Maybe the best chow deal in town is Thompson Brewery's happy hour. Get there before six and order off the happy hour menu. A bowl of soup or a big salad for just over $2; a good burger and their great greasy fries for just over $3. Good appetizers for $2-3 too. I just went there with a party of four and the bill was only $32 with a pitcher of beer. Amazing!
I recently moved to Salem, and like you, I'm having a very hard time finding good food! So far, here's what I've tried and liked:
Lanxang, a Laotian/Thai place on Commercial at Kuebler, next to the Dollar store.
Off Center Cafe
Thai Beer can be good, but it can also be pretty mediocre. I went once and was pleasantly surprised. Next time I went I was disappointed. I like their currys, and their tom kha soup is decent. some of their stir frys lack much flavor.
I had a decent dinner at the Roadhouse on Commercial. Not spectacular, but good garlic mashed potatoes, and cheap martinis on thursday. Very noisy though.
Welcome to Salem! I agree with what you've suggested 100%. Tell me about Momiji. I'm not familiar with it.
I'd also suggest Busick Court on court Street downtown. We like the Vietnamese restaurant on the corner of Lansing and Silverton Road....I can't remember the name. Whites Restaurant on Commercial (right across from the Road House) has very good breakfasts and lunches. They are now open for dinner too, but we haven't been.
Let's keep in touch about what we're finding in Salem. I look forward to hearing back from you!
I haven't been to the Vietnamese place on Silverton, but the Asian market next door to it is great! I found some hard to find thai ingredients there. I'm planning on checking out the restaurant soon.
Momiji is a pretty decent sushi place on Commercial, in a shopping plaza near Buster's BBQ. It's next to a Subway and Lefty's Pizzaria. I've only been there once but I'll go back.
I've heard great things about Busick (didn't rachel ray discuss them when she did a show in salem?), and I'm glad to hear a good review on Whites, I drive by it all the time and haven't been in.
Last night I stopped and got a burger at Burget Basket on Mission. It was great! Surprised me. Excellent burgers, good toppings, make sure you get the grilled onions. I didn't get a shake, but will for sure next time.
I think that there are many more chow-worthy places in Salem, you just have to dig a bit more to get past the Red Robin and IHOP crowd!
I second salemjan's recommendation of JR's Tacqueria. Try the chili rellenos, chicken sopes, carnitas tacos, or tortas. Yum! Salvadore's Bakery at 3790 Silverton Road has awesome tamales and tres leches cake. Momiji at 2916 South Commercial has good sushi and other Japanese food. The best Thai food in town is at the Thai Beer Restaurant (great name!) in a shopping center near ShopKo at 1130 Lancaster. For breakfast or lunch try the Off Center Cafe, 1741 Center St., a classic old hippie cafe. And speaking of classics, the Court Street Dairy Lunch in downtown Salem has been serving up burgers and shakes for decades (347 Court St.). Try the meat loaf sandwich. Another great family run burger joint is Burger Basket at 2455 Mission St. Maui Grill at 2535 25th St. serves up authentic home-style Hawaiian food -- I go there for breakfast on the weekend. For a cheap gourmet lunch, smart Salemites head for the Goudy Commons at Willamette U. -- excellent food at low college student prices.
You have to look a little harder to find good chow in Salem, but when you find it, it's all the more satisfying.
We live in Salem and also have a small place in The Pearl that we use on weekends or for occasional weeknights.....so I think I really get the very best of both worlds. I agree with SarahT2 on the places she mentioned. If you like authentic Mexican with little atmosphere but great food, try JR's on Winter Street. Also we think Rudy's at the Salem Gof Course on River Road South has good basic "American" food. Steaks are first rate, as are their fish and chips, burgers and tuna sandwiches! Please let us know what you try and what you think!
Here are a few suggestions: If you are looking for a lunch place, I would recommend Wild Pear (either downtown or on River Road South) or Amadeus Cafe. If you are looking for a dinner place, I would recommend Wild Pear (the River Road South location only; downtown closes at 2:00), Amadeus Cafe, J. James, DaVinci's, Old Europe Inn, or Morton's Bistro. Salem is not devoid of good food options -- we just have far fewer non-chain/good/independent choices than other cities of comparable size. Good luck!