said. Oh wait: Two newish, locally owned, small and charming bakeries come in second and third. Holy Donuts! not only serves up vegan doughnut goodness (some are, some are not; and yes, purists, they do sit near each other in the serving case) but also game nights, soups, sandwiches, communal hanging out, leftover doughnuts for the taking at the end of the day and a generally great attitude that makes Willamette Street all the better. Divine Cupcake … mmmm. This one happens to be down the street from several Weekly staffers, and it’s located conveniently close to Ring of Fire as well, which means dinner and dessert aren’t far apart. Eugene’s a sweets-lovin’ town, and of course the magnificent Sweet Life likely will stay on top for a good long time, but don’t lose sight of the other new, niche places. There’s this other doughnut shop too … 

Best place to eat with kids

photo by todd cooper

1. Laughing Planet Café 760 Blair Blvd. 868-0668

2. Papa’s Pizza 1700 W. 11th Ave.; 1577 Coburg Rd.; 4011 Main St., Springfield.  485-5555. 

3. Turtles Bar & Grill 2690 Willamette St. 465-9038.

Don’t laugh — there really are plastic dinosaurs scattered about the place. Laughing Planet makes it seem normal to have rowdy kids fighting each other for toys while parents chit chat and eat. Food for the little ones is healthy and straightforward: organic mashed potatoes, rice and beans, quesadillas. But the philosophy behind the menu is unique: to merge convenience and quick service with healthy, “real” food. Laughing Planet is perhaps best known for burritos, which run the gamut from your basic bean and cheese to the Che Guevara, which includes plantains, sweet potatoes and barbecue sauce. Whole grains, lots of fresh vegetables and local foods — all of which actually taste good. 


Best BBQ

1. Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen & Blues Joint 400 Blair Blvd. 342-7500.

2. Hole in the Wall Barbecue 3200 W. 11th Ave., 683-7378; 1807 Olympic St., Springfield, 726-1200.

3. BBQ King 18th & Pearl. 915-3252.

Where else? Papa’s Soul Food has long been our favorite: that fancy menu, those excellent prices, the complete and utter comfort that can be found in filling our bellies with cornbread, hush puppies and perfectly barbecued meat. We recommend being adventurous; try your best to do the entire menu over the course of your life. From catfish and oysters to fried chicken and pulled pork, there really isn’t a dish not worth trying. Great atmosphere, great food and great times: It’s not hard to see why y’all love it.

Best barista

photo by trask bedortha

1. Thomas Howard, Wandering Goat Coffee Company 268 Madison St. 344-5401.

2. Sheena Gannon, Full City Coffee 842 Pearl St. 344-0475.

3. John Crane, Gary’s Coffee 525 High St. 868-1608.

Thomas Howard has been working as a barista for the Wandering Goat Coffee Company for just over three years now, and in that time he has managed to gain the respect of customers across the city. Relaxed, refreshing and clearly enjoying the atmosphere of the shop, he’s always down to slide a steamer in your direction. “I love it,” he says. “They treat me well.” Well, Thomas, you’ve been treating us well for a few years now, and our hats are off to you.


Best breakfast

1. The Glenwood 1340 Alder St., 687-0355; 2588 Willamette St., 687-8201.

2. Studio One 1473 E 19th Ave. 342-8596.

3. The Keystone Café 395 W. 5th Ave. 342-2075.

Delicious food is on the horizon if you’re on the prowl for some good eats in the morning — or, for that matter, any time of the day — because Glenwood is calling your name. The Eugene legend has two locations — campus and Willamette — monster plates of grub, relaxing atmosphere and fair prices. Don’t be disheartened if the place is packed; not only is this a sure sign that the food is good, but it won’t be too long a wait with the fast and friendly service. When hunger pangs strike on a lazy Sunday morning, the Glenwood is the place to go.

Best hangover breakfast

1. Brails 1689 Willamette St. 343-1542.

2. The Glenwood 1340 Alder St., 687-0355;

2588 Willamette St., 687-8201.

3. The Keystone Cafe 395 W. 5th Ave. 342-2075.

Brails has been the accepted hangover breakfast spot in Eugene for some time now, and as a result, the place is adorned with plaques, signs and newspaper clippings that boast of their ability to make our crapulous mornings bite the dust. There’s a reason for this: Counting the times that we’ve craved some wholesome greasy spoon action the morning after is a near impossible task, and Brails is always right there waiting to satisfy our desires. Prices are cheap, coffee is bottomless and the service is quick. If you’re in need of a place to help you walk straight, clear the thunderstorm in your head and de-fog your eyes, Brails is without a doubt Eugene’s best.

Best burger

1. Cornucopia 295 W. 17th Ave. 207 E 5th Ave, Suite 109. 485-2300.

2. Dickie Jo’s 201 E 13th Ave, Suite A. 636-4488.

3. McMenamins E. 19th St.: 1485 E. 19th Ave. 342-4025. High Street: 1243 High St. 345-4905. North Bank: 22 Club Rd. 342-5622.

Making a hamburger is a little like playing chess: The rules are simple, but the game itself takes a lifetime to master. But, unlike chess, it’s pretty hard to screw up a burger. You’ve got your bun, your meat, condiments, maybe a slice of cheese. All of which makes it that much more impressive that Cornucopia’s burgers are so damn delicious. Made from local, hormone-and-antibiotic free beef, the Corn’s gargantuan half-pound burgers practically overwhelm the basket they’re served in, and when you partake of the best among their juicy varieties — such as Big Baby Bleu with its bacon and blue cheese, or Wild Bill’s Bacon BBQ Burger slathered in rich sauce — you’re in for a gorgeous mess of marathon eating.

Best coffee

1. Wandering Goat Coffee Company 268 Madison St. 344-5401.

2. Dutch Bros.

3. Full City Coffee Roasters 295 E. 13th Ave., 465-9270; 842 Pearl St., 344-0475.

The Goat! They roast their own, pull shots to their exacting specifications or dump ‘em out and pull again, try real hard not to give iced mocha enthusiasts the “You’re ruining the crema!” look, put art on their walls and music on their stage. OK, it’s a little out of the way unless you’re heading for the river path or going to Upstart Crow or the Whiteaker School, but that’s the point: The coffee’s worth a few extra blocks. Thanks, Goat, for keeping Eugene hyped out of its mind, or as out of its mind as Eugene has ever gotten.

Best food cart

1. Cart de Frisco Oakway Center; UO Bookstore.

2. Viva Vegetarian 12th & Willamette.

3. Devour Location/schedule varies.

In addition to being voted best food cart, Cart de Frisco could also be voted most sensible. Its menu keeps its simple with five dishes of char-boiled chicken, including a particularly popular chicken sandwich. Umbrellas cover its ordering spot, but you may as well eat out in the rain so that the crumbs from the messy, delicious sandwich are washed away. Price is another plus: if all you have is a few dollars, you can take a ride on the Frisco Stick for just $3.50.

Best Italian

1. Beppe & Gianni’s Trattoria  1646 E. 19th Ave. 683-6661.

2. Mazzi’s 3377 E. Amazon Dr. 687-2252.

3. Ambrosia Restaurant & Bar 174 E. Broadway. 342-4141.

Like Grandma’s cozy living room, Beppe and Gianni’s has a warmth that’s about more than just the food. Despite its unassuming exterior, there’s usually a constant shuffle of people in and out of the restaurant. Voted best Italian restaurant year after year in the Weekly, Beppe & Gianni’s lends itself to the one-year anniversary or birthday celebration, not a Wednesday night when you don’t feel like cooking. The menu has an air of sophistication; choose from dishes like Pesce del Giorno (fresh fish), Capelli d’ Angelo Alla Mediterranea (an angel hair pasta dish) or Insalata Mista (a mixed green salad). 

Best Mediterranean

1. Poppi’s Anatolia 992 Willamette St. 343-9661

2. Café Soriah 384 W. 13th Ave.  342-4410

3. Caspian 863 E. 13th Ave. 683-7800. 

Poppi’s might be the most dependably good of Eugene’s mid-range eateries. The spices, the veggies, the delectably cooked lamb, the feta cheese, the olives, the taramosalata, the gyros (with pita that’s just strong enough to hold the overflowing mix of tasty treats but warm and soft as well), the gharides saganaki (Oh. My. God.), and the feel of a neighborhood spot that knows what it’s doing, cares about its staff and customers and fits perfectly into the life of downtown. Soriah’s more of a high-end date place (or late-night drinking; yes, we know), plus a place you can take parents when they visit, and the food’s always superb, the drinks excellent and the service often great. If you’re near campus and in the mood for fast, decent food, try out Caspian; it’s not expensive, and it covers many bases (especially if you like the famous double cheeseburger).

Best Mexican/Latin American/Caribbean

1. Chapala Mexican Restaurant 68 W 29th Ave., 683-5458; 136 Oakway Center, 434-6113

2. Red Agave 454 Willamette St. 683-2206

3. Burrito Boy 943 River Rd., 689-7970; 

30 W. 10th Ave., 344-5856; 510 E. Broadway, 344-8070; 2511 W. 11th Ave., 338-4219

Chapala may not be the kind of tiny hole-in-the-wall that makes most people think “authentic Mexican food,” but it needs a lot of space to feature so many menu items. With dishes ranging from chicken to beef to seafood — and a generous vegetarian menu — there’s something for everyone. If all these options are too much to choose from, the combination plates include a smidge of variety in a single order. And the full bar makes Chapala an option for launching a night of carousing.

Best pizza

1. Pizza Research Institute 530 Blair Blvd. 343-1307.

2. Pegasus Pizza 790 E. 14th Ave., 344-4471; #4 Oakway Center, 344-0844.

3. La Perla Pizzeria Napoletana  1313Pearl St. 686-1313.

When in doubt, add it to your pizza — such is the mentality to adopt before setting foot in one of the most creative pizza places around. Maybe you’ve never tried a pizza topped with pear, pesto and herb roasted potatoes, but now that the Pizza Research Institute has invented it, you might want to rethink your pizza values. The “periodic table of toppings” includes, among the unusual items, winter squash, cauliflower, peach, pineapple, sweet potato and walnuts. PRI is a good compromise between catering to specialized diets and pleasing the pizza lover with curious taste buds.

Best place to eat when you’re not paying

1. Marché 296 E. 5th Ave. 342-3612

2. Café Soriah 384 W. 13th Ave. 342-4410

3. Belly 291 E. 5th Ave. 683-5896

So, yeah, this category was a little awkwardly named. But most of you got what we were getting at: Where do you want to go when, say, your parents are in town and treating you to a birthday dinner? Marché, with its delectable, seasonally focused menu of dishes made from locally sourced produce, meat and more, topped the list, and we understand why. From the cocktails to dessert, from the charcuterie plate to the beef tenderloin, Marché has a lot to tempt diners, especially omnivores — and not everyone can afford a $32 entrée every time she goes out. So let someone else treat. Just don’t forget to treat yourself sometimes, too: Marché’s bar menu is packed with equally tasty fare that doesn’t take such a bite out of your pocketbook.

Best place to take vegetarians

1. Café Yumm!  1801 Willamette St., 686-YUMM; 130 Oakway Center, 465-YUMM; 730 East Broadway, 344-YUMM; 1005 Green Acres Rd., 684-YUMM; The Crossroads, 3340 Gateway St., 747-YUMM; Sacred Heart, 3333 RiverBend Dr. 736-YUMM

2. Laughing Planet Café  760 Blair Blvd. 868-0668

3. Pizza Research Institute 530 Blair Blvd. 343-1307.

Oh Yumm! We at the EW aren’t alone in our love for you, apparently. We know that, of course, from the long lines of South Eugene High School students at the Meridian Yumm, the long lines of UO students/staff/faculty at the Franklin Yumm, the long lines of hospital workers at the PeaceHealth Yumm, the long lines of … you get the picture. Tofu skewers: divine. Yumm bowls: Why the phrase “nom nom nom” was invented. Yumm! has a multitude of options for vegetarians and vegans, the latter of which can make any Yumm! bowl vegan by asking (they’ll sub carrots and cabbage for sour cream and cheese), and chicken-eaters can come along with their veggie partners and friends as well. Pro tip: If you like Annie’s Green Goddess dressing, you’re likely to enjoy Yumm! sauce. If not, enjoy some of the other options at the friendly, bright, clean franchises. Laughing Planet only has one place in Eugene (at the moment), but it’s a fave of many a vegetarian/meat-eater couple for its commitment to locally grown veggies and beans as well as non-factory-farmed meat. And Pizza Research Institute pioneered the use of crème fraîche on pizza — give it a whirl!

Best sushi

1. Sushi Domo 1020 Green Acres Rd., 343-0935; 2835 Oak St.

2. Sushi Station 199 E. 5th Ave. 484-1334

3. Izumi Sushi and Grill 2773 Shadow View Dr., 683-1201

The Sushi Domo menu is overwhelming at first glance. Owner and chef Yonng Oh clearly wants to make sure no delicious sushi dish is left out. And all sound absolutely delicious. Yonng Oh proudly calls his many creations “fusion style” menu items, a combination of Japanese and American cuisine. Until recently, customers had to drive to a location off Green Acres road to get the best sushi in Eugene, but with a second Domo now at the Southtowne Shoppes, Eugene’s favorite mouth-watering sushi is that much more accessible. 

Best Thai

1. Ta Ra Rin Thai Cuisine 1200 Oak St.343-1230

2. Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine 941 Pearl St. 284-2944; 1219 Alder St.

3. Tasty Thai Kitchen 80 E. 19th Ave., 302-6444. 1308 Hilyard St., 343-0165.

Sometimes dubbed “Thai-hop” for the lineage of its building, Ta Ra Rin is to Thai food what Superman is to superheroes, minus the Kryptonite: The restaurant seems to have no weakness. It’s a great place to maw down on the basics, like pad Thai or any of the six different curries, and the chef’s specials are worthy of their very own menu — each dish is a taste bud delight. Ta Ra Rin also features tantalizing desserts like avocado ice cream and sticky rice with mango that give cake and ice cream a run for their money.

Best Asian that’s not sushi or Thai

1. Toshi’s Ramen 1520 Pearl St., 683-7833

2. Lotus Garden Vegetarian Restaurant810 Charnelton St. 344-1928.

3. Noodle Bowl 860 Pearl St.

Ramen isn’t just for starving college students! Toshi’s serves ramen made fresh in the restaurant, and it’s a far cry from the dehydrated variety. Aside from noodles, we’re wild about the gyoza, which are meat-filled Japanese dumplings. Teriyaki chicken is also on the menu, but that’s for days when we can tear ourselves away from the ramen, which is like an ultra-romanticized memory of college.

Best under-$5 deal

1. Burrito Boy 943 River Rd., 689-7970; 30 W. 10th Ave., 344-5856; 510 E. Broadway, 344-8070; 2511 W. 11th Ave., 338-4219

2. Café Yumm! 1801 Willamette St., 686-YUMM; 130 Oakway Center, 465-YUMM; 730 East Broadway, 344-YUMM; 1005 Green Acres Rd., 684-YUMM; The Crossroads, 3340 Gateway St., 747-YUMM; Sacred Heart, 3333 RiverBend Dr. 736-YUMM

3. Pegasus Pizza 790 E. 14th Ave., 344-4471; #4 Oakway Center, 344-0844.

Forget the soup kitchens. In the Great Recession, we got our burritos. You get warm beans and cheese and a tortilla and free salsa in two different hues and temperatures, all for three bucks. What a deal! That’s just more than 20 minutes of work at Oregon’s minimum wage. If you can find a job, that is, with unemployment above 10 percent. If you’ve got a job and want something more chewy, you can get your burrito asada and still have enough change for a gumball.

Best wine

1. King Estate Winery 80854 Territorial Hwy 942-9874

2. Sweet Cheeks Winery 27007 Briggs Hill Rd. 349-9463.

3. Territorial Vineyards 907 W. 3rd Ave. 684-9463.

Best winery to visit

1. King Estate Winery 80854 Territorial Hwy 942-9874

2. Sweet Cheeks Winery 27007 Briggs Hill Rd. 349-9463.

3. Hinman/Silvan Ridge 27012 Briggs Hill Rd. (866) 5-SILVAN.

For once Eugene Weekly readers and the Eugene Chamber of Commerce agree on something! The Chamber voted King Estate “Business of the year” because of its “triple bottom line of sustainability — financial, social and the environment.” EW readers gave a big thumbs up to King Estate’s award- winning wines: You can’t go wrong with the pinot gris, and the cost won’t break the bank. For a nice long bike ride, or a destination to bring out-of-town friends, a trip to King Estate’s rolling hills, winery and restaurant is the way to go. You can do a wine tour, have a wine tasting and end it all with a delicious dinner.

Best new restaurant

photo by trask bedortha

1. Osteria Sfizio 105 Oakway Center. 302-3000.

2. Izakaya Meiji Company 345 Van Buren St. 505-8804. 

3. The Granary 259 E. 5th Ave. 343-8488.

Osteria Sfizio is one of the best reasons to go to North Eugene, and a new grand dame in town. The former executive chef at Marché, Chef Rocky Maselli, opened the modern Italian restaurant in June. With an open floor plan that still manages to be cozy, salvaged Doug fir on the walls and intimate booths, Sfizio has already won awards for its design.

Like a French brasserie, an Italian osteria welcomes locals for casual cocktails and bar nibbles in lieu of fancy dining. And Sfizio [Suh-FEET-see-o] can be translated as a whim or craving. The restaurant offers an ever-evolving seasonal menu punctuated by Italian regional dinners and brunches on the weekend. 

We caught up with Chef Maselli on a day the restaurant had received a shipment of four pigs from Laughing Stock Farm, two of which were living composters — fed on Sfizio kitchen scraps. The kitchen staff broke down the carcasses as we toured the innovative wine tap system. After some initial glitches with the keg coupler, all four taps should be dispensing wine and prosecco soon. For now, you won’t go wrong with the Benton Lane pinot noir, barrel-selected by Chef Maselli. The wine comes in kegs, an eco-friendly solution to the waste traditional bottles invite. 

Chef Maselli is rightfully proud of his regionally based menu. “We support local agriculture and buy from the farmer,” he says. “It translates to the plate in taste and cost.” Pasta, for example, is made with local eggs and double-zero flour milled in Eastern Oregon. 

Some of the specialties are irresistible: fettuccini with chanterelles, sweet corn, garlic, chili and grana padano ($22), grilled game hen with pears and greens ($21) and the best dessert in town, warm doughnuts with crema inglese ($8). The November menu includes an elk lasagna and a pork sugo cavatelli with local shell beans and black kale, to be followed by an apple crostata with Fernet Branca gelato.

The cocktail menu was designed by long-missed former Eugenean Jeffrey Morgenthaler, and includes some originals, the best of which is the Sfizio (Plymouth gin, Aperol, Cynar, $10).

Sfizio is without question the new anchor in the Oakway Center, and we’re delighted you voted it Best New Restaurant of 2010. 


Best restaurant

photo by trask bedortha

1. Belly 291 E. 5th Ave. 683-5896

2. Marché 296 E. 5th Ave. 342-3612.

3. Café Soriah 384 W. 13th Ave. 342-4410

Best service

1. Belly 291 E. 5th Ave. 683-5896

2. Marché 296 E. 5th Ave. 342-3612.

3. Ring of Fire 1099 Chambers St. 344-6475.

Best place to take carnivores

1. Belly 291 E. 5th Ave. 683-5896

2. Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen & Blues Joint 400 Blair Blvd. 342-7500.

3. Bates Steak House & Saloon 433 E. Broadway, 683-3108

We unabashedly, deeply love Belly. Best restaurant for the second year in a row and only two years old, it just keeps getting better. Why can’t we find other loves like you in this town? The food is heavily influenced by French country cooking, but it manages to stay fresh and new with a range of small and large plates … and, best of all, relatively cheap at under $20 an entrée.

We swoon over potted rabbit, spiced prunes and radishes ($6/$11) and take comfort in chicken and dumplings with wild mushrooms and truffle oil ($17). Another must: bacon-wrapped fresh figs with apple cider gastrique and hazelnuts ($6). And we can never get enough of the house specialty, pork confit accompanied by the fruits of the season. A carnivore’s paradise!

Chef-owner Brendan Mahaney chatted with EW over email while on a brief holiday in San Francisco. 

“We’re still learning, and there’s still plenty of opportunities to better execute our fare,” he noted, modestly. “We are working to make our restaurant sustainable, [both] to sustain having a wonderful and content staff and to work seasonally by changing the menu to reflect what is ripe.” For winter, this might mean showcasing “savory delights of winter squashes, Brussels sprouts and kale, or using tomatoes in a preserved state … helping the community enjoy the goods that are harvested locally.”

So bring it on, Belly. We hear some winter goodies will include a cassoulet and lovely braises: short ribs in Chimay, chicken fricassee with Jerusalem artichokes and lamb shank with quince in red wine. And even more deliciously, Belly hopes to open up a taqueria this year, just as soon as they can find the “right, happy spot.” 

 As winner for Best Service, as well, we know that creating a right, happy spot is important. Managed by Chef Mahaney’s fiancée, Ann Marie Bragger, who also often mixes new twists on classic cocktails behind the bar, Belly is the kind of place where you always feel at home. If you happen to have the particularly delightful waitress Rachel McCoy as your server, you’ll be treated better than family!









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