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Jun 16, 2008 01:30 AM


My son took me to the Gibson House Bar and Grill for a delicious brunch. Excellent scrambled egg cassorole and meats including prime rib. Everything was gooid!.
Located at 221 N. Tower in Centralia, WA.

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  1. If your going through Centralia , the best food option is the secret one least discussed .

    Take it from a resident who knows far better food than what is put before you in most of Centralia

    But first, La Tarasca

    Although La Tarasca has been much discussed on this site for its very good Mexican food, (if you stay away form the truly terrible chiles rellenos and mediocre tamales) it's prices are really climbing.

    The way around that is to order the special of the day which is usually the best thing on the menu, anyway.
    Everything else comes ala carte which adds up really fast. The thing to do is for one person to order the special with its huge portions of rice and beans (there to fill up that gigantic plate) , and the other to order an item ala carte, and then split the whole meal. And split a serving of the flan. Which is so richly sweet you get tired of it halfway through . They don't serve any thing that has avocados and don't serve chips. They want you to eat and leave so they can turn over those tables FAST. Lingering is not an option.And it can get quite noisy.

    And get ready for the slick tip-wring family speil from the waitress which is pretty tiresome after the tenth time you've heard it.

    I wish I could like Burgerville. Unfortunately it is a pretty sad thing to have to happen to local ingredients.
    If you miss school cafeteria food, you'll find it here with the blandest vengeance.
    Having the turkey burger is experiencing the zen definition of tasteless.

    But stop there for a fruit shake in summer. they are fairly nice. The best thing on the menu- the smoked salmon salad -is not available right now. Ironically, the burgers suffer from that thing where you can't have any item served in anything approaching rare. So if you like the taste of consistently grey, dried out, over-cooked meat, this is the place for you.

    And I hate to admit it, but McDonald' breakfasts aren't much different. I really want to like and support this chain, but, regretably, the food really needs some major work.

    Go to Papa Ray's instead. All-day breakfasts. And Centralia's best kept secret.

    If you want what you think you'd be getting at Burgerville go to Papa Ray's. It's my favorite place to eat locally, on Main Street, a few blocks down from La Tarasca.

    This is a classic American diner of the coziest, unpretentiously old-fashioned, bare-bones sort.

    A bit beat up, utilitarian and with great cooks, the kind of waitresses that are professional without being annoying, and a background of locals cheerfully chowing down. If you do have that need to have a burger, this is the place in Centralia to have it.

    They smoke their own meats and their barbecued beef sandwich is sheer pleasure. Have it with the exceedingly good coleslaw and you will be contented for the day. The most unexceptional thing I have ever had there is better than much of what you'll find in other restaurants in Centralia.

    They make their own pies. Fairly sweet, so ice cream with fruit pies is a good idea. Again you can split a sandwich and each have a big slab of pie and leave feeling well-fed instead of overstuffed. These are much better pies than Berry Fields, which is the kind of place you take your germ-phobic older aunts to bump into the local preachers.

    The Olympic Club has great beer, is where you wantot sit and relax, especially on winter nights and mostly mediocre way-overpriced pub food . Generally served under strongly acrid layers of onions, so you'd be wise to ask for them on the side.

    Burgers are so-so. And anything fried isn't worth eating.. Basically, it's heavy -handed guy food so stick with the simple or you won't be happy. I wish they could figure out how to do a burger. How hard can it possibly be?

    The best thing they serve is on Friday- a truly outstanding clam chowder. Served in very small portions. So order the bowl. It will be tiny.

    The secret is using lots of bacon, onions and heavy cream. It's a couple of clams removed from perfection.

    .Just make sure they serve it to you hot unless you are as much of a fan of lukewarm as the management is.

    Split a roast beef sandwich and an order of their very good bread pudding or fruit crumble and you won't waddle out of there. Their brew-pub beer is why you're there. It's terrific.

    Chehalis has a fantastic bakery cafe on a downtown corner -pink awning- with some of the best quiches on the West Coast and superb bread and European pastries.

    Well worth the detour. But with true Lewis County Logic, it is , of course, closed on weekends. Go figure.

    And if you are in far-off Kalama for some good antiquing, there is a tiny cafe- it's got Scottish in the name somewhere- that has absolutely fantastic food. Their peanut butter pie is to die for-- and I am not a big fan of peanut butter--. and amazingly good soups. Skip sandwiches and do that heavenly baker proud with dessert.

    The Gibson House is Centralia's stab at a dressy, urban setting. The kind of place you go for busines lunches or anniversaries, etc.

    2 Replies
    1. re: gala

      I really liked the chile rellenos I had two weeks ago at La Tarasca and plan on ordering them again next time I'm there. And everyone on chowhound is right, their tortillas are the best I've ever had.

      If you're in Chehalis, give the Shire a try. They make their own hot sauce, which is really good. Their Voodoo shirmp and catfish dishes are both good.

      1. re: gala

        If I were not so splendidly and happily married, I would set about marrying you immediately. Thank you for the perspicacious explication of your city. We outside (Seattle/Fremont here) can only hope for good intelligence about the layers of your place, and thank you for sharing so many, so generously, and in such exquisitely presented detail. I (hope I) speak for many when I appreciate the inside skinny you offer so generously. Thank you.