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Jul 8, 2007 11:04 AM

Astoria/Cannon Beach - any local favorites?

My husband and I will be spending a few days in Astoria and Cannon Beach in early August. Looking for wonderful food in the areas - any price points or types of food ok. Especially looking for great dinner spots using local ingredients, etc. And, we are willing to drive if it's worth it. Thanks in advance chowhounds!!

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  1. i love Astoria, used to live there half-time, and just got back from a trip on which i didn't manage to fit in all the food bits i wanted. here are some tips:

    1) Gunderson's Cannery Cafe. on the river, under the bridge, lovely food, lovely views, amazing salmon, even great salmon cakes, which I don't usually like. Fabulous creme brulee. So-so Swedish cream panna cotta. They serve a traditional Scandinavian potato dish of some sort which I'd steer away from -- sounds much better on the menu than it actually is. Otherwise, I'm very fond of peaceful evenings at the Cannery.

    2) Fort George Brewery, new place popular with locals, hidden back from the main street; on the east end of downtown, 1-2 streets uphill from the main drags. i think it's on Duane, near the Astoria Food Co-Op (a fine little grocery for organic foods, local cheeses too). Much better food, selection and preparation wise, than your average pub fare. Great brews; I loved Quick Wit (hints of cardamom, elderberry, and lemongrass) and the amazing non-alcoholic Wasabi Ginger Ale. High ceilings and hand-hewn wooden benches, just a really neat place.

    3) Astoria Sunday Market. Put on your hat and sunscreen, bring a little shopping tote and a wad of cash, and enjoy goodness from the whole local region. The food court is pretty fun, but for serious foodie searches just go around to the booths at the fair (it's all downtown, streets closed -- unmissable). Do not miss the older fellow and his wife selling smoked salmon spread & wrapping it up in ice & aluminum foil. This stuff is so delicious it makes me cry. A sort of hippie farmer sets up on the corner of Duane Street and sells tomato plants, produce, and really spectacular honey (not sure how the honey will be this year, considering the bee problem). At that time of year you should see fresh berries everywhere, including on the zillions of blackberry bushes throughout Astoria. Occasionally, the Alsea Goat Farm will come to Sunday market. Absolutely phenomenal chevre, which you just can't find in Portland, at least not that I've been able to discover.

    This is going to take forever! I'll try to post one-liners.

    4) Le Bistro in Cannon Beach, on the main drag. Lovely bistro.

    5) Pig 'n' Pancake in Cannon Beach, Astoria, and Seaside. Mini-chain diner of big piggie breakfasts. This area is rich in Swedish, Finnish, etc culture and heritage; I go to P n P especially for the Swedish lingonberry pancakes. But you can also get a regular egg & bacon platter the size of your head.

    6) T. Paul's Urban Cafe. on main drag headed east in Astoria. Good salads, ridiculously overloaded tortilla-based foods that aren't my kind of thing, and the best Swedish Cream Panna Cotta i've ever had. (next i have to try Sweden.) Nice casual environment.

    7) Coffee -- Astoria Coffee is new, near the Columbian Cafe, serves Stumptown roast coffee & so is very good. Coffee Girl way out east of town on the newly-restored Pier 39 (old Bumble Bee cannery building) is good and has an unbeatable view. Food is so-so, with a nice hearty clam chowder.

    8) Columbian Cafe. A notoriously moody chef makes this small rustic place a sometimes tense, always delicious experience. Famed for breakfast and brunch. Rumour has it the New York Times sent a photographer in and the owner/chef was so rude to her, and made her wait so long, she finally left. Order the chef's special and let him invent something for you. Also known for wildly hot jellies; buy some on your way out.

    Underwhelming experiences: the Schooner's/Bistro across the street from Hotel Elliott. Trying really hard to be a big-city bistro, not all that well. Yawn. Fusilio's pasta place -- just not that fabulous. Baked Alaska on the river is pretty good, but overrated -- I'd take the Cannery in a heartbeat instead.

    2 Replies
    1. re: magdalen23

      These suggestions are wonderful! Really appreciate your thoughtful response. . .can't wait to try some of your suggestions. Thank you, thank you!

      1. re: magdalen23

        Thank you mag, for a fantastic detail of Astoria,
        The one-liner plus highlights entries are great.
        Maybe because the place was not busy, but we did enjoy a very thoughtfully prepared and presented meal at Fulio's, and he recommended very good wines with our meal: a very nice grilled Caesar, good steak, pasta puttanesca.
        We have been looking forward to another visit to Astoria, and now will need to book extra time, to work our way through your wonderful list. Thanks for the report.

      2. I just returned from a late June visit to the N Coast and thanks to chowhounders had a couple of memorable meals both between Manzanita and Tillamook. (you said you would drive a bit?)

        The first was at Nehalem River Inn, a standard when I visit the coast for business. Good upscale food in a nice dining atmosphere without being stuffy. Two of us had the filet and were very pleased, and our picky eater had lamb shanks with equally positive result. A dependable if a bit (for coast) expensive standby.

        The second and a find for me was Treasure Cafe in Wheeler, again just south of Manzanita. Here we had an outstanding, interesting meal and great fun chatting with dinners and the chef. It's in a very small house a block off the highway across from the post office, and the exterior could make some a bit reluctant. Inside is a small dining room with maybe 8 tables and 24 seats and a 2 person operation. The small but interesting menu was doubled by the daily specials from which our party ordered 2 copper river salmon filets and a stuffed sole (w/shrimp, mushrooms, champagne reduction). We started with a special crab cake "volcano", a cylindrical formation of all Dungeness Crab and no filler. It was seated in a Thai chili sauce that really stimulated and varied the taste experience, and pleased our party very much. Finally, the desserts were outstanding, including a layered-flavors ice cream concoction and also a chocolate "bomb" that was more delicate that it sounds. Conversing with the chef (thank you! what's your favorite place in Portland . . . ? ) and banter among diners sealed a very nice experience, thanks to past suggestions on this board. This place is only open Thurs-Sun 6-9 and is very small so reservations recommended (though we didn't have any for a Thursday 7 pm arrival). The chef says they hope to seat outside some this summer.

        FYI, our meal at the Bistro in Cannon Beach last summer was ordinary, and not in the league of the 2 places above. Loved it before that, but these things do change.

        3 Replies
        1. re: deejj

          It's been a while since I've been to either place, but the old log cabin restaurant in CB (on the main drag, near the bathrooms/parking lot) is an old institution & their clam chowder is great - better than many other seafood places along the coast. Lazy Susan was also a good spot for lunch - vegetarian friendly, local products if I remember correctly.

          SO excited stumptown has made it to the coast! Now if it would only make it to the other coast...

          1. re: deejj

            thanks for these pointers, deejj -- and you know what? last time we ate at Bistro i thought it was a little less upstanding than in previous years, and thought i'd hit an off-night. have they changed hands or chefs?

            1. re: magdalen23

              m23, that's interesting. I don't know what the explanation might be, but I picked the Bistro for my 2 bosses, one of whom was celebrating a birthday, so that should be revealing both about my past feelings about the place and the feelings I subsequently developed as a result. It's one night and anecdotal, and it wasn't bad or anything, but a middling experience like that will make a return unlikely when I'm there next in August. I'm not a local, but when I brought up the subject to one I know, her expression told me something had changed but (for reasons best not written) I didn't pursue further.

              If you know Astoria, had you heard of the Bosnian place someone mentioned in another thread, Drina something? Thinking I might lunch on next drive down . . .

          2. Thank you all for your very thoughtful replies. Can't wait to try some of your suggestions. . .

              1. Thanks so much for all of your thoughtful replies. . .we ended up trying Nehalem River Inn and LOVED it. The food was so uniquely prepared - everything was absolutely perfect. It was a special restaurant with a cozy feel and great service, and top notch food. We enjoyed it immensely.

                In Astoria, also loved Gunderson's Cannery Cafe - ended up going there twice. Great for lunch and dinner - lots of unique dishes and freshly prepared fish. Loved it! Also, loved the location right on the river.

                Thank you so much for all of your responses!

                1 Reply
                1. re: foodseeker

                  Thanks for reporting back, so glad you loved it. It is a favorite of ours and yes, Nicole and Ryan (the owners/chef) have made it a very special place.