It’s that time of year when families big and small flock to Eugene to celebrate their little ducklings graduation from the big U of O. And while campus is buzzing, take advantage of the unique Eugene food scene and try some of these local favorites that you’re family will never forget. But don’t forget to make your reservations soon. These hot spots are guaranteed to fill up fast.
The best beer and the best food under one roof. There’s nothing better. To get a real taste of the local Eugene food culture, Cornucopia is a must. There is no better place to take a large, indecisive group who can’t decide between burgers, pizza, gyros, salads, rice bowls or tacos because at Cornucopia, you don’t have to choose. They have everything. Not only do they hold the title for Eugene’s Best Burger for seven years in a row, they also have a special recipe for handmade “vurgers” so the vegetarians in the group can experience the heaven that is between those two golden buns. If you’re feeling adventurous, take advantage of their daily specials that combine a local favorite with a local micro-brew of your choice. And if you still have room for dessert, take a bite of strawberry cheesecake or carrot cake and wash it down with a featured wine or “Copious Cocktail.”
Bacon and eggs on waffles. Need I say more? What about chevre, avocado, olive oil and fresh basil? Or better yet, an entire banana split on your waffle? This local favorite is a hot spot for the weekend warriors, so if you have a little extra time and enjoy an energetic atmosphere, the line will allow you to salivate as you wait in anticipation. If you’d rather avoid the wait, take some advice from the owner and come in on the week days. “Off the Waffle pros know what’s up,” Omer Orien says. “They come in on the week days and take the frozen waffles home for the weekend.” Or you can do both… waffles for days.
The sweetest treat in town is Red Wagon Creamery’s “fresh, local and handcrafted” ice cream. Not only is each batch handmade from scratch, but the ingredients are all locally-sourced. With flavors like Hale to the Bee: clover honey ice cream with honeycomb and chocolate chip freckles, Cider Beet: beet ice cream with 2 Towns cider and locally grown walnuts, Chocolate Mole: a chocolate ice cream with a spicy twist, Mascarpone Rhubarb or Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter, everyone is guaranteed to want a second or third scoop with extra Nutella, sprinkles and chocolate fudge on top.
You might have seen it on Food Network’s Diners Drive-Ins and Dives but don’t take Guy’s word for it; now is your chance to taste it for yourself. If you’re in the mood for some killer seafood, check out The Fisherman’s Market. It may not look like a restaurant from the outside, but step on in and try their Blackened Salmon Salad or Mahi Mahi fish tacos and it might become your new favorite. And if you are hungry for dessert, stop by the legendary Sweetlife Pattiserie located just around the corner.
Take a trip down to the Whitaker for a real Eugene experience and grab some loaded tacos at Tacovore. This Eugene favorite is changing things up with its friendly staff and tacos of a local flair. And these are no ordinary tacos. Try carnitas topped with mandarin oranges and Serrano chiles, onion, jicama and house made crema or chicken topped with avocado, carrots, pickled onion, cilantro and seasonal greens wrapped in homemade tortillas. Combine the two and add a house made, freshly squeezed margarita and you might as well be sittin’ on the beach in Cancun. But the best part is: you’re in the beautiful Eugene.
Also in the Whitaker neighborhood is this not-so-traditional pizza joint. Have you ever tried pear, gouda, caramelized onions or eggplant on pizza? Well, now is your chance. Pizza Research Institute specializes in specialty toppings that are as unique as Eugene culture. You will never order a boring pepperoni-cheese combo ever again.
If you talk to anyone who has spent some time in Eugene, they might tell you about this place. Morning Glory is the ideal place for the not-so-traditional brunch. If you are in the mood for a spin on traditional breakfast foods and willing to try something very Eugene, you may be enticed to try the Breakfast Quesadilla, Mama’s Tofu Scramble, Buddah Belly Oatmeal. They also serve lunch entrees like Bisbee Blue Nachos, Sesame Stir-Fry and the Black Bean Burger. Morning Glory is also a great place if you’re in the mood for some coffee and want to get off campus.
8. Sushi Pure
Among 5th Street Public Market’s many restaurants, bars and cafes, Sushi Pure stands out as Eugene’s number one spot for sushi and authentic Japanese cuisine. What makes this family-owned-and-operated bistro unique is their famous black rice. Not only is it unique in color and makes for the best Instagram photos, it is also said to have many health benefits and adds a unique one-of-a-kind flavor to the sushi. Not interested in raw fish? Sushi Pure also specializes in Japanese dishes like donburi, udon and yakisoba. And don’t forget to wash these down with their house infused sake or traditional Japanese green tea.