Friday, January 28, 2011

My own best of

In Eugene we have two newspapers, The Register Guard and the Eugene Weekly. Normally the Weekly hates* me and I'm, well, lets just say I am not crazy about them. But every year they release a best of Eugene issue with a restaurant guide which I do love. I was thinking about this the other day and decided I could and should write my own business friendly restaurant guide. Mine is a lunch guide because, I like most business people, eat out a lot for lunch, mostly for meetings but also sometimes because I forgot my lunch or had no food. So for all of you who live in Eugene...

Laura's Eugene Restaurant Guide for Lunch

The best take out lunch--Hong Kong
I eat here more than any other place. It's one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in Eugene and it's just a few blocks away. Lunch is $4.50-$5.50 and it's a lot of food. My favorite is Kung Pao Chicken. But on the dinner menu they have fabulous Ma Pa Tofu. It's a small family owned place, kind of a hole in the wall but they are very nice.

The best "I feel compelled to eat something healthy"--Cafe Yum
Cafe yum is sort of like Eugene's version of a peanut butter sandwich. It's always a good, stable option. Not too exciting but it does the trick. I usually only eat Cafe Yum when I feel the need to eat something healthy. They are famous for yum bowls, a bowl of brown rice, black beans, yum sauce, tomatoes, olives, Cheddar cheese, avocado and salsa. It is very Eugene.

The best comfort food lunch--Newman's fish market
Hands down! Newman's fish market is a mere one block from my office and they have the best fish and chips of my life. For 6 dollars you can have cod fish and chips to go. They also have halibut, salmon, shrimp, oysters and scallops. Plus they make their own tarter sauce. Delicious!

The best overall business meeting lunch spot--Ta Ra Rin
I have a lot of business lunch meetings. Usually I let the other person pick the restaurant but when I have to make the recommendation I always recommend Ta Ra Rin. Definitely one of the best Thai restaurants in town and just blocks from my office. They have my favorite Pad Thai and I also adore the Pad se ew. They have great atmosphere, quick and friendly service and reasonable prices.

The best hangover lunch--Brails Diner
I do not make a habit of being hungover. However, about once or twice a year, say the day after Halloween and St. Patricks day, I find myself wandering down to Brails for breakfast at lunch time. Brails is notorious in Eugene as the best hangover restaurant and I couldn't agree more. This is perhaps epitomized by one dish which consists of a mound of white rice, topped with two eggs over easy, a hamburger patty and a lot of gravy. Best cure ever! Corned beef hash is a close second.

The best celebration/birthday/long lunch with a friend lunch--La Officina
This is my second favorite Mexican restaurant in town and it is down the street from my office. This is my favorite place for a long lunch. All of the food is delicious and they make crazy good margaritas. The service is really nice but can be slow and the food takes a bit so again better for a long lunch. They make their own salsa trio that comes with chips. All delicious. Amazing Tacos al pastor and mole. They also serve Mexican style breakfast all day and on Saturday mornings.

The best wooing elected officials lunch--Davis'
In my job I have a lot of meetings with elected officials. My favorite place to take them to lunch when I need their vote on an issue is Davis'. It's a downtown institution. Traditional pub food taken up a notch, a cool yet elegant atmosphere, amazing drinks and all around foodie heaven. It's a little on the spendy side but worth it. My favorite lunch item is the white bean salad. It's a poached egg served on a bed of braised white beans and asparagus then drizzled with truffle oil. I hear the Mac and cheese is to die for it is full of homemade sausage.

The best lawyer lunch--Sushi ya
Since I handle public policy issues I often have to consult with our lawyer. He and I have become good friends over the years and he gives me loads of free legal advice as long as I buy him sushi. Good deal right. In my public policy tenure I have bought him a lot of sushi. But my favorite downtown sushi spot is Sushi Ya. It's good sushi, much better than the sushi station which I do not care for, and it's in a great location in the bottom of the Tiffany building. My favorite sushi restaurant in town is Mio, but that is on the other side of town and so not great for a working lunch.

The best romantic date lunch--Poppy's Anatolia's
When my husband and I have dates one of our favorite places is Poppy's Anatolia's. We have gone here to celebrate so many special occasions, when I got my first real job at the legislature, when he got into law school, when I finished his first year of law school, when I got hired at the HBA and for many birthday's and anniversaries. It's a quirky local place that has a menu of half Greek and half Indian. I prefer the Indian which comes with an array of homemade chutneys. Poppy's is conveniently located right across from the DAC in the heart of downtown and serves as a good lunch spot as well. For lunch I like to get dahl or vindaloo. Perfect for a really cold day.

The most exciting lunch--Ax Billy Grill
Without a doubt my favorite building, perhaps place, downtown is the DAC, the Downtown Athletic club. The building, originally called the Ax Billy Building, was built in the early 1900's. It had been abandoned when it was bought by a local developer in the 80's who restored it and turned it into a gorgeous state of the art athletic club. I have had a tour and it is amazing. The whole place looks like an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel with beautiful lounges, tiled ceilings, a gorgeous swimming pool and sauna, and locker rooms that are nicer than my house. The top floor of the DAC is ballrooms and a restaurant, the Ax Billy Grill. The restaurant has a wall of tall windows looking out to downtown. The food is delicious and being up there just makes you feel happy. I rarely get to have lunch here as it's kind of expensive. But when I do am definitely very excited!

The cheapest lunch--Riva Mexican fast food
From the nicest lunch downtown to the cheapest...You can't beat this fast food Mexican for a quick cheap lunch. It's not good but it's not bad and for 3.50 you can have a lunch to go in 5 minutes.

The best I miss college lunch--Cafe Sienna
Usually I don't miss college. But occasionally when a nostalgic mood hits me I walk a few extra blocks and meet my sister at cafe sienna for a good, cheap and massive Mexican breakfast. This was one of my favorite campus eats and it is still just as good. For 6 dollars you will have enough food for two meals, maybe three. Everything is fresh, spicy and quick. My favorite is eggs a la compesena. Scrambled eggs with jalapenos and tortilla chips served along side beans and tortillas.

The best overall lunch place--Cafe Zenon
Zenon is one of my favorite restaurants in Eugene. It has captivated my attention since I was a kid and my Dad would take me to desert after plays at the Hult Center. I used to dream of the day when I could eat an actual meal there whenever I want. Well, I wouldn't say I go whenever I want, but I do get occasional business lunches at my favorite local cafe. Zenon is perhaps most known for its ambiance. It's a small restaurant with murals on the back wall and old fashioned over sized globe street lights inside. It has a beautiful bar and is known for fabulous drinks. The menu changes each week with internationally and locally inspired dishes.

So there you have it. My guide to downtown eating. To the locals...what is your favorite place to eat in downtown/midtown Eugene?

*It is the liberal alternative newspaper and As a business lobbyist they view me as the devil incarnate, one who aides in others ability to rape and pillage the land and promotes scorched earth development


  1. It was fun to read your list! One of the best dessert dates I had with AJ was at Cafe Zenon, so I appreciate your memories of going there with your dad!

  2. I enjoyed this list a lot! It is especially fun because several of these were not the places we would eat when in Eugene. The lunch places that aren't close to campus were new to me- because if we went out somewhere else in the city it was usually for dinner! I guess I should have tried Hong Kong- I'd go past it all the time but never quite gathered up the courage to try it! Lunch places I was a fan of were: Cafe Siena of course(for a late breakfast), Maple Garden Chinese, Burrito Amigos at 24th and Hilliard their shrimp burrito, Evergreen Indian, and if I was in Springfield El Taco Express.