Foothills, Forests & Foraging

Greg Robeson and T.R. McCrystal, Guest Author
May 20, 2012 (Updated June 26, 2014)

T.R. McCrystal, Chef and Weekend Warrior

For chef T.R. McCrystal and his wife Jennifer, a search for balance led them to the mountain town of Sisters, where they opened Jen’s Garden Restaurant in 2006. Before landing in Central Oregon, T.R. wandered through Europe and fell in love with the pace and ethic of food preparation that begins with a trip to the outdoor market to get inspiration. His restaurant, he says, is not just about eating; it’s about balancing livelihood and lifestyle. Here are a few of T.R.’s tips for exploring his part of Oregon:

Start your day:
The Glenwood Restaurant in Eugene is a breakfast institution. The menu is huge, but you can’t go wrong with one of their famous scrambles, like the pesto shrimp.

Meet the maker:
On your way over the mountains, stop by the farm stand at McKenzie River Organic Farm in Leaburg. Pick and pack yourself a picnic.

Grab your camera:
Driving over the Cascades, you’ll wind past a plethora of waterfalls. Along the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway, you’ll find Sahalie, Koosah and Tamolitch Falls, to name just a few.

You’ve gotta see this:
At the top of the McKenzie Pass is Dee Wright Observatory. It’s a beautiful drive through an ancient lava flow with a handmade volcanic overlook waiting in the middle.

Can’t-miss dinner:
The Kokanee Café in Camp Sherman is one of those places that local foodies have known about for years. Don’t let the rustic setting fool you… This place is some serious eats. Great wine list, too.

Unique sleeps:
The House on the Metolius in Camp Sherman is nestled among 200 acres of meadows and towering Ponderosa pines along a meandering river. Staying here is a life-changing experience.

A treat worth driving out of your way:
Anything at Sparrow Bakery in Bend. Grab their amazing Chicken Waldorf sandwich with Rogue Creamery Oregonzola and hit the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway for the afternoon.

Want some inspiration to help create your own tasty trail? Download our Trails To Feast booklet featuring seven culinary paths throughout Oregon.