Have you ever tried ordering fast food for a baby? Babies can’t eat small cheeseburgers in kid’s meals, and babies need more nutrition than fries and juice. When we discovered that a fast-food joint had run out of mandarin oranges and didn’t stock applesauce, we left the order counter. We dropped by the pharmacy next door to pick up some rash medication we needed, and the baby and his dad found a can of peaches.

One little boy was begging for the peaches and the other guy hadn’t eaten in seven hours, so we decided on another fast food joint. But on our way through a parking lot, we stopped. And decided on Spud Brothers Pizza instead.

My, are we glad we did. We ordered, as usual, and we could hear the banter of the two guys behind the ovens. We got paper plates for the peaches and praise about the one eating them. They gave us a free kiddie cup. While we waited, the larger of my two boys slipped away for a moment, and when he came back, he told me, “You must go look at the bathrooms. Have. To. Go.”

So I did, even though I didn’t need to use it. Flipped on the light and closed the door and gaped. This small, local business had hired two beautiful muralists, and the best work was done on the usually-overlooked bathrooms. Then, they’d clearly done some refinishing work before the restaurant, because the walls extended to the color on the floor.

I admired the details in the small room and even reached out to touch. Then I went back to the serving area.

I had noticed, on my way back from the bathroom, that there was a bar tucked in the back. I was glad there was a wall separating the bar area from where we were sitting so we could bring our baby in.

“What’s in the men’s bathroom?” I asked my husband.

“A really cool volcano with the silhouettes of a forest. The ceiling’s painted, too.”

I egged him on. “Was there anything unusual on the floor?”

“Yeah, there was. The tiles were colored, “he said. “Why? Don’t you have a volcano, too?”

I shook my head and we compared notes.

Then, our food came. We ordered a large pizza with half Birds on a Barbie (chicken, onion, green peppers & cheddar on a BBQ base), and half Alfredo Potato (alfredo sauce with chicken, onion, cheddar cheese and, yes, potatoes). Clearly just out of the ovens, and delicious.

I was dubious about the potatoes, but they make for good texture and a nice neutral in with all the other flavors. We can’t remember what the crust was like because the toppings were so good. Tasty balance, and clearly fresh ingredients.

As we ate, we admired the underwater murals in the dining area, along with the colored ceiling tiles and surfboards. The chairs look like bamboo. Cheery decor, but not overly so.

We ordered breadsticks for the baby, but he wasn’t interested. So we ate them. Tasty, but we’re picky about breadsticks because my husband has worked in a different local pizza place. Still, we had no complaints about them—white, round, crusty and smooth. A hint of butter and salt. Pretty nondescript but filling.

I chatted with the proprietess behind the counter for a bit before we left; I wanted to know the talented muralist who did the bathrooms. She works at Spud Brothers and does murals for a hobby. It figures: clearly, lots of artists work here, and not just visually. We left with full stomachs, leftovers that were savored (and eaten to the last crumb), and a new loyalty for little, local Spud Brothers Pizza.

Try out their pizza and other tasty stuff at 3862 Center Street in Salem, Oregon. To order out or for pick-up orders, call 503-378-SPUD.

Kate is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico. As much as she’s learned to seek out the subtle colors of the desert, Kate has found that she really is a tree girl at heart. She spent seven years in Utah, where she got a bachelor’s degree, a husband, and a baby boy. She got her fill of mountains and then got out. Kate posts on parents’ tips for kid-friendly traveling havens from a curious newcomer’s perspective; Kate is a very recent resident of Salem. To read more about Kate and her adventures, she writes with more personal ties here: http://explorewithtwine.wordpress.com.

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