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Funky WA and OR Restaurants Outside Big Cities (Zillah, Yakima, Bend)?

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timbee Jul 13, 2008 03:49 PM

Hi there,

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?

Thanks!

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    antrobin RE: timbee Jul 13, 2008 06:05 PM

    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.

    1. d
      duck833 RE: timbee Jul 13, 2008 06:13 PM

      Cornucopia Restaurant
      17th & Lincoln

      Funky Eugene place, used to be a neigbhorhood market. Good burgers and a few other items. Bonus only a $3.00 corkage fee.

      1 Reply
      1. re: duck833
        t
        timbee RE: duck833 Jul 14, 2008 12:30 PM

        Definitely going on the list!

      2. d
        duck833 RE: timbee Jul 13, 2008 06:35 PM

        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.

        1 Reply
        1. re: duck833
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          antrobin RE: duck833 Jul 13, 2008 06:51 PM

          Taylor's used to make the best burger in town. Haven't been in a few years. Good hushpuppies and gumbo, too.

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          grayghost RE: timbee Jul 14, 2008 08:49 AM

          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.

          2 Replies
          1. re: grayghost
            t
            timbee RE: grayghost Jul 14, 2008 12:29 PM

            I've heard good things about Old St. Francis School. Thanks!

            1. re: grayghost
              Amecameca RE: grayghost Jul 16, 2008 08:17 PM

              "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).

            2. j
              jpc8015 RE: timbee Jul 14, 2008 09:46 AM

              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.

              1. Freida RE: timbee Jul 14, 2008 10:25 AM

                If you like eccentric, the Ajax Cafe in Port Hadlock (not far from Port Townsend) is completely chock-ful of hats - the diners spend the evening swapping crowns and helmets and wigs, very silly. In Port Townsend, I really like the Otter Crossing Cafe for breakfast, it's down by the marina.

                In Leavenworth, go to South for great Mexican food and an impressive bar, unless you really want to get into the whole Bavarian thing. And you might like the Anjou Bakery on Hwy 2 down past Cashmere, or the Country Boy's Barbecue in Cashmere proper. Actually, you should stop at the Old School BBQ on Hwy 2 near Sultan, by the Reptile Zoo - you get to eat in an old school bus! The food's good, too.

                1. Freida RE: timbee Jul 14, 2008 10:29 AM

                  If you like eccentric, the Ajax Cafe in Port Hadlock (not far from Port Townsend) is completely chock-ful of hats - the diners spend the evening swapping crowns and helmets and wigs, very silly. In Port Townsend, I really like the Otter Crossing Cafe for breakfast, it's down by the marina.

                  In Leavenworth, go to South for great Mexican food and an impressive bar, unless you really want to get into the whole Bavarian thing. And you might like the Anjou Bakery on Hwy 2 down past Cashmere, or the Country Boy's Barbecue in Cashmere proper. Actually, you should stop at the Old School BBQ on Hwy 2 near Sultan, by the Reptile Zoo - you get to eat in an old school bus! The food's good, too.

                  Also, if you're passing through Ellensburg on the way to Yakima, there's the Valley Cafe and the Yellow Church Cafe, both excellent. D&M Coffee used to be in a little gas station on Canyon Road, and another branch in the old Clip&Curl downtown - I don't remember if they're still in business, but they made great coffee. And there's the Winegar's Dairy drive-thru for great milkshakes.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Freida
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                    timbee RE: Freida Jul 14, 2008 12:27 PM

                    Sounds great, Freida. I love the hat place. Sounds fun. And who wouldn't want to eat in a school bus!

                    1. re: timbee
                      j
                      Jbart1016 RE: timbee Jul 18, 2008 04:20 PM

                      Let me second the Ajax Cafe (the hat place :^) - I went there with a group, about 15 of us, several years ago. One of the best memories! Bolstered, or maybe clouded, by several beers though! Really tiny dining room, crazy silly hats, live music, great seafood and totally fun. We ordered a couple of the appetizer sampler platters to start we had some terrific oysters on the half shell. Some of the best I've ever had. Crab, shrimp, clams came too..., by the time dinner arrived... well let's just say I enjoyed it, but couldn't tell you what I had. I've you with a group it's a ready made party, if it's just a few of you get ready to meet some of the locals. It's that kind of place. Hope you get to visit.

                  2. m
                    monicaj RE: timbee Jul 27, 2008 02:24 PM

                    Port Townsend has great restaurants but for funk and unique setting, the Ajax (Port Hadlock) is the greatest. Second up, wonderful food, is the Hudson Point Cafe at the tip of Point Hudson downtown, this restaurant used to be called Otter Crossing. Great chef, lunch and breakfast are fine, amazing views all around. If it is a coolllddd day, go to the Landfall in Point Hudson, they have a woodstove and all the plants are growing out of the floor along the edges of the big dining hall. Good breakfasts.

                    Other good restaurants but not quite full of funk shui (thank you Erin for the term) are TYLER STREET CAFE!!!! real french pastries, tarts, soups, sandwiches with authentic Frenchman at the helm, Silverwater Cafe, Fountain Cafe, Fins, on the water side, and Sirens for music, bayside views and excellent Caesar (no kids, a bar). We do not suffer here.

                    1. e
                      Eat Drink and Be Susan RE: timbee Jul 29, 2008 01:45 PM

                      I just went bike touring along the coast of Oregon and stumbled upon The Columbian Cafe in Astoria. Funky and seemingly packed only with locals, they served me the best breakfast I've ever had outside of home, a surrender-to-the-chef sauteed entree called Mercy Mercy, which included peppers, green tomatoes and, my fave, kale. My husbands blue-cheese fried potatoes were amazing.
                      We live in Ashland so we avoid most of the tourist high-end spots. If you want funky and local, go to Wiley's World on the decidedly non-tourist end of town. All they do is fresh pastas and sauces, but it's awesome. Hippies, but competent foody ones. Don't leave without your very cool Wiley's World magnet Art to put on your car!

                      1. bbqboy RE: timbee Jul 29, 2008 04:16 PM

                        the best dining in Ashland is in Talent. New Sammy's(for lunch 12-2 W-Sun), Arbor House, Inti, Bangkoks Benny all fit your criteria. La Tapatia in Phoenix is a wonderful taqueria/meat market. Jasper's in Medford serves tremendous freshly ground burgers and stuff.

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                          Alfalfa RE: timbee Jul 31, 2008 01:33 PM

                          Don's in Soap Lake is a local favorite and they have themed rooms if you want to stay the night as well. A bit on the eastern Washington tacky side to me, but it is ecclectic for sure.
                          Also Wolf Creek Lodge on the Washington/Idaho border, the best steak I have ever had. Its a old log cabin off the highway by Stateline but is pretty famous.

                          Dave's Dagwods in Ephrata(right on the main drag across from Safeway) is good for a original sammy. Also Rock Park in Ephrata is a trendy little place that is a converted hardwar store(I used to work there in highschool and buil lawn mowers in the basement, the old freight elevator is still there and pretty cool looking) the food is excellent and prices are very resonable.

                          1. w
                            wawinelover RE: timbee May 27, 2009 03:48 PM

                            I don't know how "funky" you might call it, but how about The Valley Cafe in Ellensburg, WA? It's an old diner from the 20's with original bar (beautiful) and stools and lots of Art Deco. It's also good food, good service and features alot of good Washington wines (food and wine reasonably priced).

                            In Walla Walla, you might want to check out the Whitehouse-Crawford. It's more of an upscale place but it's in a 100 year old mill and is beautiful (also good food & wine).

                            Have fun on your trip!

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