: Melanie Griffin

Food-Lover’s Guide to the Eugene Area

October 19, 2021

Editor’s note: Face coverings (ages 5 and up) are required at all indoor and outdoor public spaces statewide, regardless of vaccination status. Learn more here

With its colorful murals, urban greenery and countless culinary delights, the Eugene area is a phenomenal setting for a food crawl — or, even better, a pedal-powered foodie tour de Eugene. As one of the country’s most bike-friendly cities, Eugene is best enjoyed from behind a set of handlebars, so cyclists can cover the full region’s worth of tasting rooms and restaurants while also absorbing the area’s natural beauty. 

Start in downtown Eugene and work your way through some of the area’s best eateries and watering holes. On nice days, it’s best to grab a seat outside and admire the beautiful fall foliage before sipping a pilsner, swirling a glass of pinot noir or devouring a pizza topped with Willamette Valley produce.

 

A chef garnishes a dinner plate
Marché Restaurant is a pillar of Eugene's vibrant downtown food hub. (Photo by Joey Hamilton)

Explore Downtown Eugene

The best way to approach a culinary tour of Eugene is to set aside a full weekend to explore — ideally by bike. Rent some wheels from PeaceHealth Rides, Eugene’s local bike share, which has stations conveniently scattered across the city. You can also pop into nearby Bicycle Way of Life for rentals, or chat with the friendly staff at Hutch’s Bicycles. If electric bikes are more your speed, stop into Pedego, a new e-bike rental shop downtown. 

Make your base camp at The Gordon Hotel, the luxe, art-focused hotel smack-dab in the middle of the action downtown, including the newly expanded 5th Street Public Market. Stroll down the Market Alley to taste your way through the local wine world: Pfeiffer Winery, Bennett Vineyards & Wine Company and J. Scott Cellars all operate urban tasting rooms just steps away from the hotel, showcasing the region’s world-famous pinot noir as well as other varietals. Craft-brew lovers can find an impressive selection of award-winning bretts and saisons at Alesong Brewings 5th Street location. 

When it’s time to eat, book a reservation for dinner on Marche’s Parisian-inspired patio; the restaurant shows off all the Pacific Northwest has to offer, from the burger with Rogue Creamery blue cheese to the Chinook salmon paired with wild chanterelles. For dessert, pop by Euphoria Chocolate Company for decadent truffles and snag a few bags of chocolate-covered nuts to fuel tomorrow’s bike ride.

The next day, pedal west to Eugene’s hip Whiteaker neighborhood and grab brunch at Ninkasi’s Better Living Room, which serves everything from French toast funnel cake with Oregon berries to biscuits and wild-mushroom gravy. 

Head to WildCraft Cider Works for its single-varietal, barrel-aged ciders, served alongside Thai fare from the adjoining Krob Krua Thai Family Kitchen. Or go for a Reuben and a pint at Falling Sky Brewing’s deli, which features house-cured meats and a menu full of Oregon-centric ingredients. From there, roll into Thinking Tree for a spirits tasting or a cocktail. Pedal around the shops and music venues in the Whit, and when you’re starting to feel hungry again, pedal your way back downtown. Finish the day at rye, which uses locally raised meats for dishes like coffee-and-cardamom-encrusted pork tenderloin and red-wine-braised lamb shoulder.

People sit at a row of sidewalk lined tables
Find plenty of fresh-air patio dining on Main Street in Springfield, easily accessible from Eugene by bike. (Photo by Turell Group)

Explore Springfield and Cottage Grove

For more excellent food and drink, take a longer, scenic ride along the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Path to the Springfield Main Street area. Start with a brunch of blackberry waffles and silky mochas at Washburne Cafe, and tour the area’s various murals and shops. When hunger strikes, park your bike at Plank Town Brewing for a cask ale and a big bowl of mac and cheese. For another fun weekend trip, take on the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway in Cottage Grove, a picturesque trail abundant with beautiful fall color.

On your way down to Cottage Grove, let the South Willamette Valley Food Trail be your guide: Visit Saginaw Vineyard for a complimentary wine tasting, stop by the food-truck pod at Bohemia Food Hub and make a pit stop at Territorial Seed Company to get a start on the fall garden. After the ride, grab a beer and a pot pie at Coast Fork Brewing and Feed Store, and consider spending the night at the nearby Sweet Springs Family Farm B&B.

Tacos and a salad sit on a table
Nosh Eatery in Florence offers tasty, nourishing fare if you're ready for a short jaunt to the Coast. (Photo by Melanie Griffin)

Explore the Coast and Cascades

Hop in the car and head 60 miles west of Eugene to the Coast to find more great eats along the Central Coast Food Trail. When you hit Florence, it’s time for fish and chips at Nosh Eatery or Homegrown Public House and Brewery, and maybe a celebratory spirits tasting at ​​Stillwagon Distillery

Or head 30 miles east of Eugene to the Cascades to explore and support the McKenzie River communities. Start with breakfast — which, let’s be honest, is a slice of pie — at The Vida Cafe, riding down the McKenzie Highway until you reach Takoda’s Rainbow in ​​Blue River for beefy burgers on the picturesque back patio. Be sure to treat the staff at these restaurants with extra love and care; many of these spots are short-staffed and have been grappling with the aftermath of the recent wildfires.

For a longer ride, start with breakfast at Patsy’s McKenzie Stage Stop in Springfield. Alternatively, head over to Oakridge and Westfir to hit the area’s famous mountain biking trails, grabbing a bite at The 3 Legged Crane Pub and Brewhouse. Plan for a memorable mountain biking trip by booking a stay or grabbing a meal at Westfir Lodge & Mountain Market, a ride-in ride-out lodging and restaurant in the Willamette National Forest. Check road conditions for closures before you go, as sections have been damaged by recent wildfires.

About The
Author

Brooke Jackson-Glidden
Brooke Jackson-Glidden is an award-winning editor and journalist based in Portland who covers travel, culture and the outdoors. Her work has appeared in the Boston Globe, the Arizona Republic and USA Today, and she currently serves as the editor of Eater Portland. She loves hiking, geeking out over Oregon wine, eating through Portland food-cart pods, and exploring off-the-beaten-track museums in small towns.

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