CiderliciousPhoto by Todd Cooper

Staff Picks 

Best Place to Drink Ciders

Ciderlicious 675 River Road. Facebook.com/Ciderlicious.

Have you ever been to beergarden and wondered what it would be like if there were a similar place for cider lovers? 

With 20 ciders on tap, Ciderlicious fulfills that dream. Ciderlicious food truck owner Randy Nelson says he likes to have a range of flavors for customers to taste the cider spectrum — from dry to sweet, he wants people to experience all that ciders can offer. 

“We’re excited about ciders,” he says. “We want to share that ciders aren’t all Ace pineapple — there’s so much more that.” 

That’s not a dig at Ace. Ciderlicious does carry that popular cider but also offers Pacific Northwest ciders that give customers a chance to taste local cider makers and the region’s agricultural produce.  

Nothing goes better with alcohol than food, and Ciderlicious has four food trucks parked at its River Road location. Nelson says he works with newer food cart owners who are looking to establish themselves and expand their base. 

“We work together as small entrepreneurs,” he adds. 

Currently Ciderlicious is home to the following: Easley Does It, which servers tacos, elotes and tortas; Nosh Shop, known for its Scotch eggs; Aurora Café Cheese Bliss has a menu specializing in grilled cheese sandwiches; and Tostones Authentic Caribbean Cuisine, the go-to place for a Cuban sandwich. 

There are downfalls to an outdoor cider garden. We live in an area where rain is in the forecast for most of the year, but the Ciderlicious patio is heated and covered.

And every time I’ve been to Ciderlicious, someone in the parking lot helps you find a spot. That’s the sort of top-tier service Eugene needs. — Henry Houston 

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Pegasus Pizza

Photo by Todd Cooper

Best Gluten-Free Pizza

Pegasus Pizza 790 E. 14th Avenue. 541-344-4471. 4 Oakway Center. 541-344-0844. 2864 Willamette Street. 541-344-9931. PegasusPizza.net.

Pegasus Pizza was the first restaurant I ate at in Eugene. The University of Oregon’s International Studies graduate program invited me to tour the campus and meet faculty, but it may have been the beer and pizza that made me move up here. 

In the years since, I’ve explored my fair share of pizza places, but ever since my girlfriend was diagnosed with celiac disease, I’ve become more acquainted with looking for gluten-free menus — not just gluten-free but celiac-friendly, because just a trace of wheat can wreak havoc.

Out of all of the gluten-free pizzas I’ve eaten — frozen and fresh — none stand up to Pegasus Pizza. 

The Pegasus gluten-free pizza doesn’t have the consistency of cardboard, a common experience in the gluten-free world. Instead, the crust has a tad of fluff to it and isn’t an overcooked rock. With an addition of $4 for a 12-inch pizza, going gluten-free leaves enough money to leave a healthy tip.

Once you have that crust free of the evils of wheat, you’re able to explore either Pegasus’ curated menu items, which vary from a bunch of veggies to quality meats to the dreaded pineapple.

Unlike so many pizza places, Pegasus isn’t a greasy mess. Plus, the manager at the South Eugene location, who I happen to know, has a killer mustache. — Henry Houston

Best Downtown

Springfield DiscoverDowntownSpringfield.org.

Sorry, Eugene, but Springfield’s downtown is now the cool place to be. The area has antique stores (Trash & Treasure has a good collection of Star Wars toys), places to grab a drink and people watch, and restaurants that never disappoint.

From Mill to 8th, Springfield’s Main Street has enough character to inspire you to park the car and walk around.  

And it seems like every day Main Street is attracting a new business. Recently, Swallowtail Spirits — whose gin is the best I’ve ever had — held a grand opening party for its new location on Mill and Main.

And Eugene-based restaurants have been opening new locations along Springfield’s Main Street. Earlier this year, Cornbread Café opened a location downtown and Cornucopia just opened a Springfield location. 

Since Springfield likes public art, Main Street has its own growing number of murals. But these have been mostly The Simpsons-related: a mural of Lisa Simpson with a lamb is outside Bright Oak Meats, Groundskeeper Willie is at Off Kilter Koffee and Krusty the Clown is along South A Street.

That might not be considered art to some connoisseurs, but any city that embraces The Simpsons is my kind of place. — Henry Houston

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Avocado Toast from Party on Friendly

Photo by Todd Cooper

Best Avocado Toast Millennials can mortgage their future for

Party on Friendly 2757 Friendly Street. 541-683-2079. PartyEugene.com.

Millennials of Eugene unite: Party on Friendly inside Friendly Street Market is the place to get your avocado toast. 

Now, this isn’t a little sliver of avocado and salt and pepper on some Franz bread — this is the real thing. Party on Friendly’s avocado toast is a massive slice of sourdough, which is a pillowy tangy cloud. Party then spreads on what seems like two whole avocados that are never brown or hard but, instead, soft, creamy and green. Then the place adds some pickled shallots, a savory addition to the creamy avocado, and red flakes that kick up the spice. 

If you need a little more protein, you can upgrade and add a soft-boiled egg. Or if you need to add some more hotness, Party on Friendly has a selection of seasonal house-made hot sauces — such as a plum habanero or banana pepper.

This is the sort of meal millennials are OK about mortgaging their future for. — Henry Houston

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Hot Mama’s Wings

Photo by Todd Cooper

Best Hot Wings from chicken Heaven

Hot Mama’s Wings 420 W. 13th Avenue. 541-653-9999, HotMamasWings.com.

For its size, Eugene-Springfield comes up big on wing joints. Hot Mama’s Wings offers a wing saucy enough to stand out from the competition. I don’t mean to say the others don’t have great hot wings — every wing, whether meat or vegetarian, is sacred.

But Hot Mama’s Wings’ sauces and rubs allow you to eat the wings your taste buds are yearning for. 

As someone who loves spicy foods, Hot Mama’s hotter wings don’t go for shock value; the sauce has body and soul, so you’re not just eating an overwhelmingly spicy wing that should be on YouTube’s Hot Ones.

And Hot Mama’s doesn’t half-ass their wings. They aren’t overcooked; each bite reveals tender meat, and somehow they’ve found some of the thickest wings on the market — does Hot Mama’s have a supplier who buys from chicken heaven? 

Plus, one of the servers at Hot Mama’s always understands my pro wrestling shirts — if you can recognize “Macho Man” Randy Savage or the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, that’ll make me a return customer. — Henry Houston

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Spice N’ Steam

Photo by Todd Cooper

Best Hong Kong Style Food

 Spice N’ Steam 165 W. 11th. 541-654-0338. SpiceNSteamOR.com.

I’ve been to Hong Kong a few times, and with all the social upheaval portrayed in the news recently I find that a restaurant like Spice n’ Steam carries the heart and culture of traditional Hong Kong food. 

Eating freshly steamed pork buns and glazed cooked chicken feet transports me out of Eugene and into a restaurant off Hong Kong’s busy, muggy streets. As I don’t speak Cantonese, I admit that I don’t know the correct name for every type of dim sum. But I do know that whether the dumpling is filled with meat or vegetables or red bean ensures it tastes just as good. 

For even more comfort, this is a great place to grab a bowl of congee hot and sour soup (I usually splash in a few drops of vinegar to combat the spice). 

Hungry for dessert? Try a classic Hong Kong egg-tart, a small — usually bite-sized — flaky custard pie. They are best served warm, and Spice n’ Steam doesn’t disappoint on that front either.

I have come to believe that there is a true connection to culture when eating food that feels authentic to its original culture, and that is the experience at Spice n’ Steam. — Taylor Perse

Best (and Only) Rooftop Bar

SkyBar 333 Oakway Road. 541-343-9333. Facebook.com/SkyBarEugene.

The SkyBar at the Hyatt hotel is one of those chic places to eat and drink at when you want a fancy summer evening in Eugene. I know we are moving through fall and soon it will be winter, but this is a place to look forward to, and it saves a lengthy trip to go to a rooftop bar in Portland.

It’s the perfect location to hang out for an evening if you want to watch the sunset over the trees while watching the city’s lights turn on. Take a seat with a view of Spencer Butte or Oakway Center below and grab a drink — or some food.

It’s also a great place for first dates or friend dates. Its suitable for long conversations, drink refills and slowly watching the sunset. I tried a huckleberry spritz and the drink tastes as fresh as it sounds. It felt like a big-city experience without having to leave quirky, beautiful Eugene. 

The rooftop area itself is decorated with stylish outdoor bulb lights and a modern fire if you want to make yourself feel extra trendy. And let’s be honest, everyone wants to feel trendy sometimes. — Taylor Perse

Best Little Old Movie Theater

David Minor Theater 180 E. 5th Avenue 541-762-1700. DavidMinorTheater.com.

I’ve always considered myself a movie person willing to see anything from the work of auteur Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds, anyone?) to modern day superhero movies that proudly boast a predictable plot (yes, I saw Avengers: Endgame in theaters).

To indulge this passion, I love attending the David Minor Theater. 

The small but the cozy setting of a somewhat dingy old theater brings back a feeling of nostalgia for the past coupled with a sense of community. The experience is fairly intimate — just a few rooms and a handful of recliners, couches and plush chairs.  

The theater plays a select number of films that are currently in theaters as well as the occasional classic — or cult classic — such as Casablanca or Donnie Darko. One of the best parts about this home-theater style experience is the meals available to eat while you watch, including pizza, burgers, mac n’ cheese, salad and regular theater concessions.

The food is catered from local restaurants Cornucopia and Steelhead Brewery, providing the best quality meal and drink while you debate whether the movie your watching will win any Oscars. Seeing a movie at the David Minor Theater is an original experience that embodies the niche values of Eugene and the wonder of cinema. — Taylor Perse

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Seth Milstein

Best Up-and-Coming Scene

Stand-up Comedy EugeneComedyScene.com.

Eugene’s stand-up comedy scene in is on fire right now — from open mikes popping up everywhere, to bigger and bigger headliners coming through town. I thought it was time to check in with a few people for whom all the tireless work building the local comedy scene is starting to pay off. 

“There’s a good crew of people that have been doing it for a years,” stand-up open mic host and founder of the D.B. Cooper Comedy Festival Max Brockmann tells me.

“We have a lot of people that are about a year in that are very good, and they’re just getting better,” he says.

“Stand-up in Eugene has never been more available than it is currently,” continues Seth Milstein, a stand-up open mic host and co-founder of local stand-up comedy booking and promotion company Just Comedy.

“Comedy fans can see local talent on a weekly basis and Just Comedy brings national touring headliners on a monthly basis,” Milstein says.

“Our scene is definitely doing really great,” adds stand-up comedian and open mike host Cienna Jade Simmons. “A couple years ago we had two weekly mics, and a couple regular shows. Now we have 8 regular mics, a weekly showcase, two monthly shows and big- name headliners, along with our first festival ever. We’ve been working really hard,” she says. — Will Kennedy

Best Mechanic That Won’t Gouge You

City View Import 151 W. 7 th Avenue. 541- 484-5555. CityViewImport.com.

Since the dawn of time, two professions have been regarded with utmost suspicion, if not outright hostility: doctors and auto mechanics. In fact, the Dead Kennedys combined the two in a wicked punk rock take-down, “Trust Your Mechanic,” whose chorus snarls: “Gonna rip you off!” Which makes the guys at City View Import all the more remarkable. Courteous, trustworthy, efficient and talented, this clutch of mechanics is so understanding and straightforward that they can turn your worst day (“Um, my Volvo just blew up…) into something almost uplifting. They listen, they inform and, in the end, they present you with an itemized list in descending order of things that must, or should, or might, be done, like triage in a hospital room. The result is that you walk away knowing exactly where your auto stands, health wise, and every estimate comes in on the nose. Owner/operator Erik Kazmar says his business strategy is to be “super up front with the customer and let them make the choice. There’s no heavy sales pitch. Let them come to the conclusion with as much information as I can give them,” he says, adding that, “As far as a position that I stand on, I make sure people don’t get super deep into what they own unless it’s worth it. Don’t put any money into something that’s not worth it.” — Rick Levin

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Sara B3 & the 45 RPM Soul Revue

Best New Local Bands You Should Head Out and Hear

I’m as mixed-up about it as you are: Do two bands that play mostly cover songs belong on my list of Eugene’s best new bands? But given how great these bands are, I just don’t see any other way around it.  — Will Kennedy

Sara B3 & the 45 RPM Soul Revue Facebook.com/Sarab345rpm.

Playing the greatest hits of Motown, soul and R ‘n’ B, Sara B3 & the 45 RPM Soul Revue just keep getting better.

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The Graduating Class

The Graduating Class TheGraduatingClassMusic.Bandcamp.com/releases.

Could a band from Eugene break through to Maroon 5-style pop superstardom? If anyone does, it’s going to be Graduating Class.

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Astro Gala

Astro Gala AstroGalaBand.com

Astro Gala play big and emotional indie rock with the grandeur of U2 and the delicacy of dream pop. 

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Real Gone Trio

Real Gone Trio TheRealGoneTrio.Bandcamp.com.

Real Gone Trio play rockabilly, punk and surf music with loads of cool-as-hell SoCal attitude 

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JD Miller and Broken Heart Rodeo

JD Miller and Broken Heart Rodeo Facebook.com/JDMillerandBHR

Playing originals, classic honkytonk and early stadium country, JD Miller and Broken Heart Rodeo are on the leading-edge of Eugene’s country music scene.