Because Eugene is home to the flagship University of Oregon, we’ve always enjoyed a better-than-average dining scene, combining a taste for adventurous and sophisticated cuisine with a budget-conscious perspective handed down from generations of student eaters.
So without further ado, here are a few of our favorite spots to grab a bite the next time you need to fuel up in our neighborhood!
Is retro-vegan soul food the next big thing? If so, we’d put our money on this fun, and forward-thinking cafe—or is that retro-thinking?—serving up diner-inspired and Southern kitchen faves like chili and cornbread, Reubens and grits, all of it meatless and dairy-free.
Even if it’s a quick-serve affair, Laughing Planet brings serious cred to the world of casual dining, featuring burritos, salads, and bowls brimming with fresh vegetables and grains. By featuring locally sourced veggies and sustainable, pasture-raised proteins, this hip little chain shows us how “delicious” and “responsible” don’t have to be at odds.
This simple and homey Mexican joint is short on frills, but it serves up fresh, hot and delicious specialties like sopes—a thick, chewy handmade tortilla with savory toppings—and Mexican corn on the cob, roasted with mayo and salty cheese.
A staple of old-school Eugene, Newman’s has been serving up fresh fish for an incredible 125 years. The menu is no-frills in the extreme: Fish—your choice between cod, halibut and salmon—and chips, or a couple of simple salads and clam chowder. There’s a lot to be said for choosing a specialty and then making it perfect each and every time.
Chef Taro dances to funk music and loudly banters with customers while slicing raw fish, shaping rice and rushing between the sushi bar, kitchen and dining area at his new restaurant, Akira! Instead of an a la carte menu, Taro only offers the chef’s choice each night, which he said he prefers because he knows what tastes best and what he wants to cook. Patrons choose between the omnivore, pescatarian and vegetarian options, and Kobayashi does the rest. The dishes are changed constantly. Customers dining at the same time can get very different meals; there is an element of surprise.
Locally owned, and focused on “locally grown,” Café 440 combines the comfort and grace of an old school restaurant experience, with the surprise and innovations of a fresh new face on the dining scene. Don’t be surprised if owner Todd Schuetz, with over 20 years of restaurant experience behind him, greets you at the door, or comes by your table to make sure that the service and food exceed your expectations. Old school all the way… Todd and Café 440 have also developed a method that recycles most of the brown-water and grease the restaurant ends up with…making it one of the most environmentally conscious establishments you will ever set foot in. Fresh new ideas at every turn!