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Eugene Weekly : Lead Story : 10.6.11

EW’s Back to Campus 2011

No Car? No Problem Living in Eugene sans automobile

Late Night Eats Stuffing face by moonlight

Gourmet Locavorism Eating well at LCC

Q&A: Students on the street

Ducking In Joiners can be choosers

Bass-Ack-Wards The world of collegiate tournament fishing

 

Late Night Eats

Stuffing face by moonlight

By Shannon Finnell

Photo by Trask Bedortha

Here in Eugene, things local are things sacred, and in no area is that gospel more adhered to than in food. Late at night, a lot of mom and pop restaurants are closed; their profit margins wouldn’t survive the staying open late to serve the late-shifters, the stoners, the partygoers and the insomniacs.

An exception to the “late can’t eat local” rule of thumb is Dough Co., which is open until 3 am (except on Sundays), delivers and is located near campus. The combination of sweet cookies with savory calzones isn’t intuitive, but they fulfill two vital, late-night food group categories: pizza and baked goods. Not limited by typical pizza flavors, Dough Co. lists 31 flavors on its menu; so whether a craving calls for cordon bleu, pesto or potato and bacon, the eatery can handle it. Plus calzones are travel-friendly, if you can manage not to drool your sauce of choice all over your shirt. Better yet, don’t wear a shirt. It’s late night.

If you’re feeling more like doughnuts than Dough Co., Voodoo is open 24/7 downtown. This Portland-based spiritual tradition chose Eugene as its third location — and why not? We sometimes need them in the middle of the night, for our glaucoma. On that note, we have to take a moment to endorse — in addition to the classic maple bacon bar — the Old Dirty Bastard (chocolate frosting, Oreos and peanut butter), the Memphis Mafia (banana chunks, cinnamon-sugar, chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts and chocolate chips) and Butterfingering (vanilla frosting and Butterfinger crumbles).

Burrito Boy on Patterson is always open, too, and the Mexican fast-food joint gets packed during the post-drinking weekends. We did a quick survey: None of us can remember going there sober, but we all know we like the wet burritos.

Creatures of the night can also partake in Pita Pit, a chain speckled across the U.S. that’s also open until 3 am and is situated across from the LTD bus station, a convenient walk from the Barmuda Triangle. Less things-that-will-kill-you-oriented than doughnuts or calzones, Pita Pit is an ideal delivery or downtown stop for late nights when inhaling heftier foods isn’t in the cards. 

In addition to these late closers, the Eugene area has a plethora of those all-night diners ubiquitous across the country, completing the American experience. Without places like Shari’s, Denny’s and IHOP, where would the youth of Eugene plan games like Pin the Obscene T-shirt on the Pioneer Mother and How Much Glow Stick Goo Can You Get on the Pioneer Statue Before DPS Catches You (which EW completely discourages playing)?

Open, well, always, the two Eugene, two Springfield and one Corvallis Shari’s locations are built with a distinctive octagonal shape and feature a consistent menu. Denny’s has consistent stuff too, and there’s one each in Eugene and Springfield. The desserts are best at Shari’s, the breakfast is best at IHOP and the I-5 Denny’s combines nonstop coffee and fried food with the awesomeness of knowing you are scarfing your late-night eats where Jack Nicholson once famously bitched the waitress out for refusing to give him a side order of toast in the film Five Easy Pieces

Mostly, late nights at restaurants aren’t all about food, though chomping into a favorite late-night snack certainly muddles that fact for a while. Late nights are about stomach survival, being with friends, and loving life when the rest of the world is dreaming it away.