Best of Eugene 2009-2010: Staff Picks
best place to waste time playing with bendys and reading trixie belden books
Ever want to revisit childhood … erm, we mean buy toys, games, books and more for the children in your life? Elephant’s Trunk provides hours of options. Even if you’re just looking for a game for a 6-year-old, you might while away the hours ignoring the ankle-biters in the store as you gaze, rapt, into the eyes of that Ugly you’ve been coveting. The book selection makes it, like the Kiva, a little indie bookstore of its own, and boy howdy does Elephant’s Trunk have stickers. And bugcatchers, volcano kits, boxes of crafty gifts (hello again, friendship bracelets!) … the list goes on. Just remember that you’re an adult, and if it all gets too overwhelmingly nostalgic, neighboring LaVelle’s will provide you with a nice glass or two of recovery juice. Elephant’s Trunk, Fifth Street Public Market; 342-8548.
best fire-fighters in this end of the valley
Paul Holvey in the Oregon House, Floyd Prozanski in the Senate, Charlie Tebbutt and Dan Galpern at the Western Environmental Law Center fought back ag interests to finally snuff out field burning.
best twitter accounts to follow if you need more kittehs and pups
Trying to go no-kill means getting the word out about cats and dogs in need of foster care and adoption, and there’s no better animal Twitterer than the volunteer who runs the Lane County Animal Shelter account (twitter.com/lanecoanimals). Photos of the OMG LUV! CUTE! animals pop up at every hour of the night and day, and we enjoy retweeting those pix. But we don’t want to neglect Greenhill (twitter.com/greenhillhumane), whose Twitterers have helped some of us get several feral cats caught and spayed.
best pepperoncini vendor
Not exactly new, but with new-ish stuff, is Kiva. After the Broadway turned into a rarely open wine shop, Eugene Weekly staff began wandering downtown like herds of little lost bunnies in search of edible raw vegetables. Sure, we could have bought burritos-without-wraps and picked the tomatoes and lettuce out of the beans and cheese, but unless we had time to get all the way to the stunning salad selection of Park Street Café, we were pretty much stuck. When the Kiva started offering salads (a process still in flux) on weekdays, we rejoiced. And when busy deli staff very occasionally forget our dressing (or, one memorable day, our tuna salad), they always remember and make it right the next time. Happy bunnies. 125 W. 11th Ave.; 342-8666. www.kivagrocery.com
best bar to avoid a cover and duck the hipster glitterati
Tiny Tavern — also endearingly known as the “Jiny Javern,” or simply the Jiny — sits on the corner of Fourth and Blair like a drunken, redheaded stepchild amidst the more trendsetting establishments at the heart of the Whiteaker. A vestige of old-school Northwest blue-collar blues and as classless, rechérché and beautifully down-at-the-heels as Mos Eisley Space Port, the Jiny can be a gust of fresh beer breath when you just don’t want to deal with anything but getting loaded and having an unwashed good time. Not that the Jiny ain’t cool — but it’s cool in an unselfconscious, unconditional, downbeat way that is all too rare these days. It is the Nirvana to Sam Bond’s Pearl Jam. Tiny Tavern, 394 Blair Blvd.; 687-8383. www.myspace.com/tinytavern
best place to be accosted by satanists
On Washington Street between 5th and 6th avenues. Arm yourself with garlic, white cats, virgins, silver bullets and other anti-darkness weapons, set up a chair and wait. They will come.
best-kept cocktail secret
Word is starting to get around about The Rabbit: If you haven’t eaten there, you really should. But you should also make time in your busy socializing and drinking schedule to go by just for the cocktails. Bartender Amy Hand has a fantastic drink list that sets classic flavors next to new concoctions that shift with the seasons and change according to what Hand is making at any given time — house-made infusions and creations include fig bourbon (which makes for a fantastic old-fashioned), apple bitters, grapefruit soda, coffee liqueur and more. Hand says she likes “to make up things no one’s ever had before.” Her current favorite is the Harmony, which mixes gold rum, apple cider, beet juice and lime; a previous favorite involved black pepper, rhubarb, simple syrup and gin (that’s one’s out of production as rhubarb is out of season). “I think about the food that we serve and how complementary the flavors are that Gabe [Chef Gabriel Gil] does, and I want to continue that experience for peope who want to have a cocktail with their dinner,” Hand explains. As the weather cools, look for apple and fig flavors to crop up on the menu along with a few more hot drinks. And get there early for happy hour (4:30-6:30 pm weekdays, in the bar only): with a $2 cone of fries and $5 cocktails, you can delight your palate without breaking the bank. The Rabbit Bistro & Bar, 2864 Willamette; 343-8226.
best way to cook fish
Don’t bother with cookbooks or the internet. Just ask Mary Lou Shuler at Newman’s Fish Company. She knows, and she’ll share her secrets. Newman’s Fish Company, 1545 Willamette St.; 344-2371. www.newmansfish.com
most confusing piece of recently installed new technology
The new coin-op bus pass dispenser for the EMX bus route — an atavistic green doohickey that looks like a midget Sani-can from the era of Logan’s Run — is easily the most foolish, fucked-up, time-wasting and utterly maddening hunk of junk foisted on an already beleaguered public by a metro authority. First off, the formerly free bus ride from Eugene to Springfield (like that old dope dealer con, “Hey, first one’s on me”) now costs $1.50 one way, a crappy enough development during these economic end times. But add to this bureaucratic insult a baffling, slow-moving system that, in every regard, is insidious, indecipherable and eats quarters like cops eat donuts — it’s all just way too much. Never has something with less than six buttons been such an aggravating SNAFU.
best place for a café yumm!
Downtown. Please? Somebody? Anybody? There’s got to be a storefront into which a Yumm! could go. Even just takeout. Anything. We’re desperate here. Sure, the Meridian Yumm! isn’t that far from the EW office, but it’s hard to work up the wherewithal to walk there on Eugene’s colder, damper days. We bemoan the lack of a downtown Yumm! about once a week. No joke. It’s the Yumm! Sauce. There’s got to be a mysterious addictive ingredient in that stuff.
best oxymoronically named vet clinic
So LeGarrette Blount walks into a bar… Sociological studies have shown that any joke is made 10 times funnier by plopping a duck in it, a bit of advice not lost on the saintly folks who run City Center Cat & Bird Clinic. Cat and bird? Brings to mind such biologically adversarial relationships as oil and water, liberal and conservative or, more cartoonishly apropos, Sylvester & Tweety Bird. And yet, on any given day, you can stroll into the clinic and see a gimpy duck and lethargic cat sitting patiently, and peacefully, in the same waiting room. For those who do indeed desire to see the lion lay down with the lamb — and for anyone who loves her cat, or bird, more than life itself — this is the place to go. City Center Cat & Bird Clinic, 354 W. 6th Ave; 343-8531.
best new coffeehouse we wish were open later
Vero has so much going for it, from the heavy, comfortable furniture to the coffee itself. But ... we always want more. We want to be able to go there after work to, um, work on stuff, curling into a comfy chair with a book or settling in with a laptop. It closes so early. We know not everyone wants coffee after 6 pm, but we want — we really want! — more cafés that are open late. Like, until 10 or 11 pm late. There are only so many seats at the Beanery and One Cup. Vero Espresso House, 205 E. 14th Ave.; 654-0504.
best guilt-free quick mart
With its yin-yang collision of unrepentant 7-11 crap and dogmatic health foody-ism, the New Frontier Market on 8th and Van Buren brilliantly caters to the very worst and very best in our collective nature, as conspicuous and conscientious consumers, respectively. Where else can you grab, all in one five-minute stroll, a pack of cigarettes, a four-dollar bottle of wine and a frozen Frisbee of Totina’s pizza, along with some organically grown local produce, an aromatic stick of Nag Champa and a bottle of enhanced acidophilus milk? Dr. Bronner’s and Dr. Pepper, Karl Marx and Adam Smith, all frolicking within arm’s reach: It’s the American Dream made manifest, an earthly realm of guilt-free bargain hunting where flax seed oil and Necco wafers live in perfect symbiosis and happy harmony. New Frontier Market, 1101 W. 8th Ave.; 345-7401.
best place to take little tykes fishing
The Canoe Canal in Alton Baker Park is stocked often with legal-sized trout, and even steelhead sometimes find their way up the canal. Fish from the bank with worms and bobbers, or paddle up the canal and hang out with the blue herons.
best european licorice source
Regular black licorice pales in comparison to that from Australia, black and spicy. Even better for fans is the Northern European stuff, which can only be described as perverse: salty, medicinal, even sour with salmiak or powdered ammonium chloride. Sunrise Market carries several varieties. Sunrise Market, 70 W. 29th Ave.; 343-3295. www.sunriseasianfood.com
best place to find sober students on campus after the bars close
OK, it’s been hit by the recession and general daily print woes. OK, other kids at the J-School make fun of it (especially when they don’t make the staff). OK, they went on strike last year for more student control (which, wait, was actually pretty interesting). But late night at the Oregon Daily Emerald offices at the tippy-top of the Erb Memorial Union, a hive of news production thrives — and if what we read on Twitter and Facebook is true, it’s mostly fueled by caffeine and a burning desire to make the world safe for democracy. Especially if it’s ASUO-style. Kudos, y’all.
best saturdays in eugene
Home football games. With all the yahoo footballers bottled in the stadium or glued to the tube, it’s amazing how nice, quiet, crowdless and considerate that leaves the rest of the city.
best place to hug trees
Please. This is Eugene. We’ve got street trees, BLM trees, private trees, big trees, little trees. We’ve even got palm trees. We’re crawling with trees. Take your pick and go get your hug on.
best thing ever built in eugene
The riverfront bike system. Five bike bridges and miles and miles and miles of scenic, car free riverfront winding right through the middle of town make it hard to beat. In minutes downtown workers can take a lunch ride and see osprey, egrets, heron, geese, ducks, beaver dams and turtles while spinning carefree along a wild-looking river. Bike commuters can use the scenic system to zip into town. Tourists love it. With the new path through the restored Delta Ponds, new bike bridge connection being built over the freeway to north Eugene and plans and hopes to extend the bike path all the way to Mount Pisgah, the riverfront trails just keep getting better.
best sit-and-think spot
At the picnic bench above the parking lot at Skinner’s Butte. With the city sprawled below you and nature behind you, thoughts fly fast and furious. Unless, of course, the usual Sunday group of drunken cyclists has beat you there. Then you should probably leave and resolve to not think as much.
best irreverent way to remember the hard to pronounce and harder to spell name of the new UO president