Eating Out in Eugene: A Physicist's Guide

Eugene has many, many good restaurants, and the prices are fairly cheap compared to similar restaurants in larger cities. The list below is by no means comprehensive, but are a few suggestions of places that are noteworthy, convenient, or both.

This list is somewhat UO-campus-centric: Restaurants listed in the campus area are an easy walk from campus (duh), and most downtown restaurants (west of campus) are also walkable (some walking can be saved by taking the EmX bus downtown—fee info is here). Other areas are best visited by car. Call to verify hours, as they change often (note that the 541 prefix is required, even when dialing on a local phone).


Breakfast

For a good start, try Studio One Café, which is justifiably popular for their eggs benedict (try the “northern lights”) and their french toast, which comes slathered in almond sauce and berry compote. You can also find a wide selection of pancakes Original Pancake House, a national chain but a good one; the swedish pancakes with lingonberries are interesting, and if you have an hour to kill (and you want to ingest a few thousand calories), order the apple pancake. A true campus institution is the Glenwood Restaurant, which serves breakfasts in the “healthy diner” style, including omelettes, scrambles, pancakes, etc., but all nicely done and reasonably priced. They're a good choice for lunch and dinner too, with a good sandwich selection. All three of these places tend to be crowded, so take this into account before you stagger off to one of them in your morning pre-coffee haze.

One place that deserves special mention is Barry's Espresso Bakery and Deli, a deli in the true New-York style. Their lox and cream cheese on a bialy is incredible. A good place for a quick, simple breakfast (I'm not even quite sure what else they have there for breakfast, since I always order the same thing). Also an excellent choice for lunch, their soups, sandwiches, quiches, cookies, cakes, challah, and everything else are consistently spectacular. Highly recommended.

Barry's Espresso Bakery and Deli
804 E. 12th Ave. (map) 541-343-1141 (northwest campus)
6:30 am-late M-Sa, 10 am-6 pm Su

Glenwood Restaurant
1340 Alder St. (map) 541-687-0355
7 am to 9 pm daily

Original Pancake House
782 E. Broadway Ave. (map) 541-343-7523 (northwest campus)
6 am-2 pm M-F, 6 am-3 pm Sa-Su

Studio One Café
1473 E 19th Ave. (map) 541-342-8596 (southeast campus)
7 am-4 pm daily


Pizza

Pizza in Eugene is often somewhat problematic, with the Northwest focus on unusual toppings, instead of the crust, the pizza's critical foundation. I personally am a pizza purist: regardless of the style, the crust should have excellent, yeasty, long-fermented flavor, a crackling crisp surface, and good chew. In this regard, Sy's New York Pizza has a respectable pie, the medium-thickness kind that's best folded over before being crammed into your mouth for some light protection from the incendiary cheese. They're fast, open late, sell by the slice, and have a Sicilian deep-dish style as well.

Being a purist and pizza minimalist, I usually shudder when strange things like pineapple go cavorting across my slice. Then why do I love Pizza Research Institute, which reigns as the king of put-everything-in-the-produce-section-on-the-pizza? Because masters with a true passion for pizza can get away with damn near anything and make it good. Put yourself in their hands with the “chef's choice” and you may find anything from corn to marinated eggplant to peaches (gasp) on your pizza, but it will all be impeccably fresh, each topping meticulously arranged in its proper place, and astonishingly good. This place tends to be popular, so be prepared to wait for your masterpiece to arrive.

Another popular campus pizza joint that deserves mention is Pegasus Smokehouse Pizza, which is popular for beer and respectible pizza (try the barbecue chicken pizza). This is your best bet for accommodating a large crowd. For similar stuff with a different topology, check out The Dough Co., which has a huge selection of calzones. Good fresh-baked cookies, too.

Eugene's latest foray into pizza nirvana is La Perla Pizzeria Napoletana, founded by Beppe and Gianni (see the Italian section), bringing the superb quality of their Italian restaurant to the pizza world and quickly establishing itself as the premier spot for pizza in Eugene. As far as authentic Neapolitan pizza goes, this is the real McCoy, from the tipo 00 flour in the crust to the house-made fresh mozzerella to the sub-90-second flash cooking in an ultrahot wood oven (reaching 1500°F in the dome) to the grassy, peppery olive oil drizzled over the pizzas afterwards. Real enough, that is, for the owners to seek certification according to the strict rules of Naples, a rare distinction in the U.S. The texture of the thin crust is crisp with a decent chew and a slight char around the edge, enough to leave black smudges on the plate. The flavor of the crust and toppings is incredible. (The toppings are perfectly proportioned, incidentally—no overcheesed or otherwise smothered pizzas here.) Each pizza is about 14” in diameter, enough for one or two, depending on your level of restraint and what else you order. I suggest skipping appetizers and other distractions and focusing on the pizza, which is what they really do well; and look elsewhere for dessert. Be also warned that glasses of wine are served in ordinary bar glasses—I'm not overly uptight about that, but I like to smell my wine, and for their prices I expect proper stemware. But once the pizza hits the table, all foibles are forgiven. Expect this place to be crowded, and the posted closing time of “??” seems to mean 10-11 pm in practice.

The Dough Co.
1337 Hilyard St. (map) 541-485-7459 (west campus)
11 am-3 am daily

La Perla Pizzeria Napoletana
1313 Pearl St. (map) 541-686-1313 (downtown)
11:30 am-?? M-F, 5 pm-?? Sa-Su

Pegasus Smokehouse Pizza
790 E. 14th Ave. (map) 541-344-4471 (west campus)
4 pm-10 pm M, 11:30 am-10 pm Tu, 11:30 am-11 pm W-Fr, 12 pm-11 pm Sa, 12 pm-10 pm Su

Pizza Research Institute
530 Blair Blvd. (map) 541-343-1307 (west downtown)
11:30 am-9:30 pm Su-M, W-Th, 11:30 am-11:30 pm F-Sa

Sy's New York Pizza
1211 Alder St (map), 541-686-9598 (northwest campus)
11 am-midnight Su-Th, 11 am-1 am F-Sa


Asian

First, let me warn you about one of Eugene's dark secrets: chinese food in Eugene can be seriously awful. Seriously awful. It's sad when Panda Express and P. F. Chang's are among the best options available. So don't do it, man. However, if you feel you absolutely must slake your mu shu craving, then Ocean Sky is your best bet for reasonably good food. Also, Kung Fu Bistro is a relative newcomer, and has a reputation for excellent Sichuan food.

By stark but happy contrast, Thai food is plentiful, inexpensive, and almost universally excellent in Eugene. Mekala's is close to campus and pretty good though not especially speedy (try the peanut sauce curry); other good choices around town are Ring of Fire (they pass the “pad thai test” with flying colors) and Tasty Thai kitchen (with excellent white pad thai and pumpkin curry).

Other good Asian options abound as well. Japanese restaurants in Eugene are reasonably good; Sushi Station is a good deal with reasonably decent sushi and many non-raw-fish choices, and even though it's farther out, Izumi Sushi has some of the best sushi in town. For Korean cuisine, Korea House and Cafe Arirang both have friendly owners and a good dolsot bi bim bap. Indian food is rather sparse in Eugene, but Evergreen Indian Restaurant is acceptable and close to campus.

Cafe Arirang
485 E. Broadway (map) 541-302-4542 (west campus)
11 am-9:30 pm Su-Th, closed Sa

Evergreen Indian Restaurant
1525 Franklin Blvd. (map) 541-343-7944 (north campus)
11:30 am-2:30 pm, 5:00 pm-9:30 pm daily

Izumi Sushi and Grill
2773 Shadow View Dr. (map) 541-683-1201 (far north, crescent village)
11:30 am-2 pm and 5-10 pm M-F, 5-10 pm Sa, 5-9pm Su

Korea House
1306 Hilyard St. (map) 541-345-9555 (west campus)
11 am-9 pm M-F

Kung Fu Bistro
2560 Willamette St. (map) 541-968-9258 (south Eugene)
11 am-3 pm, 5 pm-9:30 pm daily except Tu

Mekala's
1769 Franklin Blvd. (map) 541-342-4872 (northeast campus)
11 am-3 pm and 4 pm-9 pm M-Th, 11 am-3 pm and 4 pm-10 pm F, 4 pm-10 pm Sa, 4 pm-9 pm Su

Ocean Sky
1601 Chambers St. (map) 541-342-4848 (west Eugene)
11 am-9:30 pm M, W-Th, closed Tu, 11 am-10:30 pm F, noon-10:30 pm Sa, noon-9:30 pm Su.

Ring of Fire
1099 Chambers St. (map) 541-344-6475 (west Eugene)
11 am-midnight M-Th, 11 am-1 am F-Sa, noon-midnight Su

Sushi Station
199 E. 5th Ave. #7 (map) 541-484-1334 (downtown)
11:30 am-10 pm M-F, 4 pm-10 pm Sa, closed Su

Tasty Thai Kitchen
80 E. 29th Ave. (map) 541-302-6444 (south Eugene)
11 am-9:30 pm Tu-F, noon-9:30 Sa-Su


Continental/Bistro/Eclectic

As in many other cities, this category is by far the hardest hit by the tanking national economy, with the closing of such venerable institutions as Bel Ami, Chanterelle, El Vaquero, and Koho Bistro, and Cafe Zenon; however, Eugene is still blessed by some truly excellent restaurants on the higher end, including Belly, Bruno's Chef's Kitchen, The Restaurant at King Estate Winery, Koho Bistro, and Marché. All have excellent food, top-notch service, nice ambience, good wine lists, and reasonable prices (not cheap, but good for the quality). Their menus rotate constantly, and it's difficult to capture their essences in a few words, so check them out online. However, in general you can expect good braised and roasted meats, fowl, fish, and vegetarian foods rooted in France and Italy but with eclectic nods towards the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia.

There are also good options for more focused international menus. A notable option is Café Soriah, which has an excellent pan-Mediterranean menu; order the prawns or a dessert flambé and you may find the owner himself finishing it for you tableside. Another is Belly Taqueria, a spinoff of Belly (mentioned above), where stunning tacos result from the fusion of “rustic, European farmhouse style” with informal Mexican food.

A more unusually themed restaurant is Agate Alley Laboratory which is big on the mad-scientist angle. With creative, eclectic, and excellent food. The dungeness crab bisque and avocado cheesecake are not to be missed.

Agate Alley Laboratory
2645 Willamette St. (map) 541-653-8653 (south Eugene)
11 am-3pm and 4 pm-midnight T-F, 9 am-3pm and 4 pm-midnight Sa-Su

Belly
30 E. Broadway (map) 541-683-5896 (downtown)
5-9:30 pm T-Th, 5-10:30 pm F-Sa

Belly Taqueria
454 Willamette St. (map) 541-687-8226 (downtown)
5-9 pm T-Th, 5-10 pm F-Sa

Bruno's Chef's Kitchen
3443 Hilyard St. (map) 541-687-2433 (south Eugene)
5 pm-9 pm T-Sa

Café Soriah
384 W 13th Ave. (map) 541-342-4410 (west downtown)
lunch 11 am-2 pm M-F, dinner 5 pm-10 pm Su-Th, 5 pm-11 pm F-Sa

King Estate Winery (The Restaurant and Wine Bar)
80854 Territorial Rd. (map) 541-685-5189 (southwest of Eugene)
11 am-5 pm M-T, 11 am-8 pm W-Su

Koho Bistro
2101 Bailey Hill Rd. (map) 541-681-9335 (far west Eugene)
11 am-2 pm and 5 pm-10 pm T-Th, 11 am-2 pm and 5-11 F, 5 pm-11 pm Sa

Marché
296 East Fifth Ave. (map) 541-342-3612 (downtown, 5th Street Market)
lunch 11:30 am-2:30 pm daily, dinner 5:30 pm-10 pm F-Sa, 5:30 pm-9 pm Su-Th


Italian

The best of the Italian options in Eugene are also spectacular. My preferred gastronomic center in this category is Beppe and Gianni's Trattoria, where everything is done absolutely impeccably. Try any of several pasta frescas or one of the daily risotto, fish, or ravioli specials, but make sure to start with the roasted garlic with cambozola cheese appetizer—warm, comforting, velvety, and intensely flavored, assuming you can tolerate the accompanying arterial clogging—and a bottle of wine. They only take reservations for large parties, so get there by 6 or be prepared for a long wait: this place is popular. Stop at Prince Pücklers across the street (see the Desserts section) for a post-gorging ice cream. It's usually easier to get a table at the Excelsior Inn, and the quality there is also very good. The seasonally changing menu includes soups, pastas, and heavier braised and roasted meat dishes that are consistently excellent.

Beppe and Gianni's Trattoria
1646 E. 19th Ave. (map) 541-683-6661 (southeast campus)
5-10 pm daily

Excelsior Inn
754 E. 13th Ave. (map) 541-342-6963 (west campus)
breakfast 7 am-10 am daily, lunch 11:30 am-2 pm daily, dinner 5 pm-10 pm daily (bistro until 11 pm Su-Th, midnight F-Sa)


Mexican

I'm usually suspicious of Mexican food this far north of the border, and you should be too. In particular, some locally popular hippie renditions of the classic burrito seem uninspired at best. Though the selection here will probably never match what can be found in Austin or Santa Fe, with some judicious choosing, decent Mexican food can be had. El Pato Verde is one of the better choices near campus for lunch and one of the better places to get a fish taco. But even better are their toasted burritos. And the owner is always pleasantly friendly. Burrito Boy Taqueria has better hours and also respectable burritos (especially the wet burritos). One of the best deals in town can be had at Pupuseria Juanita, for great, fresh-made pupusas (masa stuffed with cheese and/or meat, flattened, and grilled) and good tacos. It's a trailer in the parking lot of a convenience store, but the food is excellent (and there are a couple of tables under a tarp to get away from the rain). The best tacos in town are at Belly Taqueria, mentioned above under Continental/Bistro/Eclectic (try the octobelly or the carne adobada taco). A close second can be found farther away at the more authentic Naya's Taqueria; the handmade tortillas on the tacos a mano actually edge out the ones used by Belly, but Belly has the edge on the fillings.

Burrito Boy Taqueria
510 E. Broadway (map) 541-344-8070 (northwest campus)
7 am-11 pm daily

El Pato Verde
682 E. 13th Ave. (map) 541-686-9700 (west campus)
11 am-8 pm M-F, 11 am-4 pm Sa

Naya's Taqueria
1835 Pioneer Pkwy East, Springfield (map) 541-726-8599 (Springfield)
10 am-8 pm Su-Th, 10 am-9 pm F-Sa

Pupuseria Juanita
Near 1st and Jefferson. (map) 541-497-3302 (northwest of downtown)
9 am-8 pm daily


Seafood

Being only an hour away from the Oregon coast, you might expect a plethora of great restaurants specializing in seafood. This is surprisingly not the case. However, decent fish can generally be had at any of the restaurants listed under Continental or Italian. A cheap and “pure” way to enjoy fresh fish is in the form of fish and chips, but this is a dish that is particularly problematic—many joints in Eugene do it, but only a few do it well. Fortunately, two local joints make life-changing fish and chips: Newman's Fish & Chips and Fisherman's Market. Newman's is pretty straightforward: everything you get here except the slaw is deep-fried, and you can get some of the best thick-cut, potatoey french fries anywhere right here. The large, breaded chunks of cod, halibut, and salmon are all good, as are the daily specials, which can include oysters and calamari. The sauces include a horseradish-laced tartar sauce, a shrimp-cocktail sauce, ketchup, and malt vinegar sauce. All seating is outdoors and the line can be long; clever locals call their orders in before they arrive. Fisherman's Market goes towards smaller chunks of fish and criss-cut waffle fries, and more options, including an array of different tartar sauces, dungeness crab, oyster shooters, and other entrees. It is noteworthy that both places can do a masterful salmon-based fish and chips, since salmon when deep-fried by unskilled hands can be quite nasty (here it's light and perfectly cooked).

Fisherman's Market
830 W. 7th Ave. (map) 541-484-CRAB (west downtown)
11 am-8 pm daily

Newman's Fish & Chips
1545 Willamette St. (map) 541-344-2371 (south downtown)
11 am-7 pm M-F, 11 am-6:30 pm Sa


Comfort Food

Comforting, anyway, until after you ingest excessive quantities of it. Papa's Soul Food Kitchen is a famous local joint for its barbecue (pulled pork, brisket, ribs, chicken), cajun specialties (jambalaya, gumbo), southern catfish and snapper, and any side you can think of to go with them. Great stuff. They have desserts, but keep in mind that Sweet Life (see the Desserts section) is within staggering distance. Straight barbecue joints have been turning over rapidly over the past few years, but the current best choice is Bill & Tim's Barbecue. It is not exactly authentic, but the food is excellent. Try the tri-tip (a nontraditional take on the otherwise obligatory brisket) or pulled pork, and the sides are also good, if a bit quirky.

Bill & Tim's Barbecue
201 E. 13th Ave. (map) 541-359-1361 (west campus/SE downtown)
11 am-9 pm Su-Th, 11 am-10 pm F-Sa

Papa's Soul Food Kitchen
400 Blair Blvd. (map) 541-342-7500 (northwest downtown)
12-2 and 5-10 T-F, 2-10 Sa, closed Su-M


Quintissential Eugene

Eugene has its own distinct, hippie/counterculture personality, sparked by Ken Kesey's presence beginning in the 60's. This influence pervades numerous restaurants in Eugene. Café Yumm! (a Eugene chain) is one of the more unique restaurants in this vein. Their signature is the Yumm! bowl, which comes in a number of variations but at its core is a rice bowl with cheese, beans, salsa, sour cream, avocados, olives, and other good stuff, plus the aptly named Yumm! sauce—a mysterious but tangy and tasty tan concoction that somehow pulls everything together into something wonderful. Cornucopia is arguably the place to go for a beer and a burger. The burgers feature local, high-quality, grass-fed beef (from Knee Deep Cattle Co.), and the crispy fries are also among the best in town. Go during the summer to enjoy the cooling evening out on the back patio.

On the sweeter side, there is Off the Waffle, which serves authentic Liége waffles (Belgian street waffles), which are dense, yeasty, caramelized, and probably unlike any waffle you've had before. They can be had with a variety of toppings, ranging from bacon and eggs, to various combinations involving hazelnuts, cardamom, chocolate, kiwi fruit, and many more. But they're stunningly good on their own. They fall in a funny regime of not quite a meal, and not quite dessert, but you need to find some time to try these. Seriously. Voodoo Doughnut is a Portland institution that recently spread to Eugene, and offers some of the best and most entertaining doughnuts anywhere. Doughnut highlights include: voodoo doll (with a toothy voodoo expression and raspberry blood), bacon–maple bar (yes, topped with bacon), doughuts coated in cocoa puffs or fruit loops, Tex-ass sized doughnuts, phallic doughnuts, and French crullers made the right way (with a light, airy pâte à choux). Good for those late-night carb cravings.

Café Yumm!
730 East Broadway (map) 541-344-9866 (northwest campus)
10 am-9 pm daily

Cornucopia
295 West 17th Ave, at Lincoln (map) 541-485-2300 (downtown/south Eugene)
8 am-10 pm daily

Off the Waffle
840 Willamette St. (map) 541-654-4138 (downtown)
7 am-9 pm Su-Th, 7 am-12 am F-Sa

Voodoo Doughnut
20 E Broadway, at Willamette (map) 541-868-8666 (downtown)
24 hours Th-Su, 6 am-midnight M-W


Dessert

Any of the Continental or Italian places will have an impressive dessert selection; Café Zenon and the Excelsior Inn (try the chocolate pot de creme) are particularly good. Or check out Off the Waffle in the “Quintissential Eugene” section. However, there are two dessert specialists you should know about. Prince Pücklers is a popular stop for ice cream—on summer evenings, the line is often out the door. They make their own ice creams, and they're great: the fruit flavors actually taste like fruit, and their chocolate flavors are intensely good. Speaking of chocolate, you can gild the lily by having them pour locally-produced Euphoria chocolate sauce (ask for it by name) over the top. Let me emphasize that you need to try this sauce. A good stop after dinner at Beppe and Gianni's.

Sweet Life Patisserie has a big selection of desserts, including gelati, pies, cakes, and cheesecakes. The fresh berry tart in summertime is devastatingly good (this is the land of berry abundance, after all), but all the desserts are excellent. Many vegan-friendly options as well (you wouldn't know they were vegan if they didn't tell you, so don't shy away from them).

Prince Pücklers
1605 E 19th Ave (map) 541-344-4418 (southeast campus)
noon-11 pm daily

Sweet Life Patisserie
755 Monroe St. (map) 541-683-5676 (west downtown)
7 am-11 pm M-F, 8 am-11 pm Sa-Su


Beer/Pub Food/Nightcap/Music

The Pacific Northwest is a region with a long microbrew tradition, and Eugene is a good place for microbrew fans. McMenamins is a famous northwest chain with interesting atmosphere and good northwest-style pub food. They brew a variety of beers, make a number of good wines, and distill their own brandy and gin! There are three Eugene locations: McMenamins East 19th Street Café is near campus and has pool tables; McMenamins High Street Brewery and Café is also near campus and has more outdoor seating; and McMenamins North Bank is the nicest for sitting outdoors, with a pleasant river view (you can in principle walk there from UO campus by heading west on the river bike path north of Franklin Blvd., though most locals would just drive there). Another upscale, northwest-style pub is the Eugene City Brewery, part of the Rogue Ales chain based in Newport, Oregon. Their impressive menu (basically bar food on steroids—the Kobe beef burger is transcendent) and huge selection of beers, including the famous Dead Guy Ale (not to mention distilled spirits), make this a very worthwhile stop. A more comfort-food-oriented bar with plenty of character and a good microbrew selection is the Horsehead BBQ, which has tasty items ranging from huge piles of ribs to great fries to collard greens and mac and cheese. For the largest selection of beers in Eugene The Bier Stein wins hands down, with 10 beers on tap, and many, many bottled beers. Good food, too—mostly sandwiches, and anything on the menu involving beer and cheese heated and mixed together is bound to be good.

As far as the live-music scene goes, a good venue with more eclectic music and also reasonably priced, good (vaguely) Italian food is the Oak Street Speakeasy, which is a bit harder to find (look for Prohibition-era-costumed people hanging out near a stairwell at the corner of Oak and Broadway). Another interesting venue with good food, microbrews, mead, and a variety of live music is the venerable Sam Bond's Garage, very much a place with local Eugene color. See also Papa's Soul Food Kitchen in the Comfort Food section; they have regular live blues shows.

If noisier nightclub-type places are your thing, you may want to check out Diablo's Downtown Lounge. New Max's Tavern is also an interesting bar as the inspiration for Moe's Tavern on The Simpsons. On the way there you can walk by the Pioneer statue (on 13th just west of the EMU), which is supposedly the inspiration for the statue of Jebediah Springfield.

The Bier Stein
345 E 11th Ave. (map) 541-485-2437 (west campus)
11 am-11 pm M-Sa, 4 pm-11 pm Su

Diablo's Downtown Lounge
959 Pearl St. (map) 541-343-2346 (downtown)
11 am-2:30 am M-F, 1 pm-2:30 am Sa-Su

Eugene City Brewery
844 Olive St. (map) 541-345-4155 (downtown)
11 am-11 pm Su-Th, 11 am-midnight F-Sa

Horsehead BBQ
99 W. Broadway (map) 541-683-3154 (downtown)
11:30 am-2 am daily

McMenamins East 19th Street Café
1485 E. 19th Ave. (map) 541-342-4025 (southeast campus)
11 am-1 am M-Sa, noon-midnight Su

McMenamins High Street Brewery and Café
1243 High Street (map) 541-345-4905 (west campus)
11 am-1 am M-Sa, noon-midnight Su

McMenamins North Bank
22 Club Rd. (map) 541-343-5622 (north of campus/downtown)
11 am-11 pm M-Th, 11 am-midnight F-Sa, noon-11 pm Su

New Max's Tavern
550 East 13th Avenue (map) 541-349-8986 (west campus)
1 pm-2:30 pm daily

Oak Street Speakeasy
915 Oak St. (basement at SW corner of Broadway and Oak). (map) 541-284-4000 (downtown)
11 am-2 am M-F, 4 pm-2 am Sa

Sam Bond's Garage
407 Blair Blvd. (map) 541-431-6603 (west downtown area)
4 pm-late daily


(updated 3/31/14)