Funky WA and OR Restaurants Outside Big Cities (Zillah, Yakima, Bend)?
I'm going on a driving tour of Washington and Oregon and am looking for cool, funky, eccentric places along the way. (I prefer a converted gas station with antiques hanging from the ceiling and Elvis Margaritas to, say, Quizno's.)
I have plenty of cool-and-crazy-sounding recommendations in Seattle and Portland, but I'm looking for places along the way in small cities like Ashland, Eugene, Bend, Jacksonville, Leavenworth, Port Townsend, Walla Walla, and those kinds of places.
I know it's a bit broad, but if maybe if you live in or near one of these smaller towns, you could give me a suggestion or two to keep out of McDonald's?
Well, sad to say--Eugene doesn't really have much in the way of good food. However, there are a few places that will do in a pinch. Papa's Soul Food Kitchen used to be good, though lately they've been slipping. Might be worth a try.
Casablanca in the 5th St. Public Market does pretty good Lebanese.
In Springfield, there is a constantly changing array of taco trucks and trailers--most of these are pretty decent. Also very good is Burrito Girl, a trailer serving very good, authentic tacos and pupusas. She moves around but was last sighted at the far end of West 11th, close to Wal-Mart and Target.
For pretty decent Thai, Chao Pra Ya in the Whiteaker neighborhood is all right. Lucky Noodle, located across from the 5th street market does serviceable pasta, both Italian and Thai style.
Red Agave is an upscale Mexicanish place by the train station.
Sliders at the Jackalope Lounge, and generally, all their bar food is pretty decent.
Very very good pizza can be had at La Perla at 13th and Pearl.
For a Eugene tavern experience you might hit Taylor's. On 13th right next to campus. I drank there over 35 years ago and it is still going strong. Bar food is not bad and sitting outside tossing a few down while cute co-ed's walk by is not a bad way to pass the time.
For good beer I like Steelhead and Eugene City Brewery. Good local beer and good bar food.
If you find yourself well out east in OR (you did mention Walla Walla, WA), some of my must-stop places include: Terminal Gravity Brewery in Enterprise--surely the most scenery-laden microbrewery in OR and home of the best IPA (as judged by the Oregonian a few years ago). In La Grande, Foley Station is great. . .breakfast or dinner, but check open hours. In Pendleton, try the wine store (I forgot the name) downtown for lunch and an eclectic beer stash, and Rafael's for dinner. Baldwin Saloon in The Dalles is great; Stonehedge in Hood River (dinner); Walking Man Brewery across the river in Stevenson, WA. Bend is getting strip-malled to death--but if you want a thoroughly Northwest experience, I suggest the massive new Mcmenamin's there, Old St. Francis School; for Mexican, long-standing tiny little Taqueria los Jalepenos on the east side on the way toward Pilot Butte. Going to be through Salem, the cousine-challenged capital city? Look up Morton's Bistro for dinner. . .absolutely worth the time and money--you gotta love a place in business for 20 years where the wine "list" is just a couple shelves full of wine for you to peruse. For lunch, go downtown to Wild Pear.
"Salem, the cousine-challenged capital"
Everyone (including the spelling-challenged) says this about Salem, but it's less true than you may think. If you would like to visit our fair city and discover something "cool, funky, eccentric" you should not go to Morton's which is an upscale "fine dining" establishment. Instead, you should try:
Off Center Cafe 1741 Center St
Great old 60s hippie diner for breakfast or lunch.
Jr's Tacqueria 1705 Winter St. NE
Very authentic Michoacan-style Mexican food made from scratch.
Thai Beer Restaurant 1130 Lancaster Dr
You gotta love the name, and the food is very good too.
Court Street Dairy Lunch 347 Court St
A downtown Salem tradition since the 20's for breakfast or lunch (weekdays only).
If you're in Seattle hop on the fery and go to either Bainbridge Island or Bremerton. Bainbridge offers some very nice dining experiences that you won't find anywhere else and they are within walking distance of the Bainbridge ferry terminal for the most part. Bremerton offers food that is a bit more low key. There is a great sub shop in the Mannette neighborhood, and a great burrito place right by the ferry.