I’ll echo bill’s comments about the Southern Oregon wineries; while the Willamette Valley between Eugene and Portland gets all the press (for exceptional Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris), the Southern OR vineyards turn out some really impressive wines, especially varietals that thrive on hot summer days. Foris is an especially interesting winery – they make a Port-like wine out of Pinot Noir that is very interesting.
I’d suggest that the wineries around Roseburg can also be interesting (I seem to think the Umpqua Valley has received an AVA designation) – lots of interesting stuff being made, including a winery from the brother of Switzerland’s famous chef, Fredy Giradet.
Thai Pepper used to be one of my favorite Ashland restaurants – it’s been years since I was there, so I can’t have a recent, trustable opinion, but it was always at the top of my list for pre-theatre dining.
although I’m biased, (I live here), I would invite you to include the rogue valley in your trip. If you leave crater lake by the west entrance and head south on Hwy 62, it’s an easy trip to Ashland. At Fort Klamath,take Dead Indian Road and it will bring you right into ashland. ashland is a eater’s wonderland with 100 restaurants in a town of 20000. Shakespeare is a big draw, ask at the box office for 1/2 price tickets. 11 other theatres. Thai Pepper, Alex’s, Black Sheep, Omar’s, morning glory, peerless, Tabu, Pilaf, and Pangea are just a few of the exceptional eateries just in Ashland. Talent has one of the best restaurants in America, New Sammy’s cowboy bistro+ the arbor House and bangkok’s benny thai. Jacksonville and Medford have several places each worth checking out. Now as far as wine, we are the hidden gem of Oregon. We have valley view, bridgeview, Weisinger’s, paschal’s, foris and others
http://www.ashlanddirectory.net/restaurants/. I definitely agree about going 199 to the redwoods, and up 101. If that’s not possible, I would do 126 from eugene to florence, then be sure to stop in yachats, (my favorite place) and newport. Don’t forget to include astoria. Astoria is a wonderous place, and worth a stop. Do the column. Oh, and drive the rim at crater lake and take the boat ride. It gives a whole new perspective.
Thanks for the rant-as fine a statement on the "slow food" movement as I’ve read—Rant On!!!!!
When in Bend, if you d like to sample some of the areas great brew, try the Deschuttes Brewery Pub. The Food is better than average brewpub fare mighty tasty Reubens for instance and outstanding fries. It s usually very busy so be prepared to wait for a table. Try a pitcher of Mirror Pond Pale Ale while you wait or if your like a heartier punch, the Black Butte Porter or Obsidian Stout are some of the most flavorful beers I ve had.
Deschutes Brewery and Public House
901 SW Simpson Avenue
Bend, OR 97702
Heading through the Gorge, if you find yourself in The Dalles at lunch or dinnertime, I highly recommend the Baldwin Saloon downtown at 205 Court St. I especially recommend the fresh seafood (salmon, halibut). The wonderful old bar and authentic saloon oil paintings make this a great dining experience.
Oh dear god, I finally cleared my schedule enough for dinner at Reo’s (actually, I got an obscene quantity of takeout, hit Target for a cooler to pack it in, and high-tailed it to the beach). What a revelation. Although I was only moderately impressed by the beef ribs (Czaba’s on Lombard in North Portland has this really unusual sauce with elements of apricot and orange, which sounds heretical, but really sets off the smoke), I was Completely Blown Away by the brisket. It is nearly the equal of the TX Hill Country’s finest. The sides were also ambrosial. The pork ribs and chicken were also excellent; the best I’ve had in the Pacific Northwest, by far. For those who didn’t read the review yet, it’s at 175th and TV Highway in "Aloha", an unincorporated area of Washington County between Beaverton and Hillsboro. This is the place in the reviews that is most worthy of a detour of any of the places in Oregon; I cannot repeat how good this BBQ is.
I feel compelled to comment about Chives. I’ve known Chives since 1997-98, when they were in Brookings. I’ve had great meals there, and I’ve nearly walked out. The service is at best adequate, and sometimes descends to the near-snarly. The prices are high for the area, the attitude can at times be a bit pretentious, and I’m Just Not A Fan. It’s not Roadfood(tm). I haven’t been there since the move to Gold Beach – and I really don’t have any urge to. Chives is an attempt by Curry County Hillbillies to put on airs.
More Roadfoodish, and with wallpaper that is worth the drive, is O’Holleran’s Steakhouse on the north end of Brookings. The beef isn’t anything spectacular; it’s just a good place to have dinner. Lots of people celebrate special ocassions here. They do the relish tray/soup/salad/ice cream thing with every meal, and the servers are career waitresses usually. I feel like a Manhattan every time I walk in there. Make sure to note the wallpaper in the bar; it is priceless.
It’s really sad that the south coast is such a pit of despair when it comes to fine dining or even honest midmarket dining. While there’s not a proliferation of chains (the tourist trade is so seasonal, and the populations are pretty small), there’s a lot of indifferent food being slung by people who don’t seem to give a damn anymore. Service is universally incredibly bad, in large part because young people who haven’t been outside the area don’t know what good service is suppossed to be.
Sorry if this sounds like a rant; the Oregon Coast has some of the most amazing seafood of anywhere on the planet, and it’s possible to have a very close relationship with not only your fishmonger, but also your fisherman. If you’re RVing or have some way to cook what you find, you can be blown away by the total freshness and care in handling that these hard-working people are providing.
Further up the coast, the food tends to be better, by virtue of being closer to the farming areas of the Willamette Valley (better produce) and the year-round business provided by being close enough to the Portland area to be a comfortable daytrip.
Noting the route of the original poster, if you’re going to be at Crater Lake, you might as well come back via the scenic North Umpqua Highway and plan to have dinner at Steamboat Inn. It’s exceptional; fresh Northwest cuisine, served family-style at a beautiful fir table in a fishing lodge right by the river. It’s memorable. Their URL is http://www.thesteamboatinn.com , and reservations are essential.
The area between the Oregon Border and Bandon is some of the most beautiful on the west coast. Don’t miss it. From I-5 and Grant’s Pass take Hwy 199. This will take you to Cave Junction (and the Oregon Caves). When you’re done with the caves and checking out the three wineries in the neighborhood, continue on 199. Just past Jedidiah Smith Redwoods, take 197 to Hwy 101 and keep going north.
If you decide to come this way, stop at The Snug in the Brian Scott Gallery in Brookings for a nice cup of coffee, espresso (plain or fancy) or genuine English Tea and check out the art on display (just 6 miles north of the CA border at 515 Chetco which is Hwy 101 as it goes through town). Another must see is Natural Bridges Viewpoint, at mile marker 346. In Gold Beach, check out Chives (nice dinner house). In Bandon, don’t miss The Wheelhouse in Old Town and their wonderful cranberry chutney. Go to the store across the street with all the good cranberry candy for dessert (it’s called Cranberry Corners or something like that). Oh, and don’t forget the Bandon Cheese Factory where you can sample dozens of cheeses and get a great old-fashioned ice cream cone.
Having been up and down the coast many times, for some reason it always looks prettier when you’re heading south. And the viewpoints are much easier to pull into.
If you have the time, a visit to Oregon Caves Nat’l Monument
might be worthwhile. There is a fascinating underground tour
of the caves and a neat old 1920’s lodge that you can stay in.
Eugene: GJ’s Family restaurant-try the finger steaks (you have to
ask for them) 1536 W 6th Ave
1725 Coburg Rd
Seaside: Pig-n-Pancake restaurant on the boardwalk. Try the
Swedish pancakes. Good food all around
Tilamook: Tour the Creamery
Get some Jerky/sausage/pepperoni sticks at the store
on Hwy 101 in Tillamook-
Netarts Bay (west of Tillamook): Whiskey Creek Cafe
6060 Whiskey Creek Rd. W
Netarts Bay, Netarts.
restaurant that works with local farmers/fishermen
to present local products (Mr. Stern please note-a stop
for your next journey out this way)
Just south of Crater Lake there’s a little "wide spot in the road" called Union Creek and a quaint diner called Becky’s. The hamburgers are good, the locally brewed Widmer Hefeweizen is ice cold, and the pies are fantastic.
It’s a nice setting too. Union Creek looks like the kind of place Perry Mason would go fly fishing in the 50’s.
have fun on your trip
I’m heading to Oregon for a week long driving trip. Starting in Portland and heading to Columbia River Gorge/Mt. Hood, then on to Bend/SunRiver. We then head to Crater Lake before heading back west through the wine country to the coast. Up the coast and back to Portland.
Any suggestions of what to see or do and particularly eat would be greatly appreciated. (also anything to avoid…)
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