It seems our time here is coming to an end. I’m in Birmingham, and I signed one of those dreadful documents saying I wouldn’t write for anyone anymore. Before we end our relationship and bury ourselves in buckets of Ben and Jerry’s and cheap tequila, I have a few final thoughts and reviews I’d like to share.
First, Off The Waffle:
Go here. You’d be silly not to. The waffles are divine and so fluffy and buttery, it’s like they stuffed a bunny in a stick of butter. You aren’t going to know what to do with yourself. Then, they go and put all those crazy toppings on their fluffy bunny waffles, and it’s the best darn thing you’ve ever had (or close to it).
I mean, what rational person would put kalamata olives, tomato, caramelized red onion, feta, sunny side up egg, spinach, tzatziki and extra virgin olive oil ON A WAFFLE? And then what hippy would eat it? Answer: Me. And lot’s of other Eugenians. And there’s a reason: it’s addictively delicious.
Go ahead, order the Cyclops the Greek. I dare you.
Second, Keystone Cafe:
The day I met the owner of Keystone, I was sitting on the back patio gnawing at an embarrassingly large spread of food (like always. This is what we food writers do. I love Jonathan Gold, but have you seen pictures of him? I’m going to look like that some day too: adorably-chubby-sized. Tall. Bearded.) He was installing his own heating lamps, gushing to me (he didn’t know me) about plans for future renovations. He is one of those owners who is deeply involved in his business and cares. The kind of business owner I wish to see succeed.
Keystone, is located on the corner of 5th and Lawrence. I’m not sure if that counts as the Whiteaker, but it sure fits the theme: folky and yummy. (Other Whiteaker notables include Izakaya Meiji, Papa’s Soul Food and Ninkasi, but I digress).
Keystone is wonderful; you’ll find great food made from scratch. There are a lot of great vegan options, but that shouldn’t deter you carnivores—they have tasty meat. Sometimes, they have live music. And they’re VERY kid-friendly. Tons of toys and coloring books.
The only major problem I have is that the coffee is serve-yourself, which sounds great in theory, but when it’s 7 a.m. and I’m hung over eating my eggs, I really just want someone to bring me my coffee. That’s why I go out. And as much as I love Keystone, I have to admit that the service isn’t great. But if you know that going in, you’ll be just fine, because the food is worth it and the patio is gorgeous on sunny summer mornings.*
Third, Marché is overrated.
If you’re really looking to drop $30-50 on dinner and drinks in Eugene, there are better places to do so. Belly, Zenon, and Soriah to name a few. And whatever restaurant Gil opened in place of the Rabbit is sure to be a win as well.
Fourth, The Kitchens
I have been in many kitchens in Eugene. There’s only one restaurant whose kitchen I’ve seen that I refuse to ever eat in: Noli Italian Cafe. I’m walking a fine line on getting sued here, so I’m just going to keep my mouth shut, but I hope that when they moved from the 5th Street Market to their new place next to Sweet Life, that a few things changed.
Another place I would caution you to avoid is El Jarro Azul. It’s just not good. Please don’t go there. My stomach will be sad for you.
And then a Conclusion because that’s what they Teach you in JSchool
And thus concludes my candid thoughts on the Eugene food scene. Oh, you were looking for something upbeat and witty, weren’t you?
Well, I can tell you this: now that I’m more than halfway across the country, I miss eating New Day Bakery’s garlic kale rolls while strolling around the Saturday Market; I miss free Track Town pizza at UO School of Journalism and Communication events; I miss popcorn at Max’s; I miss celebrating life achievements with Duck-shaped cookies from Barry’s—I miss Eugene.
I will miss this blog. One of the things I’ve learned from this blog is that as a writer, it’s ok to be me. I really like $2 tacos, and gobs of ice cream and mac’n'cheese out of a box, but I also like exploring and trying wacky combinations and finding new things—even fancy schmancy ones—and I’m really glad we could do that together, even if it means that I won’t be employed in the future because I said “shit,” more than once here. Oh, I said it again. Shit.
Tomorrow, I will release my final post, “A perfect weekend in Eugene,” where I will share what I would do if I could visit Eugene for 72 hours. Hint: it involves food.
*Disclaimer, I once accepted a free muffin. I know, I’m a bad food writer.
**An earlier version of this post listed Fisherman’s Market and Sweet Life as Whiteaker notables. I was too busy loving them to remember that while they’re near the Whiteaker, they aren’t part of it. My bad.