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Jul 25, 2010 11:16 PM

Ashland / Oregon Coast itinerary: suggestions?

SF Bay Area hound here, doing some very last-minute planning for a quick trip up to Ashland to catch a play, after which we'll be shooting over to the Oregon Coast for a couple of days. We'd like to eat well, of course, but without breaking the bank account (no more than, say, $75 for two people, with allowance for a splurge or two, but generally keeping most of the meals well below that budget).

We'd like to eat whatever's good in the area, which from what I can gather, is a lot of fresh local seafood. On the other hand, my instinct is to stay away from "ethnic" food--or at least anything that the Bay Area is going to be able to do much better. But please correct me if there's something I shouldn't miss.

Here's the tentative plan:

DAY 1 (Tuesday) - Arrive in Ashland (though we're actually staying in Medford). We'll want to do dinner either in Ashland proper or on the way down from Medford. Don't know know what the parking situation is like in downtown Ashland and whether that ought to sway our plans.

Possible dinner options (before our 8:30 show): Blue - Greek on Granite OR Black Sheep OR Arbor House. Any of those a can't-miss? Or is there somewhere else I ought to be considering? I know New Sammy's gets some love on this board, but unless I'm mistaken, they aren't open on Tuesdays.

DAY 2 (Wednesday) -

Breakfast in Ashland at Morning Glory. (I hate to head backwards, but we loved the one breakfast we had here a year ago, and I haven't seen reports of anything comparable in Medford or westward.)

Drive to Port Orford. (We'll probably skip lunch after Morning Glory, but if anyone has a rec for something light or snacky, we're certainly open to that.)

Dinner at Crazy Norwegian's OR Griff's OR Brenda's Bistro. Don't see a lot of reports on any of these on this board, though I know that Crazy Norwegian's has been mentioned in some magazines for its fish and chips.

DAY 3 (Thursday) - Driving up to Yachats

Breakfast: Is there a someplace in Port Orford where we can pick up some good coffee and breakfast pastries?

Lunch: Mo's (in Florence, on the way up) for chowder. Is this a chow-worthy pick?

Dinner: After checking in to our B&B in Yachats, we'll probably head up to Newport for dinner, stopping to catch some of the sights along the way. I'm trying to decide between Shark's and Local Ocean Seafood, both of which have gotten positive mentions on the board. Local Ocean's menu looks appealing to me; I can't find a menu for Shark's (or much info at all, not even their hours) online. Which one would you go to? This will actually be on our wedding anniversary, so nice ambiance would be a plus, but we'd rather go to a simple place with good, honest food than a "fine dining" option that might not compare favorably to places back home.

DAY 4 (Friday): Breakfast at our B&B, and then we start the long drive home. (Stopping over in Crescent City, CA which is slightly off topic, but if anyone wants to throw me a bone, I certainly won't complain!)

Thanks in advance for your help!

Morning Glory
1149 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland, OR 97520

Arbor House Restaurant
103 W Wagner St, Talent, OR 97540

Crazy Norwegians
259 Sixth St, Port Orford, OR 97465

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  1. Wow, quite a trip, abstractpoet!

    Medford/Ashland: Unfortunately, I don't have much personal experience to offer as my splurge dollars always end up going to New Sammy's when I'm in the area. I've been to Black Sheep (I like it for beer/snack, and it's decent pub food in my recollection), but not the two others you mentioned. I also like Liquid Assets (wine bar with full dinner menu on the north end of town). Parking in central Ashland isn't impossible, but you may end up walking a bit. I've heard good things about Elements (spanish/tapas) in Medford. Also the Ashland Co-op is a great place to fill your cooler with road snacks.

    Since you mention Port Orford, I assume you're planning to go through Merlin and follow the Galice Creek road over to FR 23 and 33? Check out The Riffle on your way through Merlin. It's sort of backwoods coffee shop/Hawaiian, with really awesome pie. Last time I was there I got gooseberry. If you have a meal, I've never been disappointed with a BLT and sweet potato fries.

    Maybe you're already familiar with this route to the coast, but I just want to underscore its remoteness. If you're not a fan of twisty, winding, steep, and one-lane, I would opt for going north to hwy 42. That said, it's absolutely gorgeous. You'll have company out there this time of year with log trucks and rafting companies, but cell service is unlikely. It would be good to have a map with you and not rely on just GPS.

    Port Orford is pretty tiny. People on Trip Advisor seem to like Paradise Cafe for breakfast.

    I think I tried the chowder at Mo's once--good enough. It's a little touristy, but a reliable option on the coast. I wouldn't go out of my way or make it a destination though.

    I grew up in Eureka and live in Portland, so I've spent some time road-tripping this area. My personal strategy is to rely heavily on picnics (back to the Ashland Coop rec). There are more gorgeous viewpoints than you can shake a stick at, but chow-worthy places are relatively scarce.

    1 Reply
    1. re: aplyley

      Hmm...Google Maps wants me to go all the way up I-5 N from Ashland almost to Roseburg, cut across 42, and then back down 101 to Port Orford (where we're staying the second night).

      The alternate route, which would take me through Merlin, is about 20 minutes slower (according to Google's estimates), but much more direct. Besides pie at The Riffle, are there other advantages to taking the smaller/slower road across to the coast? I see that route would take me straight through the Rogue River National Forest.

      In any case, thanks for the Ashland Co-op rec. We'll definitely bring a cooler and load up on snacks for the car-ride over to Port Orford -- if there's no particularly compelling lunch option, that (and maybe a slice of pie to go) should be enough to tide us over until dinner.

      Thanks also for the Paradise Cafe tip. Yelpers seem to like it too. If we can't find a good bakery in town, we'll probably do that for breakfast that morning.

      I'm adding Liquid Assets to my list of dinner options in Ashland--found another positive report on the board after you mentioned it. The menu looks good! The only thing is that it looks like the $12+ small plates could really add up, though it seems not to be a tapas restaurant per se--and the entrees seems reasonable at $18-21. Anything in particular not to miss?

      Reading other threads, I see that Amuse is also mentioned several times, but with some mixed reports. Also, if Chateaulin is still doing its prix-fixe menu, that sounds like it might be a good deal. And another one that gets mentioned is Peerless. Seems like there are a lot of options, but not a lot of specific reports on the board.

      I like driving on twisty and windy roads, but it sounds like it'd be a good idea to keep our night-time driving to a minimum!

    2. I would love some feedback on the Arbor House, in particular. Two positive mentions in this thread:

      But the online menu ( ), with its eclectic "international" options, frightens me. I don't really want to order a curry or jambalaya here do I? Any tips/reassurances?

      Arbor House Restaurant
      103 W Wagner St, Talent, OR 97540

      7 Replies
      1. re: abstractpoet

        Hello , mr. poet. ...
        Are we talking tomorrow, or a week from now?
        The Ashland Farmers Market is on Tuesdays at the new armory on E. Main, if you get here in time.
        As far as Arbor House, I love them, but the vibe is Southern Oregon funky gourmet.
        The curry and jambalaya are excellent, BTW. If you call and ask what they have fresh,
        Leah will cook to your heart's delight.
        I'm a big Peerless fan, (bar or regular menu), or Tease, which is more fun after the play is over. :)
        There are also 38 central and Porter's in Medford proper, both excellent.
        As an alternative to coming back to Ashland on Wednesday, you could go to Artisan Bakery in Medford for food and pastries, Wonderful stuff and good doughnuts.

        Then, cut thru Grants Pass and stop at Kalypsso
        for a Latin American meal that is tops.
        Definitely take the Galice >Gold Beach road above the Scenic Rogue. It will be the highlight of your trip, trust me.
        North of Gold Beach, my friend Tom swears by this
        German and smoked meat place.
        ) Skip Mo's. Really. Any place should have better chowder.
        As far as your return trip, take time to visit Jed Smith State park and the Boy scout trail.
        Tons better than the national parks.

        add: wherever you choose, tell them you are going to Shakespeare.
        If you have never been, you would enjoy the green show before the plays, adjust schedule accordingly....

        Arbor House Restaurant
        103 W Wagner St, Talent, OR 97540

        1. re: bbqboy

          We're talking tomorrow. So yeah, it's definitely a last-minute thing. =) But most of the places we're staying have wi-fi, so I'll try to check this thread a few times to see if anyone else chimes in.

          Great info, bbqboy! For our Ashland dinner, I'm currently deciding between Peerless and Liquid Assets. Any reason why you might strongly prefer one over the other? The Arbor House intrigues me, but I feel like I'm going to have a hard time selling it to my wife, based on the online menu. What is "Southern Oregon funky gourmet"? Would that be similar to NorCal-Berkeley crunchy-hippie gourmet? And yes, wherever we go, we're going to try to do dinner around 5:30, so that we have plenty of time to get to our show (and hopefully catch most of the green show too).

          (Edit: OK, my wife voted against Liquid Assets. So now we're choosing between Peerless and Arbor House. I guess Arbor House sounds more unique / friendlier, so I'm leaning in that direction, but Peerless looks great and has the advantage of being not far from the theater.)

          I'll keep Artisan Bakery in mind as a backup, in case we're running late on Wednesday morning and don't want to backtrack to Ashland. In any case, we'll definitely go the Rogue River Forest route to the coast. Don't know if we'll stop for lunch necessarily that day--might just hit the Ashland Co-op and grab some snacks and picnicky stuff for the day.

          Looks like everyone is kind of lukewarm on Mo' I'm still looking for a lunch spot somewhere between Port Orford and Yachats, preferably closer to Yachats. Though if we do a big breakfast, we might just skip lunch. Anything else noteworthy in Florence or thereabouts?

          Jed Smith State Park and the Boy Scout Trail are definitely on my to-do list!

          Arbor House Restaurant
          103 W Wagner St, Talent, OR 97540

          1. re: abstractpoet

            yeah, skip Arbor House this time.
            I'm not a wine drinker, so can't comment on that aspect of which is superior, but I always take friends from out of town to Peerless. Sit on the Patio-wonderful mixed drinks
            +very inventive and tasty food, entrees or small plates.
            .My friend Debbie swears her breakfast last year
            while staying there was her favorite ever-lemon curd poppyseed pancakes with marionberry syrup. My vote says your wife will like it it at Peerless.
            And don't forget, you can always make a quick stop at Rogue Creamery and pick up some curds on Wednesday. Just sayin'...

            You can park at Peerless on 4th & B or so and just stayed parked there. Walk to the theatres is 3 blocks..

            Arbor House Restaurant
            103 W Wagner St, Talent, OR 97540

            1. re: bbqboy

              We went to Arbor House last week while in Ashland and it was the highlight of our trip. Everything was delicious...the family that made and served our and highly skilled. Wine selection good and help with wine selection excellent. Bruschetta...incredibly fresh and delicious. Snapper and steak were the entrees we selected...wonderful. Several homemade breads were good. The walls lined with pictures of family friends circa 1974...kept seeing old friends there :) Thank you so much for the rec...we had a great time.

              Arbor House Restaurant
              103 W Wagner St, Talent, OR 97540

            2. re: abstractpoet

              AP- Our Boy gave you some great advice. I think your take on Arbor House is right. It isn't anything like NorCal-Berkeley crunchy-hippy. The food isn't as good. I'd do Peerless over Liquid Assets even though I'm a huge LA fan. Sitting outdoors at the Peerless is pretty fine, unless it is too hot. I like the wine list slightly better at LA due to its variety but the quality is good at Peerless. You might be going a bit early if is really a hot day. We're getting some thunderstorms tonight so perhaps our heat has left us for a day or two.
              The pub at the Bandon Golf courses is excellent. It might be too early for lunch, but it is good. Florence doesn't have much going on. I grit my teeth and go to Mo's because the rest of my family likes it.
              The caution you received on the Rogue River road is right. Beautiful road, but just be careful. I run down the Rogue River trail, 42 miles each way, so don't have to put up with the traffic.

              1. re: runninrob

                Peerless it is, then!

                Hmm...maybe we'll do breakfast at the Bandon Golf course pub (The Gallery, right? McKee's Pub is only open for dinner). And then check out the beach at Bandon before continuing northward. We can leave Mo's as an option if we feel hungry at that point; otherwise, just press forward.

                1. re: abstractpoet

                  Peerless is awesome, I hope you enjoy your meal there. We have also been to Chateaulin, Amuse and Liquid Asseets, all places are great. The Winchester Inn is another good place in Ashand. Our past two lunches at Lark's have been excellent, also. Sammy's Cowboy Bistro is a current fave in this area. :)

                  Chateaulin Restaurant
                  50 E Main St, Ashland, OR 97520

                  Winchester Inn
                  35 S 2nd St, Ashland, OR 97520

        2. We're still on the road, but I figured I'd take a moment and report back on the Ashland leg of the trip, which started our vacation off with a bang.

          After reading everyone's recs, we ended up at PEERLESS for our pre-theater meal, and it turned out to be a great pick.

          We ordered a mix of small plates and an entree to share, and everything was very tasty. The "Rogue Blue" salad was your typical mix of greens, apple slices, blue cheese and walnuts, but everything tasted fresh, and we were impressed enough with the creaminess and nuttiness of the Rogue Creamery blue that we swung by their shop in Central Point the next day to grab a small wedge for the road.

          We also shared the lamb meatballs (tasty enough) and the seafood cakes (excellent). But the highlight of the meal, by far, was our entree (the special of the day): an AWESOME piece of halibut, perfectly seasoned and perfectly seared so that the top crisped. This was served a side of delicious walnut gnocchi (also pan-seared to give it nice crisp edges). I don't think it would be too hyperbolic to say that this was one of the best fish entrees we can recall eating in a restaurant.

          Dessert was the only misstep in the whole meal, an ill-conceived raspberry souffle that had an excessively airy and insubstantial texture and that tasted oddly like cotton candy. But overall, an awesome meal and a great start to our trip -- the halibut alone was worth the price of admission. We also loved having our meal out on the patio next to the fountain -- such a wonderfully quaint setting, even when it started drizzling a bit halfway through dinner. The big patio umbrellas kept us dry enough.

          I would consider staying at the Peerless Hotel the next time we're in Ashland, just so we can try the legendary breakfasts everyone keeps talking about.

          (Also, somewhat off topic, "Throne of Blood" is amazing and a must-see.)

          Breakfast the next morning at MORNING GLORY was a great as we remembered (and the portions even bigger!). So we each had a huge omelet AND hash browns (a lot of them!) or pancakes (two big ones!) AND toast or a muffin (homemade marionberry). Everything was good, but what always stands out to me are the omelets themselves, which may be the best I've ever had -- especially the amazing red crab omelet. I don't even LIKE omelets normally, but we liked Morning Glory's so much when we first tried them that we had to come back for more this year. We didn't even bother ordering anything new. =)

          Thanks again, everyone, for your helpful suggestions. I'll try to keep the reports coming!

          Morning Glory
          1149 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland, OR 97520

          Peerless Restaurant
          265 4th St, Ashland, OR 97520

          6 Replies
          1. re: abstractpoet

            Glad you enjoyed Peerless, I would love to stay at the hotel also some day. :)

            1. re: abstractpoet

              Great report! Glad the Peerless took good care of you. One day I'll make the timing work out for Morning Glory, it does sound like it's worth a stop.

              Morning Glory
              1149 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland, OR 97520

              1. re: abstractpoet

                AP, you da man. Thanks for the report. Funny that I never hear of people staying at the Peerless. I think the Rogue Valley Chowhounders took good care of you. I love this board.

                1. re: runninrob

                  By the way, Rob, we tried stopping in for lunch at the Bandon golf resort on our way back down the coast, but both the Pub and the Gallery were closed until dinner time. Which restaurant is the one you like? Is it typical for people who aren't golfing to go there to eat? There was a little bit of an "old boys club" vibe that was a touch intimidating...

                  1. re: abstractpoet

                    Wow, that's strange. It is a very informal place from what I remember. I run rather than golf because I don't like the "old boys club" feel of golf. Running is much more egalitarian. That said, I liked the pub, had food at noon, and wasn't intimidated. Very sorry for the bad advice.

                    1. re: runninrob

                      It wasn't formal per se, but everyone was definitely in full golf attire, and it was all men. Pub wasn't open; the only place that was was a small cafe type area called the Tufted Puffin. Anyway, it probably would have been fine if we had wanted to eat there, but we took a gander and decided to just press on!