Anchoring the south end of the new North Coast Food Trail, Lincoln City holds culinary cred with its wealth of nature’s bounty from land and sea. Fishing boats ply the Pacific for salmon, crab and albacore; foragers fill up with wild mushrooms and clams; lush coastal farmland overflows with vegetables, meat and dairy. Hungry yet? It’s easy to work up an appetite here while hiking, beachcombing, storm watching and boating. Luckily, there are plenty of fresh-from-the-sea eateries dotting Lincoln City’s seven miles of Highway 101. Many of them offer a taste of history along with contemporary farm-to-table ethos, helping to define the flavor of this historic beach community.
A new online video series, called Beachside Bites, takes you behind the scenes to several of these tasty spots and then to the Lincoln City Culinary Center, where host Donna Riani reveals the secrets of popular dishes. (Also check out the center’s hands-on and demonstration cooking classes, which happen year-round.) Here are three of the featured Beachside Bites eateries to check out this season.
Farm-to-table bowling alley
This former 1930s-era Lincoln City diner and bowling alley saw its last deep remodel in the 1960s. In May 2018, new owners Danelle Lochrie and Ethan Granberg reopened the space with a new name, Olde Line Lanes and Kitchen. They revamped the menu and atmosphere to reflect the mid-century modern design, including the original wood benches and a dining counter. “It’s like a time capsule,” Lochrie says.
Their local, seasonal comfort-food food menu is family-friendly while also catering to couples on date night and singles just looking to bowl a few games — a great option in the rainy months. Condiments and buns are made in-house, along with a burger that combines beef and lamb, blanketed in kale, caramelized onion and mozzarella. House-made sausage and chicken confit crown pizza. Barnacle Bill’s, nearby in town, supplies line-caught albacore. Chicken and eggs come from a nearby farm. Lochrie handcrafts cakes, pies and cookies — all familiar favorites with a subtle twist. Dairy comes from Bennet Family Farm in Tillamook, with a choice of seven toppings on house-made soft-serve. They also make a mean fried chicken, worthy of any hip bowling alley diner, which Granberg is happy to demonstrate.
Fine dining with a bay view
Perched on the edge of placid Siletz Bay, The Bay House restaurant has been an icon in Lincoln City since 1937, embracing regional, organic and sustainable practices even before it was hip. “The fresher it is, the closer to our back door, the better,” says owner Stephen Wilson. “We deal with a lot of foragers who stop by the restaurant, and our sous chef’s mother has an organic farm up the Siletz River so she’s our first choice for vegetables.”
Chef Kevin Ryan crafts a tightly focused, refined list of fare in the dining room, along with a five-course tasting menu. “The Bay House is a little bit out of place; it’s a small community to support a restaurant of this caliber,” says Wilson. To stay accessible, they offer small plates and a three-course, $30 prix fixe menu in the lounge. A view of the estuary complements each meal, challenging artfully composed dishes to compete with the radiance of the sunset. Watch Ryan’s preparation of arancini (stuffed risotto balls) at the Culinary Center.
Crab at the counter
“Unchanged since 1949” reads the slogan at Barnacle Bill’s Seafood Market, where gleaming white tile, chalkboards and hand-painted signs broadcast nostalgic charm. The old-school retail counter “might be the last counter which opens directly to the sidewalk,” says second-generation owner Sean Edmunds. You can pick up seafood to cook at home; they’ll provide ice for the drive. Or, snag cooked Dungeness crab, shrimp cocktail or fresh, hot fish and chips to enjoy on their picnic table or the back deck at your rental — just don’t forget your glass of Oregon wine.
Edmunds says their central location is great for customers as well as their catch: “From Coos Bay to Garibaldi, it’s a short distance for us to pick up or for suppliers to deliver.” And with two fishing boats, “we can control quality to the last detail,” Edmunds says. Salmon and tuna come through the smoker year-round, along with other fish like halibut and sturgeon seasonally. They divide the salmon for connoisseur appeal: moist belly, lean tail meat or firm flesh from the salmon’s back. Watch as filet master Edmunds gives tips on how to make an easy smoked salmon spread.