Tucked into the North Coast between Neahkahnie Mountain and Nehalem Bay, the little town of Manzanita certainly doesn’t look like a center of fine cuisine, but it is. With just over 600 residents and a main street that dead ends into the Pacific Ocean, Manzanita packs in the culinary excellence with a delightful bakery, fine dining, wine, beer and gourmet groceries. Between savory bites and delicious sips, be sure to wander down to the town beach or to nearby Nehalem Bay State Park, where the miles of windswept dunes and driftwood sculptures feed a hunger of a different kind.
Bread and Ocean: Step through the doors of this tiny bakery and you’re immersed in the magical aromas of baking bread, sugar and spices. Bread and Ocean’s sweet-roll menu alone has a cult following with choices like cinnamon, cardamom orange and almond poppy seed — all flavors perfectly complemented by a steaming cup of Sleepy Monk coffee. For something hardier, check out an array of breakfast sandwiches (served on house-made English muffins) and frittatas. Watch for the daily bread special, including the potato, rosemary and leek loaf, a polenta honey bread and a pumpernickel. For lunch the cafe serves gourmet sandwiches, a panini of the day, fresh salads, and a selection of Oregon wine and beer. Cupcakes, brownies, cheesecakes and other delights are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Blackbird: Serving the most upscale cuisine in Manzanita, Blackbird still manages to retain the friendly feel that defines the Oregon Coast. Chef and owner Lee Vance focuses on a fresh seasonal menu, taking advantage of Oregon specialties like Netarts Bay oysters, Dungeness crab, grass-fed beef, community-supported fisheries and farm-fresh produce. The bar mixes a host of classic and specialty cocktails (including the Last Word — a must-have for some), as well as a wine list that pays homage to Europe, South America and the Pacific Northwest. The spare dessert menu is perfectly simple: pot de creme or buttermilk ice cream. It’s open for dinner from 5 p.m. to close; reservations recommended.
San Dune Pub: Far more casual in atmosphere (no more than three dogs on the patio at one time, please), the San Dune Pub provides comforting tavern fare. Open since 1935, this is your classic, must-visit Coast roadhouse. Start with chili-cheese fries and Wings of Fire before proceeding to a robust roster of burgers, wraps and grilled or battered seafood baskets. With more than a dozen rotating taps and a full bar, the pub has plenty to offer in the way of Oregon craft beer and cocktails. The San Dune is open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to close. (Hours vary off-season.) Catch live music on Saturday nights.
Neah-Kah-Nie Bistro: Chef and owner Lynne Hopper’s reported mission is to deliver gourmet comfort food, and she succeeds. The Neah-Kah-Nie Bistro menu includes various fresh seafood options, as well as delightfully seasoned grass-fed beef, pork and fish — like the chimichurri prawns, the Carlton Farms pork chop and a 10-ounce rib-eye — bolstered with hardy sides like creamy polenta, mashed potatoes and french fries. The menu changes with the seasons; open Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to close.
Manzanita Market: If you’re in the mood to dine in, the Manzanita Market is one-stop shopping for gourmet groceries. The deli case is lined with fresh catch as well as free-range meats, salamis and artisan cheeses. Stocked with fresh organic produce, the little store is also packed to the rafters with fine wine, craft beer and specialty chocolates. Manzanita Market carries everything you’d need in the way of dairy, oils and spices to create your own local flavor.
Left Coast Siesta: Mild and sometimes foggy Manzanita is far from sunny Mexico, but the folks at Left Coast Siesta bring that southern heat to the table. Serving up fast, healthy and fresh Mexican food, the café offers a build-your-own burrito or enchilada menu (try the tequila-lime chicken or spicy pork) as well as taco salads, quesadillas and various kids’ meals. Chile fanatics are thrilled by the hot sauce bar, with more than 200 options to choose from. Open Wednesday through Sunday at 11:30 a.m. and Tuesday in summer.