Eugene Weekly : Gift Guide 2008 : 11.26.2008


EW‘s 2008 Gift Guide (download the PDF)

Sampling the  Wares A few gems from the Holiday Market’s hundreds of booths

Doing Good and Eating Very Well

Local Pride Unique Eugene stores provide all kinds of options

Body Love Treat yourself and others this season

Handmade in Oregon


Doing Good and Eating Very Well

As the holidays roll around and the stress of emptying your wallet and running low on gift ideas fills your head, remember one thing: Everyone eats, and almost everyone loves food. And what better way to pamper someone than by getting them a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant?

Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen’s Beef Brisket plate with Mac & Cheese and Fried Okra

Treating people you love (or like) to gift certificates will fill their hearts and their bellies, and not only will you be doing something nice for them, but the restaurants will benefit too (and in this economy, we all know they will appreciate it!). Tip: Include some cash for tips along with the gift certificate, and keep bartenders and servers happy! 

We know you have a lot of options, and there are far more than we could list (check our online Chow listings for more ideas at, but we find it impossible to resist saying “Yum!” to these scrumptious cuisines:

. Agate Alley on East 19th Avenue allows you to choose any amount for a gift certificate. Manager and owner Doug Beaird and Chef Jeff Strom recommend trying the pumpkin enchiladas or the ancho ahi. Add a hot apple jack or a marionberry mint margarita to wash it all down.

. Café Maroc on East Broadway always offers gift certificates in any increments, which are also good for their neighbor restaurant Adam’s Place. General manager Jeff Passerotti recommends trying the lamb with saffron honey and almonds as well as the vegetarian artichoke tangine. The house special drink is the Purple Rose of Cairo, made with rose-infused vodka. At Adam’s Place (soon to change its name to Sustainable Table and focus on a new look and menu — more news on that soon!), Passerotti recommends the winter vegetarian trio, which includes winter pumpkin ricotta gnocchi with wild mushrooms or the chestnut ravioli with sweet potato cream.

. Café Soriah on West 13th Avenue won Best Restaurant in the EW readers’ poll this year. The restaurant offers gift certificates in any amount, and owner Ibrahim Hamide recommends the signature steak Diane dish. He says, “The seafood sauté is a favorite of mine.” The restaurant also offers a lamb ragu and suggests adding a glass of Malbec or an Oregon pinot gris with these dishes. Hamide also says that the “bar is famous for our specialty fresh squeezed juice drinks.”

. Davis’ on West Broadway offers gift certificates in any amount. Tom Kamis, one of the owners, recommends the ginger lemon tequila at the bar. Though the menu changes seasonally, chefs Kurt Kuehnast and Scott Whitus are whipping up delicious Kansas City-style baby back ribs or tiger prawns and capeillini tossed in white wine, garlic butter sauce, cherry tomatoes, spinach and crushed red chiles.

. Belly, the small restaurant that could on East 5th Avenue (where Locomotive and Penelope used to be), offers gift certificates for any amount. Owner Brendan Mahaney says the pork confit with seasonal fruits is very popular and adds that it is “a dish you probably won’t find around town.” The warm pear brandy hot toddy is a must for those crisp winter nights. “We have a really terrific affordable wine list,” including wine from France, Italy and Spain, Mahaney adds. 

. Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen on Blair Boulevard has gift certificates available in $10 increments. Debra Lee, one of the owners, recommends trying the ribs, fried fish or gumbo. Lee says that the most popular drink on the menu is the mint mojito. (Several EW staffers clamored to test both the food and the drinks for veracity, and reports all came back with favorable results.)

. Koho Bistro, on Bailey Hill Road near Churchill High School, offers gift certificates in any denomination. Manager Tim Shimmel recommends coming in to try the grilled salmon with saffron rice and veggies or the beef short ribs braised with port and cherries. Shimmel says the wasabi Bloody Mary is very popular — and the bourbon chocolate mousse from the desert menu is an obvious favorite.

. Willamette Street Bar and Grill, which used to be Savoy Truffle, offers gift certificates ranging from $10-$100. Owner Morgan Sanchez says to try the “Blue Plate Special, offered every Tuesday night for $6.95.” That’s a dish full of comfort foods, with a different item every week. Sanchez says the roasted fig appetizer with balsamic glaze and in-house baked bread is just one of the many delicious appetizers on the menu. Best drink? The Red-Headed Slut on Sunday, of course.

. Bel Ami on Willamette Street has gift cards for any amount. Two entrées that owner Brett Batterson is especially proud of are the boullibaisse, which includes clams, mussels, scallops, white fish, prawns and many other savory ingredients, and the grilled ribeye steak. He also recommends sipping on the East of Eden from the bar (bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler won the readers’ poll for Best Bartender, and his Richmond gimlet won for Best House Drink).

. La Perla on Pearl Street, winner of Best New Restaurant in this year’s readers’ poll, has gift certificates available in any value. Employee Aaron Friedman recommends the pugliese pizza and the focaccia ala Beppe and Gianni pasta dish, as well as a classic margarita to top it off.