Oregon Restaurant and Dining Guide

In Oregon, when they say, "put a bird on it," they're not just talking about iconic tattoos and artisanal knickknacks – they're referring to the state's cuisine that Oregonians are so proud of, they'd literally stamp it on own bodies. From the unique fusion of world flavors, to the traditional seafood fare fresh from the Pacific Ocean, Oregon is a treasure chest of culinary marvels.

But this is not just about food. It’s about the stories etched into the heart of each city, an ode to their heritage and their people. In this dining guide, we’ll not only lead your taste buds on a journey through the best eateries of Portland, Eugene, Salem, Bend, Medford, and Astoria, we’ll also let you peek into the history of these cities and their culinary journeys. And we won’t stop there; we’ll suggest some must-visit tourist attractions, because what’s food without a bit of sightseeing to work up an appetite?

Portland: The Hipster's Paradise

You can't utter the word 'Portland' without picturing bicycle-filled streets and quirky, eclectic food spots. It's a city where you can't throw a reusable, organic, locally sourced coffee cup without hitting a food truck or an artisanal bakery.

For pizza lovers, Gracie’s Apizza will hit your craving spot with its Ricotta Pie, a delightfully cheesy affair. It's an amalgamation of mozzarella, pecorino, and ricotta, with a scattering of shaved onion and sage, generously peppered and finished with a squeeze of lemon oil. But hold on, their Daily Pie is another masterpiece. It's a white pizza drizzled with arugula pesto, garnished with spring onions, smoked sheep cheese, an arugula salad, and topped with a drizzle of balsamic and crumbs. For a taste of Latin America, head to Casa Zoraya. Don't miss their Empanada de Ají de Gallina – a delicious pastry filled with shredded chicken, almonds, and eggs, bathed in an ají amarillo sauce, with a cream cheese that makes everything better. Their Papa Rellena, a crunchy potato croquette filled with ground sirloin, sweet peas, and eggs, doused in a huancaynas sauce, and finished with a panko crunch, is a must-try.

Want a taste of the Caribbean in Oregon? Visit Pambiche and order their Plato Cubano. It's a heavenly plate of slow-roasted Carlton Farms pork rubbed in adobo and smothered in creole pork gravy. It's served with yuca in a garlic mojo sauce and black or red beans. And if you fancy seafood, the Pescado Con Coco won’t disappoint. A fillet of red snapper is simmered in a savory coconut pepper sauce scented with lime, fresh herbs, and carta de oro rum. The green plantains on the side will make your taste buds do the salsa. For the fans of Japanese cuisine, the Murata Restaurant will whisk you to the land of the rising sun. Their Tonkatsu – Japanese style pork cutlets, deep-fried and served with a house special vegetable sauce – will make you come back for more. And don't forget their Chicken Teriyaki, broiled chicken with Murata’s house teriyaki sauce, that's simply irresistible.

Once you're done gorging on this food, take a stroll in Washington Park or soak in the floral beauty at the International Rose Test Garden. For the lovers of art, Portland Art Museum is a must-visit.

Eugene: A Flavorful Mix

Eugene is a city full of surprises. Known for its love for art, sports, and culture, this college town is where history, hipsters, and culinary geniuses collide.

El Sitio food cart captures the spirit of Eugene in their Colombian-themed menu. Their Patacón is a carnival of flavors - think fried green plantain loaded with shredded meat, beans, pico de gallo, cheese, and a drizzle of tangy green sauce. Or, if you fancy a hot soup, their Colombian Ajiaco is a comforting concoction of vegetables and chicken, served with rice and cream. Next on your must-visit list should be Yardy Eugene. This Caribbean joint knows how to spice things up. Their Pikliz is a flavorful mix of cabbage, carrots, garlic, hot pepper, cloves, and bay leaf, all swimming in a bath of vinegar. Their Plantain With Mojo De Ajo, a plantain fried to perfection and seasoned with garlic and vinegar, is nothing short of a gastronomic adventure.

Now, let's talk about the Black Wolf Supper Club. Their St. Louis confit pork spare ribs served with mashers, kimchi-collard greens, and pickle mustard seed bbq is a carnivore's delight. For a sweet ending, don't miss out on their Shortcake that's a medley of a sweet biscuit, macerated strawberries, and sweet basil cream. Finally, visit El Buen Sabor for an authentic Mexican gastronomic experience. Their Memelas - oblong handmade corn tortillas filled with blended black beans, queso fresco, onions & salsa, and Tostada - a big fried corn tortilla loaded with blended black beans, shredded cabbage, grilled onions, cilantro, guacamole & salsa topped with sliced avocados, jalapeños & tomatoes, are too good to miss.

Take a breather from this food fiesta by visiting the Cascades Raptor Center, Hult Center for the Performing Arts, or Mount Pisgah Arboretum. These places will offer you a glimpse into the rich history and vibrant culture of Eugene.

Salem: An Unexpected Food Haven

Salem may be the state capital, but its culinary prowess gives even the biggest cities a run for their money. It's a city that carries its history with pride and serves up a delicious mix of cuisines that embody the spirit of Oregon.

Starting with Roger That BBQ, this place is nothing short of a meat lover's paradise. Their BBQ Pitmaster Combo includes a full rack of ribs, BBQ brisket, pulled pork, spicy red hots, and three sides to choose from. If you fancy some Mexican flavors, their Pork Belly Tacos served with onion, cilantro, and taco sauce are the way to go. Next up, Taproot Lounge & Café serves up the quintessential American breakfast. Their Blueberry French Toast is heavenly - two thick pieces of French toast topped with warm blueberry-orange compote, toasted almonds, and powdered sugar, a side of bacon and two eggs. If you're more into a savory start, The Rise & Shine Sandwich with bacon, egg, cheddar, tomato, avocado, and spinach served on an English muffin, is an ideal choice.

Don't forget to visit Epilogue Kitchen and Cocktails for some of the most unique and delicious burgers in town. Their Smash Burger is a hit, made with two 100% grass-fed beef patties, smashed and charred, Swiss-American cheese, onion, tomato, arugula, and handmade Bread & Butter Pickles, sandwiched between a split and grilled handmade Milk Bun. And their West Philadelphia, a classic Amoroso Roll stuffed with charred onion, cheese, and oyster mushrooms, topped with their in-house Wiz, is a culinary roller coaster ride.

After satisfying your appetite, make sure to explore Salem's rich history at the Oregon State Capitol, walk around the Riverfront City Park, or visit the Willamette Heritage Center to take a step back in time.

Bend: The Cozy Culinary Hub

Nestled in the high desert of Central Oregon, Bend is a city with an outdoor heart and a foodie soul. It's here that the sun shines the brightest, the beer flows the freest, and the food tastes the best.

Begin your culinary odyssey at Trattoria Sbandati, an Italian haven where tradition meets creativity. Their Tagliatelle Al Ragu’ Alla Bolognese is an ode to the Italian food culture, featuring house-made egg tagliatelle served with a traditional Bolognese sauce that is slow-cooked in Sangiovese red wine and tomato paste. The Merluzzo All’acqua Pazza is a real palate pleaser - Pan seared Alaskan cod baked in a robust sauce of tomato puree, white wine, spicy olives, parsley and garlic. The accompanying house-made grilled bread is perfect to mop up the remaining sauce. Moving on, Chow boasts a menu that’s as diverse and colorful as Bend itself. Their Corned Beef Hash is a breakfast classic, complete with 14-hour braised corned beef, caramelized onions, house potatoes, and two poached eggs. The Captain Duane's Buttermilk Country Fried Steak with caramelized onions, roasted crimini mushrooms, blue cheese crumbles, country gravy, and two eggs is a hearty treat.

The DRAKE-Downtown Bend, besides having an enviable location, is renowned for its innovative menu. The Moroccan Braised Lamb with Minted Almond Cous Cous, Sultanas, Goat Cheese, Charred Eggplant Yogurt, Green Cardamom is a trip to Morocco without leaving your table. For a lighter option, go for their Strawberry Salad, a delightful mix of Bib Lettuce, Strawberries, Tarragon, Shaved Fennel, Goat Cheese, White Balsamic, Good Olive Oil. Thai food lovers should head to Sen Thai Noodles & Hot Pot for their Poh Pia Sode Tod - crispy fried rice paper roll with cucumber, sweet Chinese sausage, marinated tofu, scallions, thinly sliced omelette, and sweet soy dipping sauce. The Galumpee Nam Pla, wok-fried fioretto cauliflower seasoned with fish sauce and white pepper, will make your taste buds dance.

Take a breather from the food frenzy by visiting Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Tumalo Falls, or the High Desert Museum. These sites will provide you with the perfect backdrop for a post-meal stroll.

Medford: Small City, Big Flavors

As the heart of the Rogue Valley, Medford may be small in size but it is mighty in flavors. This charming city, known for its pear orchards, wine, and breathtaking landscapes, also boasts a buzzing food scene.

Begin your food journey at Barney's Better Burgers. Here, burgers are the language of love. Whether it's their Chili Burger, Ortega Jack Burger, or Rusty's Roundup Burger, each one is a hearty, juicy celebration of American street food. Next up is Blue Royal, an Indian restaurant that serves dishes infused with a variety of spices and flavors. The Tandoori Chicken - marinated in yogurt and spices and cooked in a tandoori oven - is a delight for the senses. Their Lamb Pasanda, a mildly spiced curry with sweet cocktail fruits, is a must-try for those seeking an exotic culinary experience.

For those who crave Italian cuisine, Kaleidoscope Pizzeria & Pub offers some of the most exciting pizzas around. Try their Chicken Ranch Pizza, loaded with roasted chicken, bacon, parsley, diced Romas, red onions, mozzarella-provolone, Tillamook cheddar and ranch sauce. For an earthy kick, the Roxy Ann Pizza with roasted chicken, portabella mushrooms, roasted garlic, sundried tomatoes, oregano, mozzarella-provolone, and marinara is a sure winner.

Medford also has much to offer beyond food. So, stretch your legs with a visit to Prescott Park, Medford Railroad Park, or Crater Rock Museum, for a blend of natural beauty and local history.

Astoria: Where Rivers Meet the Sea

With a rich maritime history, Astoria is perched at the mouth of the Columbia River where it meets the Pacific Ocean. As the oldest city in Oregon, its streets echo with whispers of the past and its food tells tales of the sea.

Start your seafood escapade at South Bay Wild Fish House. Their Rockfish Tacos, grilled local fish served on corn tortillas topped with a cilantro lime cabbage, cotija cheese, guacamole, and pico de gallo w/ house tomatillo salsa, are a local favorite. Their Calamari, fried to perfection and served with a chipotle cream sauce, is a must-try. For a different flavor, Drina Daisy Bosnian Restaurant brings the Balkans to the Pacific Northwest. Bosanski Gulas’, a hearty stew of slow-simmered top sirloin beef cubes, fresh paprika, & vegetables, is a hearty winter warmer. The Sopska, a refreshing Mediterranean style salad with diced tomato, cucumber, peppers, fresh mozzarella, & farm cheese, is a must-try. Wrap up your food journey at Silver Salmon Grille. Their Smoked Salmon & Spinach Salad is as healthy as it is delicious. The Coconut Beer Prawns, tiger prawns dusted with coconut and golden fried, are a seafood lover’s dream.

And there's no better way to burn off those delicious calories than by exploring the Astoria Riverwalk, taking a ride on the Astoria Riverfront Trolley, or stepping back in time at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park and Youngs River Falls.

Oregon may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of a culinary vacation, but with its myriad of flavors, fresh produce, and innovative chefs, it has certainly earned a place on the gastronomy map. From Portland's creative cityscape to Astoria's seaside charm, every city brings its own unique flavor to the table. Whether you're an epicurean explorer or simply a lover of good food, Oregon has something for everyone.

So, here’s the deal - next time you're planning a foodie road trip, don’t just pass through Oregon. Stay awhile. Explore. Savor. You might just find that the food is as unforgettable as the scenery. After all, as they say in Oregon, "The meal is the message". And it's one worth listening to.

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