The Oregon Coast, just a few hours drive from Portland, Oregon, may be well known for its 300 miles of public beaches, haystack rocks made popular in the film The Goonies, or for its many lighthouse photo ops. But that's not all that there is to enjoy in this scenic corner of the Pacific Northwest; the food alone is worth the trip. Fresh seafood, locally made cheeses and beers, and seaside restaurants that serve up stellar views alongside their locally-sourced cuisine. Whether you're planning a trip to the Oregon Coast or just looking for a bit of travel inspiration, a sampling of our favorite bites from last summer will be sure to whet your appetite.
Astoria Coffee House and Bistro is a small cafe in Astoria that serves up soups, salads, sandwiches, and entrees from breakfast to dinner (open everyday from 7am-8pm and until 10pm on the weekends.) It's the perfect spot to take a break from a coastal road trip with a comfy, bright decor and filled with a traveler-approved globe decor. My favorite bite there was a cup of creamy clam chowder, which was the perfect satisfying accompaniment to a light salad and a strong iced coffee to prep me for the rest of the day's drive.
My stop at the Wayfarer Restaurant in Cannon Beach last summer was a special one. At the time, Chef Josh Archibald was prepping for his Oregon Coast menu at the James Beard House in New York City and I got an early taste. The bite above featured local Cape Falcon Dungeness Crab legs atop fresh greens, sweet onions with a light vinaigrette. It was simple, clean and highlighted the star ingredient, the crab. The entire menu provided insight into Archibald's reverent treatment of seafood and a commitment to local ingredients.
Local is a theme that runs through the Wayfarer's menu with highlights that include Oregon hazelnuts, foraged mushrooms, fresh shellfish and local wine and brews. It's an easy stop to fit into any coastal trip, as the restaurant is open seven days a week, breakfast to dinner. But, I highly recommend a long, leisurely dinner sampling the bounty of the Oregon Coast. You won’t be disappointed.
A trip to the Oregon Coast means a visit to Tillamook, Oregon, the birthplace of the ubiquitous dairy brand of the same name. Any West Coaster will immediately recognize the brand from their local grocery store and I will admit that soon after moving here, those orange loafs of cheddar cheese and gallons of cookie dough ice cream soon found themselves homes in my kitchen. Tillamook opens its doors to tourists to stop in and have a peek at their operations. Make no mistake, the factory tour is touristy. In fact, it’s cheesy, but I think the pun is intended. You can take your photo with a variety of props, view the cheese line hard at work from above and shop for your very own cheese-themed tchotchke. But, most importantly, you can also sample the cheese (don't skip the hot habanero jack!) and pick up some in the gift shop for later snacking.
You can also buy a scoop or two of their ice cream. Deciding on a flavor is the most difficult choice, as they offer every flavor they make, plus some special flavors only available at the factory. (Plan ahead and check for a current list of flavors before you go.) I settled for a cone of the Caramel Butter Pecan, but Sticky Bun, a flavor mimicking the sweet pastry, was another hit with my companions. The Tillamook Cheese Factory is open year-round, with longer hours in the summer.
Beer samplers hold a special place in my heart. Why settle for a pint when you can try a brewery’s tap selection without getting inebriated? In Pacific City, Pelican Pub and Brewery is the spot to stop for a drink, bite and a view. Situated right on the beach, it's the perfect spot to spend a gorgeous summer afternoon. Plan ahead and you can attend a Brewers Dinner, held three times a year pairing Pelican's beers with a five-course meal. Otherwise, they're open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and sell 22-ounce bombers for you to take home. If you’re not up for an entire sampler, the summer seasonal Ankle Buster Ale was one of my favorites.
Georgie's is a typical beachside restaurant with a menu to please a crowd, loads of seafood options, ample portions and a nice view. If you've got a picky eater, it's the spot to stop to make sure everyone can find something they like. I sampled a variety of their menu options, from salad to seafood. And, while fried, local seafood is always a win, especially when it’s panko-crusted razor clams, I found my favorite bite in their halibut tacos. Topped with mango salsa, house-made salsa verde, and crunchy cabbage, the tacos were refreshing and satisfying. Throw in a sunset, and dinner at Georgie’s is a good way to end the day. But Georgie's is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well, so you can squeeze it into to your itinerary.
Happy trails and happy eats!
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