Our Epic Trip through Four Chowhound Regions (Pacific NW Board Edition)
Recently a friend and I underwent a roughly 7-day long, 2000-mile excursion around California and Oregon sandwiched around the Labor Day holiday. While the trip was more focused on getting in the sights (a rather ambitious attempt, as we found out), we were going to try our darndest to get in some chowy goodness along the way. I had asked for some advice on a few boards for potential suspects and wanted to report back.
As we found out, timing (and hunger) is a little hard to figure out sometimes, so potential places fell by the wayside, and some places were guesses and/or bows to convenience (or sheer tiredness).
We started off and finished up in the San Francisco Bay Area, but most of our culinary experiences ended up being in Oregon outside of the Portland Metro area, though not necessarily of the restaurant-style variety.
Day 2 (Sunday)
Abby's Legendary Pizza, Klamath Falls, OR - By the time we pulled into here, the sun had pretty much set and we were pretty tired from all the hiking we had done over at Lava Beds across the border. Not surprisingly, the town looked deserted especially with it being Labor Day weekend, and I couldn’t find much the Chow boards to go on prior. Our hotel offered a discount to a local truck stop (Molly’s), but we weren’t exactly feeling that adventurous and investigated a little shopping area near the OIT campus and found this place.
A place that bills itself as "legendary" probably isn’t, but at this late an hour, this combined convenience and potential the best. The pizza was only okay (a Skinny Pizza – Canadian bacon and sliced tomatoes; upon further research, I guess Skinny was one of the founders of this regional chain); a step up from Domino's and that ilk but it served its purpose – it filled our tummies along with some breadsticks (again, merely okay.) We saved the leftovers for breakfast the next day.
Day 3 (Monday)
Matteo's Coffee, Klamath Falls (breakfast) – The leftover Abby’s pizza actually did prove to be better cold and we did scarf down those leftovers pretty quickly. Still, we were still a little hungry and in need of coffee (we had a lot more hiking in store at Crater Lake for the day), and we had spotted this coffee joint real close by Abby’s during last night’s foray.
The folks behind the counter were pretty cheery on this holiday and the standard issue fresh-brewed coffee we got hit the spot – it was brewed just right and went down smoothly. They didn't have a lot of their normal foodstuffs (probably due to the holiday), but from their counter the fudge bar (which looked a bit like a 7-layer bar) stood out as the best option. Our kind person behind the counter said it was much better slightly warmed up and she was right on the mark, with the right amount of gooey, decadent mouth-feel along with graham cracker crunch in each bite. This actually would turn out to be our favorite sweet treat of the trip.
Lunch and dinner for this day was functional – we dipped into our supply of trail mix, lavash, peanut butter and apples during the hikes at Crater Lake. We later got into Bend and were pretty much set on checking into our bed & breakfast, but we gassed up the car and picked up some pre-packaged sandwiches at a Fred Meyer beforehand.
Late Day 3 (Monday) and Breakfast, Day 4 & Day 5 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Cricketwood Bed & Breakfast, Bend - I won't go into too much detail on the non-food aspect of the accommodations (suffice it to say, this is a great place to stay), but their food enhanced our time immensely. Our hosts couldn’t have been more friendly and gracious – first instance of this was when we called in because we were going to miss our check-in time by an hour or so. They knew who we were, and we found out it was so we wouldn't miss their nightly cookies and beverage service. They took our order over the phone (we chose chocolate chip & peanut butter cookies and chai for the beverage) and lo and behold it was there waiting for us once we arrived. These were good, not great cookies, but still a nice treat; the chai, though on the sweet side, was delicious as well. We opted out of the cookies, but tea was there waiting for us as we had requested, even coming back as late as we did.
Breakfast is something you pre-order the night before, with a choice to enjoy the meal in your room or at the communal dining table. The menu was large and customizable by appetite size (the so-called "small" portion sizes were more than filling for both of us, but they have medium and large sizes for bigger eaters.) The only regret for both of us was we only had two mornings there, so some of the more exotic sounding things (the New Orleans Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce or Moroccan Oatmeal) wouldn't get sampled this go-around.
We stuck with a customized omelet with egg substitute the first morning for the protein power (9 miles of Mt. Hood hiking awaited us for the first half of the day) – it made me wonder why I couldn’t get my omelets to look as appealing as theirs. The final morning, I sampled their Baked Apple Pancake (served directly in the iron skillet and quite tasty, though I’d probably go with a larger size next time out) while my partner sampled their French toast (she mentioned how she wished her version, which is already pretty yummy, could taste as good.) Our beverages, from the French-press coffee to the mimosas to the Orange-Julius type smoothie, were also well done.
Just in case guests should get the munchies or get thirsty during non-meal hours, they were well stocked with assorted beer & wine, snacks and other assorted goodies, and they also have plenty of info available (including some menus) on what they consider the culinary jewels of Bend are if you’re at a loss of where to go for dinner or similar.
Lunch, Day 5 (Wednesday)
Village Baker, Bend – Bend has quite a few breweries within its limits as we found out from talking to our B&B hosts, but my friend wanted to do the Deschutes Brewery Tour this time around since they don’t distribute (yet) to her neck of the woods. As the tour didn’t start until 1 PM, however, we wanted to throw something in the stomach before beer consumption and were directed to this general area on the west side of town, and after some scouting, this stood out as something that would probably have some lighter options on the menu.
My friend got a simple veggie sandwich and I opted for the PB&J. The bread was uniformly quite good, and an espresso-chip shortbread I nibbled on on the drive to Eugene later that day was nicely tasty. The real highlight was the two baguette-sized parmesan and cracked-pepper breadsticks that we picked up for our friend who we were staying and having dinner with later that day (more on that later.)
Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR – my friend and I had done the Anchor Steam Tour in San Francisco on one of her prior visits. What was cool about this tour vs. the Anchor Steam tour was the fact you got to take all the pictures you want while on the tour, plus you got bring your samples along if you so desired. At Anchor Steam, the tap and kettle rooms were the only spots available for photos.
Luckily, this tour also coincided with their annual hops shipment for the year; my friend is a hop fiend, and the scent of freshly harvested hops that wafted in the air as we made our way through the interior must’ve been something close to heaven.
Typically you have the option of four samples a piece, or sharing samples of the eight offerings they have on tap – since we still had a drive to Eugene ahead of us, we agreed to share the eight offerings, with my friend (who is the true beer aficionado among us) gladly consuming the larger portion of each.
We liked all eight offerings well enough: being the hop-lover that she is, the Inversion IPA really hit the spot for her. We both loved their Streaking The Quad Belgian Pale Ale, and the Black Butte XXII Porter, with its wild mix of dark chocolate, orange peel and peppers (strictly to be served on tap in Bend only, apparently) proved to be a standout also.
Dinner Day 5 (Wednesday) & Breakfast Day 6 (Thursday)
This was a stay at our friend’s house in Eugene, OR, but we were also had a fortunate delivery here as well – their house is the neighborhood distribution hub for a local CSA. They had just received their shipments for that week, so there were plenty of freshly harvested vegetables and fruit ready for the eating. We had some nicely grilled veggies along with our Village Baker breadsticks that we bought earlier in the day for dinner, and ended up with a plethora of fruit, plus oatmeal and eggs (from their flock of chickens they keep in the backyard) for breakfast. Ahh, if we could eat like this every day…
Eugene City Bakery, Eugene, OR – One thing our friend does NOT do is coffee, but thankfully this place is a short walking distance away. Again, we paid homage to our friend by ordering their Voodoo (freshly brewed coffee with an added shot of espresso – nice and rich once you get used to the strength of the mix) and picked up a huge marionberry scone (somewhat average as scones go) for mutual noshing later in the day once we got to the Oregon Dunes along the southern coast.
ETA: In case you were interesting in reading the earlier or later parts of this journey, here are the other related posts:
SF Bay Area
Portland Metro -
901 SW Simpson Ave, Bend, OR
Abby's Legendary Pizza
2226 Shallock Ave, Klamath Falls, OR 97601
2577 Campus Dr, Klamath Falls, OR 97601
1470 SW Knoll Ave, Bend, OR 97702
Eugene City Bakery
1607 E 19th Ave, Eugene, OR 97403