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Salem, OR: Where shall we eat?

Looking for a place or two to sample while in town.

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  1. What's with Salem? I've posted twice trying to find out where to eat, and not one reply. Is the food that bad?

    2 Replies
    1. re: TokyoLane

      Hey, we moved to Salem about a year ago and it's pretty small town as far as the food scene goes and lots of chain restaurnats, one blog that you might wanna check out...


      1. re: TokyoLane

        I lived in Salem for years and, thankfully, no longer do. There are precious few dining bright spots there but I will tell you that breakfast at White's on South Commercial just outside of downtown is a must. It's traditional American breakfast fare done the way it should be.

        For a delicious dinner, head to Dundee (just outside of Salem) to Tina's. You can get details at www.tinasdundee.com. You will find regional Oregon ingredients and wines, outstanding preparations, friendly service and an intimate atmosphere in the middle of wine country.

        The Joel Palmer House in Dayton, which is also a fairly short drive outside of Salem, is known for the unique use of mushrooms in a fine dining setting inside a historical home. You can find them on-line at www.joelpalmerhouse.com.

        If you don't want to leave the environs of Salem, try DaVinci's but there is little else in town that passes for good food.

      2. yep, meca of fast food.

        Weird town

        1. Also know as Snalem. It is a capital town. www.salemfood.org I believe

          1. Except for a couple of craft breweries with good beer - there is nothing but fast food in Salem. Head north a ways and you'll find Willamette Valley Vineyards with good wine - but you'll have to head to Portland for good restaurants.

            3 Replies
            1. re: bminister

              Some of the posts on this board really are just silly. Case in point, the preceding. Sorry, but it's true.

              1. re: donttrustsnakes

                So, donttrustsnakes, you sound like you might know of a good place to eat in salem...share?

                1. re: TokyoLane

                  I was responding to the goofy (hyperbolic?) suggestion that "there is nothing but fast food in Salem." I like Christo's Pizza, which not only might have better pies than anywhere in Seattle but serves Lurisia water, which I have never seen in Seattle. Off Center Cafe for breakfast, perhaps.

            2. There is some good food in Salem. And now there's a blog about Salem food. It's http://eatsalem.blogspot.com/

              If you want a great meal, check out DaVinci's, on High St. Best pizza is Apizza in Stayton. Tacos? JR's and La Perla are good. Burgers? I'm a fan of Burger Basket. There are a ton of great breakfast joints, Off Center Cafe, Court St Dairy Lunch, Busick, Sassy Onion.

              It is a challenge finding good food in Salem. But look around a bit and it does exist!

              5 Replies
              1. re: tubagurl

                Right on tubagirl! You made a good list. It's a challenge to find interesting eats in Salem, which makes it that much more satisfying when you do. I would second Jr's Taqueria which has really excellent, authentic Mexican food. I don't understand why it's always mostly empty when I go there. Thai Beer Restaurant has the quirkiest name and pretty good Thai food. Go to Salvadore's Bakery for a dozen tamales ($10) and a slice of tres leches cake to go. Yum. Or head out to EZ Orchards to buy fresh apples in season and their wonderful apple cider donuts made fresh daily all year long. Kim Huong is the place to go for good Vietnamese food. And Momiji's has the best sushi in town. See, TokyoLane, it's not as bad as you think.

                1. re: Amecameca

                  The best place in Salem is Thai Beer off of Lancaster near Shopko. The Thai there is as good as any in the region--no kidding. Aside from that, well it's slim pickings. I've heard there's a very good restaurant out at the Salem Airport, and another on the west side across the bridge that's hard to see and down in a basement somewhere. Ask around--somebody will know what you're talking about if you're out scouting for this. Twenty minutes north in Woodburn there is some really good, cheap, and authentic Mexican.

                  1. re: rogerbp2

                    Out near the salem airport, there's the Hanger, which I haven't tried but is supposed to be decent burgers/soup/sandwiches. Rumor has it the breakfasts there are good as well. There's also the Maui Grill near the airport, but I thought the menu was odd, service sucked and the food was so-so. there were a few interesting hawaiian foods, but not enough to make me want to go back.

                    The one in the basement, that must be Morton's. I've been there once, and want to try it again. It's oddly hard to find, the location is simply strange. But the food was at least decent. Not stellar.

                    What do you recommend in Woodburn? I drove through there around lunchtime and didn't know where to stop, so I kept going until I got to Salem and went to Kim Huong's for a big bowl of pho.

                    1. re: tubagurl

                      Where are you located? Are you staying in Salem for a short while?

                      Woodburn has a downtown area next to some railroad tracks. Everyone there is Mexican. I ate at a place called Louise's, and the food was good. Nothing there is spectacular, and the places to eat are mostly sort of cold and sparse. But it's unusual, authentic, and dirt cheap.

                2. re: tubagurl

                  Thanks for the suggestions. Busick is a go for breakfast, and we always love pizza. I'll check out the blog.


                3. So anything in particular you are looking for? There are a couple of higher-class places in town, like J. James at Pringle Park, or Mortons out in West Salem.... Apizza in Stayton is indeed excellent, but if you can't make it out there, Paddingtons is also very good. Ever want to try something Salvadoran? Los Dos Hermanos in Keizer on River Rd.

                  1. Salem isn't the hot spot for eating that Portland is, that is for sure. Rudy's at Salem Golf Course has wonderful steaks, Amadeus has very good continental cuisine, White's has great breakfasts, Busick Court has wonderful breakfasts and lunch, Burger Basket makes killer burgers, Christos is wonderful pizza, JRs has yummy Mexican, a wonderful Vietnamese place on Silverton Road and Lansing who's name I can't remember, and a fabulous Lao-Thai place on Commercial called Lanxang.

                    Let us know what you think of the places you try!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: salemjan

                      The Vietnamese place is Kim Huong if I'm not mistaken. Haven't been there in awhile... need to go again.

                    2. If you're looking for something a little more upscale, try Bentley's Grill downtown. We also like the Willamette Pasta Company on N. Broadway- tiny place, but good pasta. For big-plate Mexican, try Los Dos Amigos on Lancaster Dr. The Wild Pear (downtown) is nice for lunch also.
                      If you want dessert and like cake, go directly to Gerry Frank's Kondeterai on S. Commercial.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: mamabigdog

                        Salemjan, What restaurants do you think are the best in Portland?

                        1. re: lovesfood11

                          We have a small apartment in the Pearl and have loved walking and exploring the neighborhood. We really like Sungari Pearl, Wildwood, pub-grub at Bridgeport Brewery, Silk, Elani (spelling?), Paley's Place is amazing, Ken's Artisan Bakery for sandwiches, pizza on Monday night, and we love his morning rolls, DF for Mexican, we love Russell Street BBQ....I could go on and on!
                          How about you?

                          1. re: salemjan

                            Never been to Oregon but I will be up there in the next few weeks with my mom to look at some colleges. So i wanted some reccomendations for restaurants.

                      2. Although I don't live in Salem, my family is from there and I'm up there for work all the time-and yeah, pretty slim pickings. I did have a really nice dinner at Caruso's Italian Cafe, on River Road in Keizer (the town at the north end of Salem that has become just a suburb of Salem). Nice atmosphere, good food, reasonable price, good service.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: girlwonder88

                          When did you have dinner at Caruso's? We ate there over a year ago and it was horrible. There were 3 of us and every dinner was over cooked, rubbery and made with plastic cheese. Hopefully, that was just an blip. Was your experience recent?

                        2. Although I haven't been there for a long time, the cafeteria at Willamette University is quite good. No kidding! I understand that they try to use local, sustainable ingredients. It certainly is cheap enough to find out if it still good.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: bards4

                            My restaurant list so far for Oregon is Siam Society, Bakery Bar, Mamma Mia Trattoria, Russel Street BBQ, Myrtles tea house, apizza scholls. piazza italia, and paleys place. What do you guys think? and is there anything I should take off or add to my list?

                          2. Probably too late, but I'll throw in my 2 cents:

                            The only place to go for breakfast is the Off Center. You cannot beat the Bibble and Squib with everything (scrambled eggs with ham, potatoes, onions, cheese, mushrooms, and curry).

                            Pizza - Pietro's, the pizza of my childhood that mysteriously pulled out of Washington and can now only be found in a couple places in Oregon.

                            Nice sit down dinner at the Old Europe Inn - Can be just a little bit hit or miss, but many more hits than misses. Pretty good wine selection.

                            1. Not that far from Dayton, hit the Joel Palmer House. His mushroom madness tasting menu is legendary.

                              1. No one has mentioned Soba located on State st. It's one of our favorites. An Asian noodle bar. The salads are outstanding too.
                                Carusso's in Keizer IS excellent and now they have moved a little farther North. Over looking Stats Lake.
                                Christo's is by far the best Pizza in our book.

                                1. Has anyone tried The Soup Cellar? It used to be located in the basement of the Reed Opera House, but can now be found at its new location on NE Liberty, off the Salem Parkway, in the same lot as the Applebee's and Starbucks.

                                  Their menu includes three different soups, daily, prepared from scratch. As well as, awesome, healthy sandwiches, wraps, 12 different kinds of hummus, bubble teas, an extensive salad bar with more than 30 items, and Filipino dishes.

                                  Everything is prepared made-to-order. They offer vegan and vegetarian items: soups, salads, sandwiches, and wraps.

                                  You can dine in, get an order to go, or even call in an order to go. Visit them at their new location, or online at soupcellar.com.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: dusk2311

                                    I have had the best lunch and dinner at Finz in Salem...the menu is smaller but, they have a wide selection. I loved the lobster raviolis! and the musses were great. Nice cocktails too. I would also try the Old Spot...it's very cozy..perfect place to warm up or take a date.

                                    1. re: NSlovesfood

                                      NSlovesfood, I just googled those two, and it appears that they're in Salem, MA, not Salem, OR :)