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Chow! EW's quarterly restaurant guide

April 6, 2017 12:00 AM

The Equiano tasting room is tiny, calm and slow. I enter and am embraced with the redolence of expertly roasted coffee. Two older gentlemen sit in a corner, nailing down the answers to life’s mysteries over espresso. Dave Harney, having driven across town from his auto body shop, waits expectantly for a couple of Americanos, a latte and a half-pound of beans.

April 6, 2017 12:00 AM

Eugene, Oregon, and Chef Ibrahim “Ib” Hamide, founder of Café Soriah on 13th Avenue, have been through a lot together: the tumultuous ’60s, the booming ’90s, the tense aftermath of 9/11 and, now, Donald Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric. 

April 6, 2017 12:00 AM

He came to the U.S. with $300 in his pocket and a partial scholarship to the University of Oregon. Now, after 48 years in Eugene and a string of restaurants to his name, he has finally started a place that serves the food of his home country, Lebanon. 

April 6, 2017 12:00 AM

It survived colonial occupation, war, immigration and migration. Refugees helped spread it around the world. Today, Vietnamese beef noodle soup — called pho — is more popular than ever and has earned a global following, including in Eugene. 

April 6, 2017 12:00 AM

On a recent mid-week afternoon, the dozen people who drove up to Tortilleria el Metate’s storefront along Main Street in Springfield were greeted with a sign on the door stating: “No hay tortillas.” No tortillas today.

January 26, 2017 12:00 AM

The Hayden Bridge Tap House is full of happy customers on a Friday evening. Multiple screens flicker with basketball games, and classic rock is urging us to sing along. But there must be some sort of acoustic magic happening, because my husband and I can still hear each other over it all. We sip a heartwarming stout as an enormous serving of fresh, veggie-topped nachos sits between us. Overall, we find ourselves in a comfortable and comforting place to have a beer and a meal.

January 26, 2017 12:00 AM

Jason Waligoske and his wife, Louisa Waligoske, are farmers. 

They have a dilapidated collection of outbuildings and greenhouses on the 4.6-acre former plant nursery site in Dexter they purchased two years ago. The couple battles poison oak while tending greens and tomatoes and checking their water lines. They use amendments listed as acceptable by Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI). They’re organic farmers, right? 

January 26, 2017 12:00 AM

For years the building at 1190 City View Street housed a dowdy local Mexican favorite named Nacho’s Restaurant, and for years the building blended right in: Complete with faux-adobe walls and a waifish, grinning hombre caricature, the restaurant had everything we’d come to expect of Eugene’s longest strip mall on 11th west of Chambers.

January 26, 2017 12:00 AM

“If we had a cow,” my daughter said, hope resonant in her voice, “we wouldn’t have to go to the store at all.”

We are not getting a cow. Our family is already scrambling and busy without the addition of milking anything.

January 26, 2017 12:00 AM

Step into Lewis + Clark Restaurant, a catering service turned full-time brick ‘n’ mortar restaurant on Martin Luther King Boulevard Jr. Boulevard in Eugene you’re greeted with a chalkboard reading: “Welcome to Our Humble Abode.” 

January 26, 2017 12:00 AM

The aroma of smoky mesquite lures your nostrils around the corner of West Broadway onto Olive Street, to Dos Banderas, the little food truck that could — and does — deliver the most authentic-recipe tacos, giant burritos, quesadillas and more for those craving that rarest of things in Eugene: Mexican food that is truly outstanding. 

August 25, 2016 12:00 AM

“It’s good but not as good as Michelle’s,” is something Carmen Nasholm heard often as her seven kids were growing up. Michelle Reid, Michelle’s husband Dave and their two children became friends with the Nasholms through church in 1993. 

“We always talked about how great it would be if I could have a place that sold jazz CDs and books and Michelle could have a lunch counter,” Nasholm says. In September 2015, once all but two of Nasholm’s kids had flown the nest, that dream became a reality with four tables plus a handful of stools in downtown Eugene. And, of course, a soundtrack of Nasholm’s preferred Dixieland jazz (most of the time).

August 25, 2016 12:00 AM

If Eugene were Japan, there would be an izakaya on every corner — maybe several. 

Most of them would be street stalls specializing in only one type of food, such as fish soup. Some, like the newly opened Izakaya Oyazi in the space of the former Granary Pizza restaurant, would have a broad menu. 

August 25, 2016 12:00 AM

Food journalists at respected culinary magazines venture that doughnuts are “having a moment” right now. Frenchified boutique pastries made with cage- and hormone-free ingredients at places like Blue Star — first in Portland then L.A. and Tokyo — masquerade as doughnuts and telegraph the coming of a revolution similar to the obnoxious cupcake uprising of yesteryear.

Feeling doughnuts slip away from the ordinary and into the purview of wealthy cosmopolitan foodies irks me because I know they are not meant for the haut monde. Dirt cheap and made from the worst stuff on earth, the glazed annulus fits neatly into my schlubby fist — the powerless fist of a futureless bum. Doughnuts are loser food. Knots of sugar and grease form perfect ballast for the all-night diner set, the “Nighthawks” Edward Hopper painted, folks with no place else to go.

August 25, 2016 12:00 AM

What you know about Middle Eastern food is probably wrong — at least according to Alaa Albaadani. That’s why she started the Mediterranean Network Restaurant, to share the traditional tastes from her home in Yemen, along with other staples from across the region. 

“I love American food, but every restaurant that is not American is Americanized,” Albaadani says. “I go to a Middle Eastern restaurant and it tastes totally different than what I’m used to. I get frustrated because people say, ‘This tastes good,’ and I say: ‘That’s not my food; that’s not the real thing.’” 

August 25, 2016 12:00 AM

Joy Knudtson is a force of nature.

As owner and operator of Brails Restaurant in south Eugene, Sang Joo (aka Joy) Knudtson provides a big measure of the joint’s appeal. On any given morning you can find her zipping around the linoleum floor of this old-fashioned American diner with the antic patterns of a human hurricane — part field marshal, part peppy maestro, all cult of personality. Her demeanor is flashy, welcoming and entertainingly out-loud, like a low-impact carnival barker, and the perpetual activity to which she subjects her environment belies a sly watchfulness that comes from running a busy café for the past 18 years.

August 25, 2016 12:00 AM

“I can ramble,” Jim Evangelista warns me with a twinkle in his eye as we sit down in his bakery off River Road. “And I’ve got lots to talk about.”

Evangelista does have lots to talk about — mostly words of praise for all the people, organizations and institutions that came together to make the nonprofit Eugene bakery Reality Kitchen and its brand-new pretzel food cart a rollicking success.

August 25, 2016 12:00 AM

It’s a familiar story: Pig & Turnip started out as a food stand in Eugene but with a stationary location that wasn’t easily accessible. Owner and chef Natalie Sheild decided it was time for a change. The German-inspired cuisine moved in February to its new location at Springfield’s Sprout! Regional Food Hub.

Sprout! is an incubator program that helps local small businesses grow. Pig & Turnip, along with a handful of other restaurants, is nestled in the Sprout! building. You’ll find it just past the courtyard of A Street and through large, heavy-set doors. As soon as you walk in, a barrage of different aromas fills the air.

June 16, 2016 12:00 AM

Buy local: It’s a mantra repeated with such frequency in the bountiful Willamette Valley that it’s almost lost all meaning. Let’s take a step back and look at some numbers. According to the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition, a 2010 analysis estimated that Lane County consumers are spending less than 5 percent of their food money on locally produced food. 

“OK, but locally produced food is hard to find,” you scoff.

Actually, that’s wrong! Lane County has an astonishing variety of locally grown foods — milk, veggies, fruit, herbs — and now that the Lane County Farmers Market is open on Thursdays as well as Tuesdays and Saturdays, locavores have even more opportunities to buy fresh produce. 

June 16, 2016 12:00 AM

local ice cream maker Coconut Bliss has built a nationally recognized brand name without sacrificing its core values of independence and integrity. Coconut Bliss marketing communications manager Elizabeth Reilly says these Eugene-style priorities are partially what make her company so unique. “We are one of the best examples of a family-run company in the region,” Reilly tells EW.

June 16, 2016 12:00 AM

I’m here to report that the Euphoria Chocolate Company in west Eugene bears little resemblance to the delicious Byzantine splendor of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Sadly, no orangey Oompa Loompas mobbed me at the entrance when I visited, and Euphoria proprietor Van Glass is practically the antithesis of that passive-aggressive tyrant Willy Wonka, whose benevolent disregard sent poor Augustus Gloop up the tube.

June 16, 2016 12:00 AM

Since the 1970s, Genesis Organic Juice has prided itself on providing a product that’s local, sustainable and 100-percent organic.

And in that mission, it’s taking on Big Soda.  

“Odwalla is a Coke product. Naked is a Pepsi product,” says Jonah Alves, president of Genesis Juice. “This new one, Suja, is a Coke product, and Evolution is a Starbucks product.” 

June 16, 2016 12:00 AM

In Eugene, we take comfort in having local stores and markets dedicated to wholesome organic food, from The Kiva and Sundance Natural Foods to Market of Choice. But where do they get their ingredients? For herbs, teas and spices, one top supplier is Mountain Rose Herbs.

June 16, 2016 12:00 AM

Traditional capitalism teaches bigger is always better. Not so with Lane County-based Sweet Creek Foods. 

“It isn’t sustainable to grow too large,” Sweet Creek owner and founder Paul Fuller tells EW. “You lose the flavor if you’re trucking everywhere.” 

Located near Elmira, family-owned Sweet Creek Foods works with Eugene-area farms and food producers, co-packing and preserving food for consumers from Bellingham to San Francisco. “We believe in a static growth,” Fuller says. “To go national takes fighting the big boys. We like the idea of being a regional player.”