Throughout my years at the University of Oregon, I have learned all the tips and tricks of eating and drinking my way through college. Living in Bean West freshman year allowed for an immense amount of food exploration early-on. I have zero willpower when it comes to food, so turning down a Sunday brunch or late night slice will never be in the cards for me. I applaud those who can resist the urge to eat every minute of their life because I definitely cannot.
To save you all the time and heartache, I have compiled a strategic list of eateries, bars, and hidden gems that are necessary when navigating your way through your four years in Eugene.
When you’re trying to watch the game: Taylor’s Bar and Grill
If you’re like me, you’ve missed your lottery time for game day tickets and been tragically disappointed when your friends make the trek to Autzen Stadium without you. Taylor’s is the place where other ticketless souls gravitate to because they offer hearty burgers and quite the assortment of beer.
What to Order: Any burger on the menu, but if I had to choose, the Grilled Cheeseburger with a side of Party Tots. Nothing says Eugene like tots on the porch of Taylor’s.
Location: 894 E 13th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401 (One block off campus)
When you’re craving Mexican food: Tacovore
Although this spot primarily sticks to tacos, it’s one of the most popular places to grab some grub in Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood. Tacovore uses fresh ingredients and has a wide range of salsas available to douse your tacos in. When the weather becomes nice the line will be out the door.
What to Order: You’ll have a variety of tacos to choose from depending on your preference of meat. My go-to is the carnitas taco with pineapple salsa and a classic margarita on the side. Margaritas are a must at Tacovore, but beware they are strong.
Location: 530 Blair Blvd, Eugene, OR 97402 (In the Whiteaker neighborhood)
When you’re cramming for exams and the library is full: Vero Espresso House
Vero is without a doubt the cutest coffee house in Eugene. Their cozy atmosphere comes equipped with bold lattes, free WiFi, and amazing food. If it’s nice enough, sitting on the deck with a latte and pumpkin bread is the ideal study spot.
What to Order: Two words: French. Toast. It’s only served Thursday through Sunday so you have to get this dream-worthy meal on the weekends. They also brew Stumptown Coffee, which is every Oregonian’s favorite.
Location: 205 E 14th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401 (15 minute walk from the Knight Library)
When your parents are in town and footing the bill: Oregon Electric Station
Ever since Oregon Electric Station was renovated in 2014, it’s been a hit among fellow Ducks and their families. The menu offers exquisite plates including lobster mac n’ cheese, halibut ceviche and various cuts of beef. If you want to save a little pocket change they have a bar menu that’s filled with various options equally as good.
What to Order: Start with the Northwest Dungeness crab cakes then move on to a filet mignon or New York strip. To finish off a true OES experience order the vanilla Crème Bruleé.
Location: 27 E 5th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401 (One block from Inn at the 5th)
When you have a sweet tooth: Sweet Life Patisserie
Everything at Sweet Life is made in-house, making it the real deal when it comes to desserts. The possibilities are endless here and there’s an option for everyone including gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan desserts.
What to Order: Chocolate raspberry torte or any of the cakes available.
Location: 1609 E 19th Ave, Eugene, OR 97403 (Right next door to Prince Puckler’s Gourmet Ice Cream making this spot a hit for all)
When you finally turn 21: The Cooler Bar
The Cooler is a hidden gem for newly 21-year-olds because they offer a free fishbowl sized drink on your 21st birthday. The contents of the bowl are typically the bartenders choice, but either way, you’re scoring a free fishbowl filled with alcohol. Need I say more?
What to Order: The Fishbowl, duh. #SpoonTip: Get nachos to split with friends to avoid a nasty hangover.
Location: 20 Centennial Loop, Eugene, OR 97401 (Near Autzen Stadium)
When you’re craving a slice: Pegasus Pizza
Easily the most favored pizzeria near campus, Pegasus never disappoints. You’ll walk by on 14th and the smells will immediately draw you in. Resisting the urge to grab a pie on the way home from class every day has been the truest challenge of college. Plus, located below is Fathom’s Bar where you can score $1.50 wells and $3 doubles during happy hour.
What to Order: Pegasus Chicken. One of the best BBQ chicken pizzas I’ve ever had. Seriously, you’ll want to bathe in that barbecue sauce.
Location: 790 E 14th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401 (Along with this location are two others; one near Trader Joe’s and one off 29th and Willamette)
If you have the late-night munchies: Uly’s Taco Shack
If you ask any Duck around campus what their go-to late night eat is, I guarantee they will say Uly’s Taco Shack. Unfortunately, Uly’s is only open Thursday through Saturday but the line is always out to the street.
What to Order: The trifecta with loads of green sauce.
Location: Located across from Taylor’s Bar and Grill in a green and yellow food cart.
When you’re hungover: Agate Alley
Agate Alley is undefeated when it comes to hangover brunch on the weekends because of their famous Bloody Mary bar. Along with wonderful cocktails is a selection of Benedict’s that will cure any hangover blues.
What to Order: Make the Bloody Mary of your dreams to go with a smoked salmon Benedict and some crispy hash browns.
Location: 1461 E 19th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401 (10 minute walk from the Student Recreation Center)
If you need to grab lunch between classes for under $10: Caspian Mediterranean Café
Whether you’re craving burgers or a shawarma plate, Caspian’s got it all. They offer the classic Mediterranean options along with American style food for you picky eaters out there. Bonus: they’re open until midnight during the week and 2 a.m. on the weekends. You can always count on Caspian’s to come through.
What to Order: Lamb gyro with a side of feta fries. This can honestly be enjoyed any time of day but my personal favorite is to stop here before hitting Max’s on the weekends.
Location: 863 E 13th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401 (Next door to Webfoot)
When you’re feeling fancy: Beppe and Gianni’s Trattoria
Beppe and Gianni’s offers an intimate dining experience with authentic Italian cuisine and a candlelit atmosphere. It may be expensive, but it’s definitely worth it. This is the original treat yo’ self restaurant in Eugene.
What to Order: The Cappelli di Vescovo. These ravioli’s are shaped into little Bishop hats stuffed with swiss chard, ricotta, prosciutto, and Parmesan. Cooked in a brown-butter sage sauce, it’s one of the richest and savory pasta on the menu.
Location: 1646 E 19th Ave, Eugene, OR 97403 (10 minute walk from the Student Recreation Center)
When you’re craving barbecue: Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen
They aren’t lying when they say it’s like you’re transported to New Orleans without buying a plane ticket. Papa’s Soul Food makes you wonder why anyone can be vegetarian in this world. Guy Fieri approved, you must go to Papa’s if you live in Eugene.
What to Order: The brisket is actually so tender it melts in your mouth. You have to order the mac n’ cheese regardless of your main dish because it’s to die for.
Location: 400 Blair Blvd, Eugene, OR 97402 (In the Whiteaker neighborhood)
If you’re “doin’ it for the Insta”: Sushi Pure
Pure is a tasteful sushi restaurant that offers rolls covered in black rice that turns purple when cooked. I couldn’t have been more excited when I ate here for the first time because of how colorful each item looked. Everything about their menu is Insta-worthy. They even brand the wasabi with their classic Pure logo.
What to Order: Split the Ahi Tower to start and get yourself a First Kiss roll. The plating is unreal so you’ll be racking up those likes in no time.
Location: 296 E 5th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401 (Next door to Inn at the 5th)
Along with these excellent spots, Eugene has plenty more to offer its students. If you’re a first year, I highly recommend exploring food outside of the residence halls. Don’t get me wrong, dorm food is the bomb, but getting to know the city early on is the best thing I’ve ever done. If you’ve been here awhile, let your taste buds guide you while continuing to explore the Eugene food and beverage world.