Best of Eugene 2014-2015

Oh, Eugene. We love you, we really do. For as much as we criticize, cajole and complain, this town of ours is near and dear to our hearts. EW considers Best of Eugene a giant shout-out to our Emerald City, and this year, we’re taking it a step further by using our staff picks to highlight some examples of what we think Eugene is doing right. It isn’t a comprehensive list by any means, and we could fill pages extolling the accomplishments that Eugeneans have made this year: We banned neonicotinoids to help save the bees, opened a one-of-a-kind skatepark in the Whit and added another gem to our crown of award-winning breweries with Elk Horn Brewery, voted Best New Business and Best New Restaurant this year. The Eug life is a pretty good one, and we’re happy to present your top picks for 2014.


Best Local Hellraiser

1. Kevin Cronin

2. Lefty Kelleher

3. Alley Valkyrie

It’s not easy being a hellraiser in this town. You work hard, piss people off and generally don’t get paid, but that doesn’t seem to stop anyone. The Whiteaker’s Lefty Kelleher is a perennial bridesmaid-never-a-bride in this category, but that’s OK — he was a winner earlier this year when he took home a year’s supply of beer in the Eugene Pabst Blue Ribbon art contest. Alley Valkyrie left Eugene for Portland earlier this year, but she was in town long enough (and is still raising hell in the Eug from PDX) to make her eligible for this honor, which she won last year. Coming in as hellraiser No. 1 this year is Kevin Cronin. And just what hell does he raise? When Cronin isn’t winning the Cowfish Dance Club Freek-Nite costume dance contest, “just dressed as I usually dress,” he muses, he is the regional field director for the Democratic Party of Oregon. Cronin has also worked to union-organize Walmart employees, traveling the state to sign homecare and adult foster care workers up for Cover Oregon to get them access to health care, and he’s worked to register Eugene’s homeless population to vote. There is a ballot box at Opportunity Village, he says, and they are shooting for 85 percent turnout. Cronin is also the executive director of the nonprofit Grassroots Eugene, and for more on that, turn to our winners for Best Marijuana Dispensary.

Best Local Uproar

1. New City Hall

2. EMX

3. Whoville

Eugene’s full-block City Hall was considered a design masterpiece in the 1960s and an excellent example of mid-20th century Northwest modern architecture, but it was allowed to deteriorate in recent years as city staff dreamt of new offices in a shiny glass palace. The uproar over plans to demolish the still-solid, 50-year-old structure with its 120 covered parking spaces was fueled by a lively group of architects in the community who challenged the rationale for the destruction. Those councilors and Mayor Kitty Piercy, who supported tearing down the building, will likely be asked to defend their votes in the next election.

Best Humanitarian Nonprofit

1. FOOD for Lane County 770 Bailey Hill Rd. 343-2822.

2. St. Vincent de Paul 555 High St., 344-2115; 100 E. 11th Ave., 868-0200.

3. Womenspace 1577 Pearl St. 485-8232.

Best Enviro Organization 

1. BRING Recycling 4446 Franklin Blvd. 746-3023.

2. Cascadia Wildlands 1247 Willamette St. 434-1463.

3. McKenzie River Trust 1245 Pearl St. 345-2799.

Just as FOOD for Lane County brings home first-place honors year after year for Best Humanitarian Nonprofit, BRING Recycling is almost a sure thing for Best Enviro Organization, perhaps because BRING lets us bargain-shop to our hearts’ delight while still feeling righteous about reusing and recycling. Cascadia Wildlands, from its work to try to save the Elliott State Forest to its unending commitment to hearing the howls of wolves across the state, came in second this year and, last but not least, McKenzie River Trust is a tireless advocate for our area’s clean water and habitat for Oregon’s flora and fauna.

Best Animal Nonprofit

1. Greenhill Humane Society 88530 Green Hill Rd. 689-1503.

2. Cascades Raptor Center 32275 Fox Hollow Rd. 485-1320.

3. SARA’s Treasures 871 River Rd. 607-8892.

Working to save animals is heartbreaking as well as startlingly controversial. Some weeks the staff at Greenhill probably gets as many prickles as it does praise for its efforts to rescue and rehome Eugene’s pet population, from pitties to bunnies, but EW’s readers voted it the Best Animal Nonprofit in a landslide. 1st Avenue Shelter (formerly Lane County Animal Services), which Greenhill runs, got its fair share of votes, too. From Bark in the Park to its Art for Animals Auction (Nov. 7), Greenhill draws the public in with its events and fundraisers. Cascades Raptor Center, which is getting a lot of attention lately via local author Melissa Hart’s new book Wild Within, flaps into second place, and SARA’s Treasures (Shelter Animal Resource Alliance) raises funds through its thrift store to pull animals from shelters where they might otherwise be euthanized.


Best Place to See Art

1. Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art 1430 Johnson Ln., UO Campus. 346-3027.

2. First Friday ArtWalk

3. Hult Center/Jacob’s Gallery 1 Eugene Center. 682-5087.

She’s the classy dame that sits quietly in the midst of the chaos of the UO campus. Students may pass her by, townies seem to forget about her but the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is a brilliant gem in this Emerald City. From edgy contemporary exhibits such as Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power to a rotating collection of works by iconic artists like Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, rainy day or not, the Schnitz’ walls have important things to tell you. Not only does the museum bring in pioneering Oregon and national artists to give talks, the JSMA has pushed Eugene into the national dialogue about the arts with its Masterworks on Loan program. Go see for yourself — entry is free on First Fridays and during home games. And JSMA Director of Education Lisa Abia-Smith just nabbed the Educator of the Year award from the Oregon Art Education Assocation. Congrats all around!

Best Artist

1. (tie) Shanna Trumbly and Tracy Sydor;

2. Greg Byerly 

3. Katie Swenson

You love her, you really love her. And her too. That’s right — painter Shanna Trumbly and photographer Tracy Sydor tied for first place. Sydor took home the title last year, and Trumbly has placed several times. The most exciting aspect of this double win that you, lovely readers, voted for is that these artists each bring something entirely different to the community. Trumbly, who illustrated the 2013 and 2014 Oregon Country Fair posters, creates hyper-detailed and heart-warming oil paintings that pay tribute to local flora and fauna, which can be seen everywhere from her little studio in the Whit to the soaring walls of Sweet Cheeks Winery. Sydor, whose “Stag Queen” photo graced the cover of our 2014 ArtsHound issue, makes the political personal in carefully crafted shoots that empower women and survivors of abuse. Together, these two with tattoo artist Greg Byerly and porcelain master Katie Swenson represent a well-balanced local art diet.

Best Tattoo/Body Modification Artist

1. TC Combs

2. Splat Ter

3. Jimmy Singleton

When the shit’s done right, there’s a fine line between “tattoo artist” and “artist.” Trent “TC” Combs of Ink’d Up Tat2 says that he “got started in tattooing because of art, and I got started in art because… I don’t know. I’ve always liked having a pen in my hand.” These days, the ink that flows from Combs’ pen ranges in style from traditional rococo lettering to dynamically colored tribal patterns to religious symbolism, but he specializes in black and grey. Any way you cut it, though, you’re practically guaranteed a tat that’ll make you look in the mirror, flex and laughingly shake your head at your own sex appeal while whispering to yourself, “Sick, dude. Sick.” And, according to Ink’d Up Tat2’s Facebook page, Combs is “getting better every day” — an especially exciting prospect, since he’s already no stranger to the great honor that is EW’s best tattoo artist distinction.

Best Dancer

1. Nathan Boozer

2. (three-way tie) Eileen King/Heather Wallace/Vanessa Martin;;

3. Lindsey Shields

You like the way he moves. Last year his company Work Dance nabbed first place for best show, and this year the man himself gets the gold. Boozer studied dance at LCC, but he first caught the jitterbug at 12 while watching Michael Jackson on an MTV awards show. “My inspiration was definitely Michael Jackson,” Boozer says. “For kids of my era, it was all about him. He’s created dance moves that no one could.” Now Boozer creates choreography for Work Dance that no one else in town is doing, pulling inspiration from the King of Pop and Lady Gaga (who he’s met, twice). Next up is Mechanical Dancer in February at the Hult. “It’s about keeping the dance alive,” he says, “creating your own art and being confident.”

Best Clothing Designer

1. Laura Lee Laroux

2. Allihalla (Allison Ditson)

3. Mitra Chester 

Best Local Author

1. Bob Welch

2. Ken Kesey

3. Bill Sullivan

Best Local Theater Company

1. Oregon Contemporary Theatre 194 W. Broadway. 465-1506.

2. Actor’s Cabaret of Eugene 996 Willamette St. 683-4368.

3. Very Little Theatre 2350 Hilyard St. 344-7751.

Since moving to its new, improved location on Broadway, Oregon Contemporary Theatre has become one of the anchoring institutions in a revitalized downtown scene, providing a line-up of consistently strong, often homegrown stageworks that find a heady balance between artistic risk and entertaining accessibility. Artistic director Craig Willis is a staunch advocate of plays created here in the Northwest, and he works to keep the productions affordable for local audiences. “OCT’s mission is to produce bold entertainment that challenges expectations, inspires curiosity, encourages dialogue and supports positive change,” Willis tells EW, adding that the best way to keep theater vital in Eugene is by “bringing the best artists together to collaborate on something they feel passionate about.” Bravo, OCT.

Best Local Musician(s)

1. Sol Seed

2. Medium Troy

3. (tie) Soul Vibrator and The Sugar Beets;

We all know by now that the path into any Eugenean showgoer’s heart is to play music that’s hella good to smoke weed to, and in this, Sol Seed delivers. The sextet’s reggae fusion vibe is individualized by its cocktail of self-described hip-hop, rock, Latin, jazz, folk and funk influences. Even more than their impressively diverse musicianship, though, Sol Seed has an admirable spirit. A Sol Seed show is a feel-good experience to end all feel-good experiences, with a perfect balance of jam band grooving and sing-along opportunities. And they appear to be the first band ever to have a mission statement, clearly stated and published on their website ( “Music created with the intention of spreading unconditional love, universal acceptance and an urge to reach across social, spiritual and cultural boundaries.” Chill. And catch Sol Seed performing at Cozmic 9 pm Friday, Nov. 7.

Best Live Music Venue

1. Cuthbert Amphitheater 2300 Leo Harris Pkwy.

2. WOW Hall 291 W. 8th Ave. 687-2746.

3. Sam Bond’s 407 Blair Blvd. 431-6603.


Best DJ

1. (tie) DJ food stamp 

and DjReddfox

2. DJ Crown

3. DJ Connah J

Best Place to Sing Karaoke

1. Black Forest 50 E. 11th Ave. 686-6619.

2. Level Up 1290 Oak St. 654-5632.

3. Cornucopia 207 E. 5th Ave. 485-2676.

The quickest way to both gain and lose someone’s heart is available two nights a week at Black Forest’s karaoke nights. A two-time winner, Black Forest provides the necessary cocktails and instrumental version of hit songs, allowing Eugeneans to unleash their inner Monday blues — often and unapologetically in the form of Radiohead or Springsteen. To help loosen those vocals cords and inhibitions, Black Forest offers $2.50 wells on Mondays and a “liquor for the price of a well” deal on Wednesdays. Start dreaming of stage dives.

Best Open Jam/Open Mic Night

1. Sam Bond’s 407 Blair Blvd. 431-6603.

2. Cozmic 199 W. 8th Ave. 338-9333.

3. Hot Mama’s Wings 420 W. 13th Ave. 653-9999.

Best Bar

1. Sam Bond’s 407 Blair Blvd. 431-6603.

2. Horsehead 99 W. Broadway. 683-3154.

3. Cowfish 62 W. Broadway. 683-6319.

Of course Sam Bond’s, with its unique mix of eccentricity and comfort, would win two Best of Eugene awards. Whether it’s bingo night, a slice of roasted garlic pizza or the Tuesday night open Bluegrass jam session, Eugene’s communal garage is further proof that this is in fact where the best music starts — some of the finest bluegrass pickin’ in town happens on the cozy stage.  “I think we are constantly trying to evolve and keep things fresh,” says Todd Davis, one of the bar’s owners, “but at the same time do the things we’ve been doing for 19 years that have helped us be so successful.”

Best Bar Grub

1. Horsehead 99 W. Broadway. 683-3154.

2. Jackalope 453 Willamette St. 485-1519.

3. Cornucopia 295 W. 17th Ave., 485-2300; 207 E. 5th St., 485-2300.

Mmm, bacon cheese fries and nachos. Need we say more?


Best Local Wine

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

2. King Estate Winery 80854 Territorial Hwy. 942-9874.

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

Best Brewery and Best Local Beer

1. Ninkasi 272 Van Buren St. 344-2739.

2. Oakshire 207 Madison St. 688-4555.

3. Hop Valley 980 Kruse Way, Spfd. 744-3330; 990 W. 1st Ave. 585-2337.

With all the breweries in town, it’s easy to get your fill of local craft beer. The stuff is everywhere: for sale in the grocery store, at local restaurants or on tap in bars. Ninkasi, however, consistently out-brews the other breweries, and maybe it’s because of all its creative efforts to engage the community. “We believe in flavorful, balanced beers, and building relationships wherever we distribute Ninkasi,” says CEO and co-founder Nikos Ridge. Whether it is brewing up a new beer to commemorate LCC’s 50th anniversary, putting on a Halloween party or having great outdoor seating at its tasting room, Ninkasi always seems to be trying something new.

Best Beers on Tap

1. Bier Stein 1591 Willamette St. 485-2437.

2. Ninkasi 272 Van Buren St. 344-2739.

3. Falling Sky 1334 Oak Alley. 505-7096.

Best Cocktails

1. Izakaya Meiji 345 Van Buren St. 505-8804.

2. The Vintage 837 Lincoln St. 349-9181.

3. (tie) The Davis and Rye 94 W. Broadway, 485-1124,; 444 E. 3rd Ave., 653-8509,

Known for its wall of whiskeys and a laid-back atmosphere, Izakaya Meiji on Van Buren in the Whiteaker is one-of-a-kind in Eugene. The location is a perfect spot for a few after-work drinks, the most popular of which include the bourbon and ginger and the Meiji Mule (vodka, lime juice and black peppered ginger syrup and Shōchū). Dinner usually has a more “all-ages” crowd, but after 10 pm it starts to feel like a bar. And if you come Sunday, $12 will get you a burger, brew and a shot of bourbon. “This is the best Manhattan that I’ve had in my life,” says general manager Chad Kushuba. Don’t miss out on Meiji’s old fashioned, which is made two different ways: one, contemporary, with muddled wedges of lemon and orange, and the other has no fruit and just zest. New items include variations on a hot toddy, hot ciders and rye-and-ciders.

Best Happy Hour/Drink Specials

1. Starlight Lounge 830 Olive St. 343-3204.

2. Izumi Sushi & Grill 2773 Shadow View Dr. 683-1201.

3. The Vintage 837 Lincoln St. 349-9181.

Best Place to Daydrink

1. Horsehead 99 W. Broadway. 683-3154.

2. Falling Sky 1334 Oak Alley. 505-7096.

3. Bier Stein 1591 Willamette St. 485-2437.

Best DUI Lawyer

1. Mike Arnold 401 E. 10 Ave., Ste. 400. 203-4163.

2. Max Mizejewski 800 Willamette St., Ste. 700. 505-9872.

3. Jesse Lohrke 795 W 7th Ave. 357-6788.

EW raised some hackles when we included the Best DUI Lawyer category this year. Calm down people, we weren’t promoting drunk driving. We were pointing out that drinking categories are among our most popular and if you are going to drink, you need to be safe and legal. Enter Mike Arnold of Arnold Law, who says his DUI practice is about due process, government accountability and examining evidence. “Ninety percent of my job is sticking up for the little guy against the big guy, the citizen against his government,” Arnold says. He is vehemently in favor of using blood rather than a breathalyzer to more scientifically determine a driver’s sobriety. “The only competent way to determine blood alcohol level is drawing the blood and then testing it,” he says, pointing out that even a urine test only shows a history of use, not whether it is still in the system. Defending alleged drunk drivers in court, however, is not a defense of drunk driving. “Driving is a serious business,” Arnold says. “.01 or .08, if you are negatively affected, get off the road.”


Best Bakery

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

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

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

Sweet Life can trace its sugary legacy back to a pair of sisters and a trip to Europe. “We took something very Old World and combined it with a very Eugene flavor,” says Catherine Reinhart, co-owner, along with her sister, Cheryl, of Sweet Life. The result is the Sweet Life we know today: handmade artisan-style pastries and desserts, combined with fresh ingredients and an awareness of alternative diets. With display cases full of creatively crafted desserts, it’s hard to say what is most popular, though the dessert of the month, made with seasonally available ingredients, is what seems to disappear quickest. “The dessert of the month satisfies that craving for something new,” Catherine Reinhart says. Sweet Life, however, is nothing new for most people in Eugene: It has been the undisputed Best of Eugene winner for sweets for more than 10 years.

Best Desserts

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

2. Noisette Pastry Kitchen 200 W. Broadway. 654-5257.

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

Best Barbecue

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

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

3. Ken’s BBQ King 1810 Willamette St. 915-3252.

The South may be a “far piece” from Oregon, but that doesn’t stop Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen. They have been serving Southern-style cuisine to Eugene since 2000, and people keep coming back for seconds. Papa’s has all the classics: catfish, fried chicken, barbecue and more. Then there are the sides, like hushpuppies and collard greens. “We make everything from scratch,” owner Deb Lee says, and that extra effort shows, for the bold and unique flavors at Papa’s aren’t easy to find in Eugene.  And there is, in fact, a secret sauce. Lee calls the restaurant’s barbecue sauce a “well-guarded family recipe” and admits there are “only two of us here who know how to make the sauce,” though she let slip that it’s a Kansas City-style sauce. The real secret at Papa’s, however, is already out: It makes some damn good food.

Best Hangover Breakfast

1. Brails 1689 Willamette St. 343-1542.

2. Glenwood Restaurant 1340 Alder St. 687-0355; 2588 Willamette St. 687-8201.

3. Studio One Café 1473 E. 19th Ave. 342-8596.

Best Hangover Breakfast is a tough category because, well, nothing seems good when you have a hangover. Brails, however, has come out on top again, serving a variety of breakfast classics that are delicious, even for those who may have refrained from moderation the night before. With large plates of crisp hash browns, fluffy pancakes and cups of coffee that never hit bottom, Brails makes a satisfying breakfast. The menu covers all the breakfast basics, along with a few special dishes like the aptly named Hangover Special. On Sunday mornings, when people line up in the parking lot waiting for a table, the staff is well-organized and courteous, making sure customers get their food and get on with their day. Even headache victims can agree that Brails does it just right.

Best Burger

1. Cornucopia 295 W. 17th Ave., 485-2300; 207 E. 5th St., 485-2300.

2. Dickie Jo’s 1079 Valley River Way. 868-1271.

3. Little Big Burger 1404 Orchard St. 357-4771.

Best Coffee

1. Dutch Bros. 1633 Coburg Rd.; 2115 Franklin Blvd.; 311 E. 11th Ave.

2. Wandering Goat 268 Madison St. 344-5161.

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

Best Food Cart

1. Sammitch

2. Delacata

3. Da Nang Vietnamese Eatery

All hail the Sammitch. With splashy rainbow colors and a whimsical attitude, the Sammitch trucks are instantly recognizable all across town, not just for the great grub but also for a quirky delivery style that’s just about perfect for Eugene. “Off the wall isn’t exactly right because there’s already an Off the Waffle,” Sammitch owner KC Brooks jokes as he tries to describe the appeal of his food cart. “One of my favorite quotes from a business I admire, Dogfish Ales, is that it’s ‘off-centered ales for off-centered people.’ I have a really strange way of delivering food, and it’s capturing the imagination of a lot of people.” Brooks says that the design on his first food truck was drawn by one of his friends, Harlequin, when she was 16. He bought her design when she was 21, but he says he loves the youthful feel of the artwork. “It’s so awesome and pure, no subliminal messages, just drawn because she thought it was pretty,” he says. Brooks is implementing a “Sammitch of the Month” program, so be on the lookout for the Thanksgiving-friendly “Turkey Gobbler,” with ground turkey, dried cranberries and Stove Top stuffing.

Best Italian

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

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

3. Noli Italian Café 769 Monroe St. 844-1663.

Best Indian

1. Evergreen 1525 Franklin Blvd. 343-7944.

2. Taste of India 2495 Hilyard St. 485-9698.

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

Best Mexican

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

2. Tacovore 530 Blair Blvd. 735-3518.

3. Belly Taqueria 454 Willamette St. 687-8226.

Three cheers for Chapala! A wellspring of amazing Mexican food for 20 years, Chapala is always trying something new. “We’re adding a bit more spice to some recipes now,” says Erin Pelayo, owner of Chapala. “We also recently came out with some low-calorie dishes that are going gangbuster, like our chicken lime cilantro salad.” Pelayo says it’s important to her that Chapala gives back to the community, so the restaurant donates to local school districts as well as supporting projects at the Maude Kerns Art Center. Looking forward, Pelayo says Chapala plans to offer delivery starting next year, and she’s working to expand the restaurant’s catering business. “As a restaurant, you have to keep changing,” she says. “That’s why we continue to grow and reach out to our customers.”

Best Thai

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

2. Sabai 27 Oakway Center. 654-5424.

3. Sweet Basil 941 Pearl St. 284-2944.

Best Sushi

1. Mame 541 Blair Blvd. 654-4378.

2. Sushi Domo 1020 Green Acres Rd., 343-0935; 2835 Oak St., 484-7008.

3. PURE 296 E. 5th Ave. 654-0608.

Mame is the Whit’s sushi joint, and head chef Taro Kobayashi and crew whip up delicious delicacies like bacon-wrapped scallops and hamachi sushi. Just make sure to call ahead, because Mame is tiny and the seats fill up fast!

Best Korean

1. Noodle Bowl 860 Pearl St. 686-1114.

2. Chingu 1466 W. 7th Ave. 687-6424.

3. Cafe Seoul 1930 Franklin Blvd. 687-2122.

Traditional Korean cuisine emphasizes harmony, a principle readily apparent at Noodle Bowl.  Sweet and spicy, meat and vegetables, traditional and modern, all come together in a unique blend at this downtown restaurant. Owner Sue Lee and her son Jae Lee work together to serve these delicious and harmonious Korean meals. “I have really strong pride in traditional Korean cuisine,” Jae Lee says. That pride is evident in the house-made kimchi, mild in flavor with a slightly spicy kick, or the bulgogi, served while the marinated beef is still sizzling. Bibimbap is their most popular dish, and each side dish has a unique but complementary taste. “People here really like the food,” Jae Lee says. “When I see that, it really makes me happy.”

Best Pizza

1. Mezza Luna 933 Pearl St. 684-8900; 2776 Shadow View Dr., 743-2999.

2. Sizzle Pie 910 Willamette St. 683-7437.

3. Pegasus 2864 Willamette St., 344-9931; 790 E. 14th Ave., 344-4471; 4 Oakway Center, 344-0844.

Best Vegetarian or Vegan Food

1. Cornbread Café 1290 W. 7th Ave. 505-9175.

2. Laughing Planet 760 Blair Blvd., 868-0668; 2864 Willamette St., 505-5399.

3. Morning Glory Café 450 Willamette St. 687-0709.

When it comes to Cornbread Café, we’re not even talking about the best vegan food in Eugene. Nope, this joint has got to be one of the best places (and one of the most unique!) to get Southern-inspired comfort food in the entire country, using 90 percent organic ingredients. Just ask Guy Fieri and the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives team: Cornbread Café will be the first ever vegan restaurant featured on the famous Food Network show. The episode features a Cornbread signature: the Eugenewich, a vegan variation of Carl’s Jr.’s Western Bacon Cheeseburger. Ingredients include a southern-fried Surata tofu patty topped with melted Daiya cheddar, deep-fried carrot slices and hand-breaded onion rings. “I made it my goal to be on that show,” says owner Sheree Walters. “It was a very surreal experience.” Situated in an old diner on 7th and Polk that was built in the 1940s, Walters says that Cornbread Café has been a natural fit for Eugene since first opening its doors.

Best Comfort Food

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

2. Cornbread Café 1290 W. 7th Ave. 505-9175.

3. Turtle’s 2690 Willamette St. 465-9038.

Best Cheap Eats

1. Burrito Boy 2511 W. 11th Ave., 338-4219; 510 E. Broadway, 344-8070; 943 River Rd., 689-7970; 30 W. 10th Ave., 344-5856; 1071 Valley River Dr., 343-8089.

2. Laughing Planet 760 Blair Blvd., 868-0668; 2864 Willamette St., 505-5399.

3. Café Yumm! 730 E. Broadway, 344-9866; 1801 Willamette St., 686-9866; 130 Oakway Center; 465-9866.

Best Place to Eat with Kids

1. Laughing Planet 760 Blair Blvd., 868-0668; 2864 Willamette St., 505-5399.

2. Papa’s Pizza 1700 W. 11th Ave., 485-5555; 1577 Coburg Rd., 686-2240.

3. Turtle’s 2690 Willamette St. 465-9038.

Best New Restaurant

1. Elk Horn Brewery 686 E. Broadway St. 505-8356. 

2. Tacovore 530 Blair Blvd. 735-3518.

3. Grit 1080 W. 3rd Ave. 343-0501.

You may recognize Elk Horn Brewery as that place on Franklin Boulevard where Carl’s Jr. used to be. But once you’ve been inside, you’ll begin to form new memories: ciders, brews and delicious Southern food with a Northwest twist. Elk Horn is a continuation of owners Stephen and Colleen Sheehan’s former Delacata food truck, which opened in 2010 with a similar menu. The food truck didn’t use elk, but the most popular item at the new location is the elk burger, made with fresh, local ground-elk steak. Other signature items include a smoked tri-trip burrito and a polenta cake with duck bacon and Cajun hollandaise. Elk Horn offers live music every weekend, and the building is made from entirely recycled building material. “It’s been an overwhelming response,” says Stephen Sheehan, who increased his staff from 24 to 62 within two weeks of operation. “To be putting that many people to work in the community — we feel really blessed.”

Best Restaurant

1. Belly 30 E. Broadway. 683-5896.

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

3. Marché 296 E. 5th Ave. #226. 342-3612.

Will someone please give Brendan Mahaney a key to the city, already? As founder and executive chef of Belly, Mahaney has become a Eugene institution, serving up a creative but consistent, amazing but affordable blend of American and European rustic farmhouse cuisine with a distinctly Southern soul twist. Belly’s offerings — from the pork confit to the bacon-wrapped, manchego-stuffed dates to the oxtail and shitake empanadas — walk that delectable line between gastronomic adventure and foodie comfort. And despite the restaurant’s success, Mahaney is not one to rest on his laurels; he relocated a couple years back to bigger digs downtown, turned the original 5th Street location into a taqueria, then had to move Taco Belly to a bigger space. That closed and he moved Belly Taqueria to Willamette Street, with Belly taking up residence on Broadway. “It’s a great big canvas,” Mahaney says of the restaurant’s menu. “Every week there’s something that’s added or tweaked. There’s a nice organic feel to that. It’s evolved.”


Best Local Grocery Store

1. Market of Choice 1060 Green Acres Rd., 344-1901; 1960 Franklin Blvd., 687-1188; 67 W. 29th Ave., 338-8455; 2580 Willakenzie Rd., 345-3349.

2. The Kiva 125 W. 11th Ave. 342-8666.

3. Capella Market 2489 Willamette St. 345-1014.

One thing’s for sure: Market of Choice has choices. A bakery, beer and wine selection, restaurant-style salad bar and a large selection of organic and conventional produce — all this and more can be found at any one of the four Eugene locations. One of the most popular features of the store is the public seating area, which always seems to be filled. In recent years the store has expanded into other parts of the state, but local products are still for sale on the shelves. The store also has a green reputation. In 2008, Market of Choice eliminated the use of plastic grocery bags at its stores, and it separates compostable waste from the rest of its trash in order to more efficiently dispose of garbage. And the store on Willamette has solar panels on its roof, selling the extra energy back to EWEB.

Best Marijuana Dispensary

1. Twenty After Four 420 Blair Blvd. 393-6524.

2. Oregon Microgrowers Guild 1395 Cross St. ​246-8972.

3. Next Level 145 E 29th Ave. 515-6514.

Twenty After Four recently opened up in the Whit, conveniently located near Sam Bond’s and Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen, and even more conveniently it uses the address 420 Blair Blvd. (technically the building says 440, but who’s counting?). Manager Kevin Cronin says the original plan was to run Twenty After Four as a nonprofit and use it to fund projects such as Opportunity Village, but winding their way through the government process took more time and money than anticipated. Cronin previously co-founded the nonprofit Grassroots Eugene with Casey Houlihan, and Cronin says once the start up capital is paid back for Twenty After Four, he and Houlihan plan to donate their profits to grassroots organizing. Cronin points out that Twenty After Four is also conveniently located near the Community Alliance of Lane County, just the type of social justice work he seeks to support.

Best Indie Bookstore

1. Smith Family Bookstore 525 Willamette St., 343-4717; 768 E. 13th Ave., 345-1651.

2. Tsunami Books 2585 Willamette St. 345-8986. 

3. J. Michaels Books 160 E. Broadway. 342-2002. 

Smith Family Book Store has become an undeniable staple of the Eugene book-loving community. The business, which is family-owned and operated, has been selling and buying books for roughly 30 years. The comfortable clutter of the store is immediately compensated for by a large, engaging collection of books, ranging from textbooks to more than 500 sections and subsections. And don’t worry: It’s all labeled and organized alphabetically. Smith offers reasonable prices, and philosophically, the store epitomizes the open-minded Eugene community.

Best local clothing store 

1. Redoux Parlour 780 Blair Blvd. 342-1942.

2. Buffalo Exchange 131 E. 5th Ave. 687-2805.

3. St. Vincent de Paul’s 555 High St., 344-2115; 100 E. 11th Ave., 868-0200.

Eugene’s college students praise the city for finally getting an H&M — but local fashion junkies know all about this clothing haven. The shop features clothing from homegrown Redoux designers, alterations, sewing classes and resale clothing, as well as local art and local designers’ clothing, accessories and jewelry. “Part of our vision for it is to be a community hub for people to enjoy a unique shopping experience and be challenged and inspired by issues of social consciousness,” says Briah Izreal, one of the parlor’s owners. In true Eugene fashion, the best clothing store requires both style and sustainability.

Best secondhand shop

1. St. Vincent de Paul’s 555 High St., 344-2115; 100 E. 11th Ave., 868-0200.

2. Buffalo Exchange 131 E. 5th Ave. 687-2805.

3. Goodwill 435 E. Broadway, 344-1029; 855 Seneca Rd., 984-8812.

Best Pet Stuff Store

1. Mini Pet Mart 2636 Willamette St., 345-3399; 1875 W. 11th Ave., 687-6410; 974 W. 6th Ave., 344-9603.

2. The Healthy Pet 2777 Friendly St. 343-3411.

3. Wags! Dog Emporium 485 Coburg Rd., 338-8801.

Best Veterinarian 

1. Amazon Park Animal Clinic 725 E. 25th Ave. 485-0161.

2. Bush Animal Hospital 2415 Oakmont Way. 246-7025.

3. (tie) Edgewood Animal Clinic and Cat Care Ltd. 4010 Donald St., 341-6558,; 1400 Willamette St., 302-5824,

Since 2001, Amazon Park Animal Clinic has helped to make all the furry members of your family feel better. Dr. Cary Heyward, Dr. Cameron Jones and Dr. Barbara Maki treat cats, dogs, rabbits and pocket pets (hamsters, gerbils, etc.), dealing with everything from puppy vaccines to surgery. Clinic manager Linda Ohlhausen says that pets and their parents love Amazon Park because of the welcoming atmosphere. “Our doctors are really friendly,” she says. And for terrified pups and stressed-out cats, calm and happy doctors are sure to make a trip to the vet’s office a not-so-scary thing.

Best place to get fit

1. YMCA 2055 Patterson St. 686-9622.

2. Oakway Fitness 170 Oakway Rd. 343-3314.

3. International Fitness 4540 Commerce St., 343-1955; 1009 Green Acres Rd., 484-0970; 215 Q St., Spfd., 746-3533.

The Y is looking for a new home, but its original location still remains the people’s choice for exercise. And let’s face it, the Y’s pretty hard to beat. With its super friendly staff, abundance of cardio machines and overall feeling of community throughout the old yet familiar building, the Y is a great place to take a swim or beef up those muscles.

Best bike store

1. Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life 556 Charnelton St., 344-4105; 2480 Alder St., 342-6155.

2. Arriving by Bike 2705 Willamette St. 484-5410.

3. Collin’s Cycle Shop 60 E. 11th Ave., 342-4878.

Paul Nicholson’s Eugene bike shops have been with us for three decades, truly promoting bicycling as a way of life and employing an exceptionally savvy staff. Nicholson and his crew are dedicated to advocating for alternative transportation year-round. As a feisty city councilor, Nicholson was one of the strongest advocates for cycling the city has ever had. He still keeps up with local politics and advocates with passion. He had three bike shops, but is down to two now — one downtown on Charnelton, the other closer to campus at 25th and Alder.

Best salon

1. Gervais 248 E. 5th Ave. #18. 334-6533.

2. Moss 233 W. 7th Ave. 636-0055.

3. London Hair Salon 770 Willamette St., 686-1692; 460 Valley River Center, 485-1653.

Best alternative health care provider

1. Acupuncture for the People 2833 Willamette St.

2. Eugene Wellness Center 1551 Oak St. 344-8912.

3. A Healing Space 171 Lawrence St., 343-1887.

The people of Eugene love their alternative health care, and they particularly love the affordable treatment provided by Acupuncture for the People. “Acupuncture started as a folk medicine, available to everyone in the community,” says Rob Singer, owner of Acupuncture for the People. “If you want to get it and can’t afford it, it’s not going to help anyone, so by making acupuncture affordable, we make it accessible.” Singer says the clinic does about 1,000 treatments a month, and patients report that acupuncture provides stress relief. “A lot of the gratitude we get comes from helping people get a better quality of life,” Singer says.

Best glass/smoke shop

1. Midtown Direct 133 E. 13th Ave. 345-3337.

2. Hunky Dory 271 W. 7th Ave. 345-1853. 

3. Cornerstone Glass 1068 W. 2nd Ave., 341-1788; 446 E. 13th Ave., 844-1585.

Midtown Direct Smoke Shop nabs first place again, making that two years in a row. In a town brimming with glassblowers and smoke shops, why Midtown? “It’s customer service,” owner Rich Johnson says. “There’s some contagious positive energy that seems to vortex here. There are literally 10 couples that have spawned out of Midtown.” They also like to keep it local. “We sell about 85 percent local glass,” employee Matt DeBellis adds. “Almost everything in the cases is made here in Eugene. We don’t carry any Chinese glass.” Midtown has come along way since its tough beginnings in 2003. “I opened the doors here a couple days after the federal bust, Johnson says. “I swung the doors back open, the community came back in and was like, ‘This is bullshit.’”

Best new business

1. Elk Horn Brewery 686 E. Broadway St. 505-8356. 

2. Custom Cranium 1331 Willamette St. 525-9037.

3. Twenty After Four 136 S. 6th St., Spfd. 515-6004.


Best alternative sports team

1. Emerald City Roller Girls

2. Schneckengruven Relay Team

3. Eugene Reign Rugby

Best local newscaster

1. Matt Templeman

2. (tie) Justin Stapleton and Al Peterson

3. Chenue Her

Best annual event

1. Oregon Country Fair

2. Whiteaker Block Party

3. Eugene Celebration (even though it was canceled)

There’s really no contest here: For three days every July, a big chunk of land in rural Veneta is transformed — seemingly by magic, but in reality through the hard work of hundreds of volunteers — into a hermetic, self-sustaining world that is less latter-day hippie village than alternate gonzo reality where time slows and freakdom flows. Though crusty old-timers are fond of griping that the Fair over the years has gone straight (i.e. too commercial, not druggy enough), OCF, heading now into its 46th year, remains a kaleidoscopic trip through the looking glass, where artisans, puppeteers, musicians, stilt-walkers, peripatetic poets, perpetual paraders, foodies, nudies and all manner of endeavoring free spirits are unleashed on the tens of thousands of fairgoers who wander those long forested trails in search of cultural catharsis.

Best Lane County vacation spot

1. Florence/the coast

2. McKenzie River

3. Waldo Lake

One big reason Eugene is such a great place to live is its proximity to the Oregon Coast. Just an hour away is Florence with its marvelous, not-too-touristy Old Town on the river, great for wandering around and sight-smelling. Kids love climbing the sand dunes south of town and swimming and fishing in Cleawox Lake. Need grit for your garden or sand box? Just shake out your underwear after a trip to the dunes. North of Florence is a dramatic coastline that draws photographers and nature lovers from around the world, regardless of the season. Why live anywhere else?

Best place to take your kids

1. Florence/the coast

2. Skinner Butte Park

3. Amazon Park & Pool

Best thing that could happen to Eugene

1. New mayor/City Council

2. More help for the unhoused

3. Downtown growth

Best thing about Eugene Weekly

1. It’s free

2. The calendar section

3. Dan Savage

Worst thing about Eugene Weekly

1. Liberal bias

2. Not big enough/only comes out once a week

3. Too many ads

Best category we didn’t have and who would win:

Best voter suggestions:

Best interactive art: #instaballet

Best cookie baker: Rob Reynolds

Best hiking trail: not telling, but I want other people to give up the goods

Best neighborhood: the Whiteaker

Best power couple: Liliana Darwin Lopez and Tomo Tsurumi

Best show/concert: Work Dance Co. Animal Instinct

Best soup: Wholesome Café

Best children’s theater: Upstart Crow Studios

Best thing Eugene did this year: banning neonicotinoids

Best of the Best:

Best thing that could happen to Eugene

Everyone gets superpowers and becomes invincible (not immortal so we still die of old age because who wants to live forEVER?) and then dinosaurs come back to life and we each get one to ride off into the sunset

Everyone stops caring about Duck football

Horrid new apartments between 11th and 13th on Willamette collapse, harming no one

Jay Bozo gets thrown out of town

Christ-centered revival

It would become the capital of Cascadia

Best thing about Eugene Weekly

Good for my guinea pig’s cage

Humor that nobody gets

It is not The Register-Guard

It’s Eugene’s best attempt at a cultural publication

Printed faces are good for portrait drawing practice

Provides the best representation of just how truly raw and weird this place is

Willingness to print all kinds of crazy reader letters

Worst thing about Eugene Weekly

Too much barbecue focus. I don’t care about Hot Mama’s Wings

Ink rubs off on your hands

News. You guys are like Fox News except on the other side of the spectrum

Not enough porn

Features that seem to repeat year after year… how many times do we really need to read about the SLUG competition?

Only represents a very small, somewhat incestuous segment of the Eugene population

Gives me too many choices on what to do on weekends

One of your contributors used to live at my address and I get bill collectors looking for him all the time

Staff Picks

Best Place for Second Chances

Opportunity Village Eugene is micro-housing for more than 60 previously unhoused people that seeks to transition them to a more permanent situation. The project is a collaboration between community members lucky enough to be housed and those who need a home and shelter, consisting of 25 tiny dwellings clustered around a communal yurt. OVE seeks to make “positive changes in attitudes, policies and practices that harm the unhoused.” The site is governed by its own residents, has an onsite program connecting residents with skill-based jobs and it grew out the 2011 Occupy movement when the unhoused and the housed came together and camped in a muddy park by the freeway entrance. That muddy park has blossomed into an example of innovation and cooperation for other cities around the country.

Best no-cost Medical Care

Every Sunday at noon at the downtown Eugene Park Blocks (8th and Oak), rain or shine, you will see Occupy Medical’s red-and-black bus surrounded by those in need of medical care, and community members are there to provide medical skills, hair cuts, food and support to anyone who needs it. Occupy Medical came to being at the Occupy Eugene camp as the medics there realized the unhoused needed more than first aid. From the beginning, OM hasn’t just treated wounds; it has saved lives and soothed souls.  The all-volunteer team operates on the principle that “healthcare is a basic human right that must be made accessible to everyone,” and Eugene is better for it.

Best Thing on Four Wheels

Life on the gritty streets of Eugene can prove nasty, brutish and unforgiving, especially for those among us dealing with addiction and/or mental health issues, which makes the rolling help provided by CAHOOTS not just laudably humane but, in this age of underfunded services and interventionist slouch, totally necessary. Short for Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets, CAHOOTS is a mobile crisis team run by White Bird Clinic and linked in with the city’s public safety system that roves our streets like some latter-day A-team of superheroes, ready to assist in non-criminal emergencies ranging from intoxication and overdose to street disputes and psychotic breaks. Need a ride to Buckley for a spell of detox? Hearing voices again? Not sure where you are? Hop into the big white van with the helping hands.

Best Community Support System for Girls

Growing up can be both an exciting and confusing thing, especially for girls, who face a barrage of media criticism, perfectionist ideals and an over-emphasis on their bodies instead of their minds. Fostering a sense of community and support can help, and that’s exactly what Ophelia’s Place does, by creating a safe place for girls to meet, work together and share experiences. This can mean anything from art classes, like Anime Club, to the Women’s Advisory Council for Youth, which helps girls develop leadership skills by advising Ophelia’s Place on “creative ways to make a difference,” according to OP’s website.  Even better, OP offers affordable, sliding-scale payments, and many of its classes are free.

Best Teenage Anti-Wasteland

Every once in a while, city government does its job and does it remarkably well. Such is the case with the recently opened WJ Skatepark — the largest such skatepark, covered and lighted, in the nation. Dreamed up by a group of skaters who petitioned the city for a new park, and a decade in the making, this $2.5-million carnival of concrete is a shredder’s wet dream, offering features like a drop pool, iconic ribbon and mini snake run, along with oodles of rolling plains and steep terrain that accommodate everyone from beginners to pros. At 23,000 square feet and open to the public from 6 am to 1 am, this is the sort of public works project that restores one’s faith in bureaucracy and the power of the people to petition the government for a redress of teenage grievances. Way to be, Eugene.

Best Friend of Extracurriculars in 4J Schools;

The Eugene Education Foundation (EEF) helps 4J schools and students achieve what might otherwise be impossible. It accomplishes this by providing grant money for projects that are not attainable through regular sources of funding, such as state and bond money. In the 2013-2014 school year, EEF funded projects that found transportation for homeless students, assisted the School Garden Project at Adams Elementary School and put thousands of dollars toward bolstering music education throughout the district. The Bethel Education Foundation serves a similar purpose, and last year, it contributed $19,919 worth of grants to projects in the Bethel School District.

Best Free Art Experience

The Eugene-Springfield area is one of the best hubs in the PNW to see public art, specifically murals. We’re no Berlin or NYC, but look around! The per capita density for art is high — chances are you’re within a block or two of a great mural as you read this. Who hasn’t gotten lost in thought staring at Jim Evangelista’s black-and-white solitary street scene at 12th and High? Or catalogued activist artist Kari Johnson’s numerous bright narrative tableaus around town? Or stared into Buster Keaton’s eyes at Cottage Grove’s mural of The General? If we weren’t already, the unveiling of The Simpsons mural in Springfield officially put us on the map as a destination for street art. Kudos to Lane Arts Council for taking note and hosting mural bike tours in 2013, 2014 and, hopefully, 2015. If our walls could talk, they’d say “More art, please!”

Best Rehabbed Raptor Wonderland

With golden eyes and stunning white feathers, Archimedes the snowy owl is something of a celebrity at the Cascades Raptor Center, where injured birds get TLC and another shot at the skies. Tucked away in South Eugene right off Fox Hollow Road, the raptor center operates with a host of volunteers, a few staff members and executive director Louise Shimmel. These hard-working bird lovers give visitors a chance to see stunning birds of prey, all rehabilitated raptors that cannot be released into the wild due to injury or over-familiarization with humans. The raptor center also rehabilitates and releases all birds that are ready to take to the wild. It’s amazing to have a resource like this here in Eugene, one that both helps birds survive and helps people understand just how important and beautiful these raptors are.

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