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Eugene??

Do people who like food live here at all? I cannot find any restaurants worth a damn, and I am really trying. Help!

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  1. I am no longer a Eugenius, but you're right--there's not much for restaurants. Marche is pretty good for a splurge dinner. Ring of Fire is not bad for fusion type thai. I like Taqueria Dos Aguilas. The Fisherman's Market, in addition to having good fish has good crab dinners in season. The best thing about Eugene is not the restaurants. The farmer's market kicks ass. They have a several good bakeries, 2 fishmongers, and a real butcher. I now live in DC, a city with great restaurants, and I don't have good access to any of these things.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chickenlover

      Sorry to report that Dos Aguilas is no more :(

    2. I enjoy Bruno's Chef Kitchen on 35th and Hilyard and Mazzi's on E. Amazon for nice dinners. China Blue on campus has dynamite Singapore Noodles at a great price. One Bad Dog on campus has great Chicago dogs. Toshii's Ramen on 15th and Pearl has EXCELLENT authentic ramen, teriyaki and cha-han. Food is where you find it. Frankly, there's excellent meat at Bright Oaks or Long's and the Farmer's Markets have beautiful greens and herbs. Post some reviews or what you think good food SHOULD be, then maybe you can get some better suggestions.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Haughtywench

        Wow, you are haughty. I do know about the markets and all the amazing places to buy food to prepare myself, which I do most of the time, and that's great. As I said above, I am looking for restaurants.
        I am looking for more places to eat out--other than various Asian cuisines, which as you have pointed out is not at all hard to find here. I haven't been overly impressed, but I am definitely going to check out Toshi's Ramen--that sounds great.
        I am looking for anything really...most people, though, when I ask where they like to eat or what their favorite restaurants are say...Ring of Fire or The Keystone. It is limiting.
        Thanks for your suggestions,

        1. re: kpangaro

          Yep! It goes with the hair.
          Seriously, Toshii-san makes damn good food. Affordable and filling everytime we go.
          You've visited Sunrise Asian Foods too? Best darn little grocery in the area I think. Chapala is next door and really tasty Mexican as well.

          1. re: Haughtywench

            I have hit Sunrise and King's as well. I've not been to Chalapa yet, but I have some people in town tomorrow--sounds good, I think I will take them there.
            Thanks!

            1. re: kpangaro

              Try the Carne Asada, that's my husband's favorite. Across the street at Market of Choice there is a new pastry/gelato counter and a nice sit down eating area for a little desert! Then head on down to the Owen Rose Garden for some lovely flowers down by the river. http://www.gardenvisit.com/ge/owenros... Bring some umbrellas too. Hopefully the sun will burn off a bit of the clouds. To really sell Eugene you have to show off the parks and the greenery. You can hit the Saturday Market too, but Graduation weekend is not the best for that trip. Stay away from campus if you can, today is the one day that OPS does not give tickets on campus due to the chaos.

            2. re: Haughtywench

              OK, I'm a little late to this discussion, but Chapala????? It might be OK if you've got an entertainment book coupon, but to me they're just another place trying to make Mexican food that caters to timid diners who think enchiladas might be too spicy (perhaps it's that huge seniors complex a few doors down that helps drive their menu). This is not a place where you see many Mexican-Americans eating and that pretty much says it all.

              1. re: bruce3404

                Agreed. I actually think Chapala is one of the worst--if not THE worst--"Mexican" places in Eugene. Just terrible.

                1. re: antrobin

                  Agreed, I live down the street from the Oakway Mall location and it is bad mex. Thank goodness I am in Phoenix once a month at least and I can get good stuff there.

                2. re: bruce3404

                  I agree! Ugh. We actually recently discovered Daniel's, on Broadway...little place that looks like every other Mexican restaurant around, but has great homemade tortillas and fabulous Tacos El Carbon. Almost everyone else eating there when we've been there is from Mexico....good sign.

              2. re: kpangaro

                Are there farmer's markets in the area other than the one in Saturday market?

            3. Sushi Domo - suprisingly good and creative sushi

              Sweet Life - desserts

              Marche cafe - pizza & salad lunch special

              Sweet Basil - I personally prefer them over ring of fire for thai

              Newman's Fish Market - too too too greasy for me, but some people are into it

              Market of Choice - Mama Leone's Chicken Soup, and the deli rarely dissapoints (though unlike Haughty Wench, I don't like their gelato - find it to be grainy and inconsistant)

              Toshi Ramen - HaughtyWench has covered this

              Ocean Sky - The best Chinese in the area (but don't take this to mean mean it is great or anything)

              King's Estate Winery - on a warm, sunny day when you're not pressed for time, this is a good place to go for lunch or dinner on the patio which overlooks the vineyards (they also have indoor seating, but it's just not quite the same)

              Noho's Hawaiian bbq - get the guava chicken or the short ribs, avoid most things beef

              Cafe Zenon - decent american food (and great carrot cake)

              Lucky Noodle - not a fan of their food (same owners/menu as ring of fire but with an italian addition), but they have good cocktails

              Howlin Cyote BBQ - a bit tacky, but still tastey

              Bates Steak House - I would avoid this

              Glenwood - american cafe food leaning towards the greasy side, kind of a eugene institution (good or bad depending on who you ask)

              Burrito Boy - another Eugene institution... get the carne asada burrito

              Any of the McMinemans locations - standard pub food, nothing spectacular but also somewhat of an institution (the patio on the North Bank is pretty nice)

              Villard Pub - pub food that is suprisingly good IMO, I like their black & blue sliders as well as their duck stirps... but really, make sure you try the chips & the fries, there is nothign else like them

              The seafood pancake at the Korean Place under the Market of Choice near UO (I forget the name) is really good - the other stuff not so much

              Friends tell me that Bepe and Giani's is good, but personally have never been

              1 Reply
              1. re: clearskies0810

                Cafe Seoul is the little place next to Hirons. (I really miss The Plaza, that was dynamite Korean and The Jail just isn't up to the same quality.)

                There's a Ben and Jerry's next door to the Market of Choice at Willamette, but my heart belongs to Manderin Chocolate Prince Pucklers.

                There's a Thursday Farmer's Market at the Fairgrounds and there used to be one at the SouthTown shops on Willamette too. I'm not sure if it is still there though.
                I know Lone Pine Farms out on River Road had a very nice selection of Autumnal yummy things when we went to the corn maze. I think they have summer crops as well.
                Eugene is a yummy area to live in I think, an hour from the ocean and an hour from the mountains.

              2. Please avoid Chapala. It's easily some of the worst "Mexican" food I've ever eaten. Don't get me wrong--I'm not one of those who demands authenticity, but I've never had even a decent meal there. Moreno's, now defunct, was the best Mexican in town. I'm not sure there's really anything left worth eating besides what can be found in the taco shops, some of which is very good--particularly those in Springfield.

                Zenon is very hit-and-miss. Ten years ago they were solid, if not excellent. Nowadays, it's a crap-shoot. I've had very good meals and very bad meals there. For Italian, Beppe & Giannis is pretty good. Not mind-blowing, but good. Avoid Ambrosia. For old-school red-checked tablecloth southern Italian-American food, Mazzi's is an institution. My picks for Thai would be Chao Pra Ya and Sweet Basil. The former is more authentic, the latter a little fancier, a little more Americanized, but still very tasty.

                Marche is easily the best fine-dining restaurant in town--very consistent, always good. I would also recommend Red Agave for upscale American food with Mexican flavors. I wouldn't really call it a Mexican restaurant, though it has the sort of menu that is popular in some upscale restaurants in Mexico City. Essentially, though, it's Americn food. Very very good, however. And expensive.

                Toshi's Ramen, already mentioned, is superb. The ramen is the best I've ever had, the gyoza are the best I've ever had, even the chicken teriyaki is the best i've ever had. Hell, everything I've eaten there is the best of its kind I've tried.

                Finally, Sushi Domo serves up some damn fine sushi. I've eaten a lot of sushi around the country, particularly San Francisco, and Sushi Domo still ranks in my top 5.

                11 Replies
                1. re: antrobin

                  Tio Pepe's has good Mexican food on River Rd. We like their macro salsa with carrots and jalapeno's, etc.

                  My favorite Mexican in town is Plaza Latina ~7th and Taylor. Their marinated meats are excellent. A combination of 3 tacos of various meats (Asada, Pollo, Lengua, Chorizo, Pastor) and an ice cold coke (from Mexico, like they used to taste in the US) tantalizes my taste buds. When Coke introduced CocaCola Classic they switched from Cane sugar to Corn sugar - in Mexico it is still made with Cane sugar and packaged in a glass bottle.

                  I like the Mauna Loa Chicken at Hawaiian Time - a nice little spicy burn from what I have long considered a, comparatively, bland cuisine.

                  I was surprised to see how crowded the patio was at Sweet Cheeks Winery last Friday night. I guess live music is standard fare and it looked as though many brought picnic dinners to enjoy the wine and views from the hillside location.

                  Eugene is spoiled with Thai choices, but Vietnamese is lacking (Pho and Bahn Mi). Indian locally hasn't been the same since Priya shut it's doors.

                  I have lived in parts of the country where dining out meant choose a meat and three vegetables (a meat and three) so I guess I can't complain (but sometimes I still do, life's been good to me so far...)

                  1. re: Andy Jacob

                    From what I understand, Lupita's next to the carniceria by the same name on Blair has re-opened. If true, they would trump Plaza Latina, imo. Of course this is Mexican street food/taqueria food. I prefer Burrito Boy to Tio Pepe's.

                    Chapala is the best Mexican-American I've had in Eugene in a long time, but it's not especially good. I'd waver between it and a Chevy's.

                    Howlin' Coyote is mediocre. Ribs are the best item, but still not especially good. Other than the sausage and onion rings, I wouldn't really eat anything else there. Hole in the Wall is about the same overall. Big Stuff in Cottage Grove is worth the drive.

                    I've tried most of the Thai places in town now and would rate them thusly:

                    Aiyara's^ = B+
                    Chao Pra Ya = B-
                    Mekala's = B-
                    Manola's = B-
                    Ring of Fire+ = C
                    Sweet Basil* = C
                    Tasty Thai = D-

                    ---
                    http://www.portlandfood.org
                    http://www.extramsg.com

                    ^ = Fantastic specials like gang hung lay (called Chiang Mai curry on her specials board
                    )+ = Some dishes really good, some really bad.
                    * = Only tried Portland locations.

                    1. re: extramsg

                      Have you tried Kuraya's Thai in Springfield? It's catty-corner from McKenzie Willamette on Mohawk Blvd. My bosses adore their soups.

                      1. re: Haughtywench

                        Actually, come to think of it, Kuraya's may be the best Thai in the Eugene/Springfield area. They've been consistent (and affordable) for years.

                        Back in the early 90s, Mekala's (in its original 5th st. location) was great. No so much anymore.

                        As for Indian--Priya used to be really good. Too bad they're not around anymore.

                        1. re: antrobin

                          The people who own/run Siam Society in Portland used to own/run Mekala's. Now it's a cousin or aunt or something, I believe.

                          I haven't been to Kuraya's. I keep bugging a friend to try it and if I could have remembered the address I would have tried it this last weekend. I plan on trying it and re-hitting Mekala's and Chao Pra Ya, plus more BBQ, next time. If Kuraya's is better than Aiyara's, though, I'll be impressed. Her specials are nearly spot on and her curries are always vibrant. You must get the khao man som tum when she has it and the kanom jiin. The current crispy fish salad and gang hung lay (Chiang Mai curry) are two of the best I've had from her, too.

                          ---
                          http://www.extramsg.com
                          http://www.portlandfood.org

                          1. re: extramsg

                            I haven't yet been to Aiyara's. A friend of mine goes pretty regularly and he reports that it's "okay, nothing special," which makes me wonder why he eats there so frequently. I'll have to get over there soon.

                            1. re: antrobin

                              She's really obsessed with getting things to taste right. She has a great memory, too, and if you start to be a regular she'll recognize you and bring you tastes of stuff she's working on, specials, or even something she made for herself. I have a friend who's at that stage. I think she has a great sense for balancing flavors. She really cares about the food, she loves her hometown of Chiang Mai and loves to try to recapture its flavors. I wish she had better access to ingredients. She has to come up to Portland and go to Lily Market and Marisa Express to get stuff.

                              1. re: extramsg

                                Aiyara's is the place by Gateway Mall, isn't it? I love her! Great food, reasonable prices, such nice people. Used to eat there frequently before working in Corvallis. I also love Chao Pro Ya for Thai. Have tried Sweet Basil once and enjoyed. I think Mekala's is overrated and expensive.

                                1. re: girlwonder88

                                  Yep, that's the one. btw, I just talked with a friend. They've been closed because they're expanding into the next door shop. During the expansion he's been eating at Ta Ra Rin, which apparently is by the family of Chao Pra Ya and he thinks it's better.

                                  ---
                                  http://portlandfood.org/index.php?sho...

                        2. re: Haughtywench

                          Always up for Thai, I ventured over yesterday. If you can judge a restaurant on a single dish, in this case Tom Kha Gai, I was underwhelmed. The flavor profile was good, however I found the soup to be coarse with chunks of ginger, lemongrass, etc. Worse yet, the chicken was all dark meat.

                          As to the quality of their service, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt as the soups are not on the lunch menu (odd in itself) but with the restaurant 1/4 full my order took 30 minutes.

                      2. re: Andy Jacob

                        Sweet Cheeks calls their Friday evening festivities (as you described) "Twilight Tastings." This is a regular thing year round, I think.

                        And you are dead on about the lack of Vietnamese and Indian food... what little exists in Eugene is barely edible IMO.

                    2. I went to Cafe Sorriah for a friend's graduation from law school and it was superb. Mediteranean/NW influenced and the owner/chef will make special dishes at your table.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Cognac

                        I always wonder where you could park at Cafe Soriah, perhaps there are some back or side streets?
                        Poppi's/Anatolia has some lovely Mediteranean specials too, but again the parking issue downtown.