Eugene, Oregon has certainly found its niche in the world of cuisine. The city’s locally owned, speciality restaurants thrive–and thrive off customers who are willing to take old classics to new levels. Last weekend I visited my boyfriend, Alexander, at the University of Oregon and we had so much fun exploring the food joints that add their own spin to the menu.
Off the Waffle left an impact on me that keeps my mouth-watering. Their sweet, savory and off-the-wall Liege Waffles sounded crazy on the menu, but turned out unquestionably genius. Alexander ordered the “Goat in the Headlights” with avocado, sunny side up eggs and fresh basil. I ordered the “Be Brie-Peared” (so clever!) with pear, caramelized onions, melted Brie and a maple-balsamic glaze. Both were incredible and included the most interesting, complementary flavors.
Two brothers started Off the Waffle to share the authentic Liege waffles that they grew up eating in Belgium. Liege waffles are special due to the chunks of pearl sugar that crystalizes in the batter during cooking. I am on a mission to learn how to replicate these pastry like waffles. They brought me back to my trip to Brussels, Belgium last year!
Lunch at Cafe Zenon was classy, gourmet and just right for a chilly afternoon. I ordered the grilled cheese and loved the simple pairing of house-smoked cheddar cheese and crisp, buttery white bread. The side soup of French Onion Lentil with Sausage was bursting with flavor. Meshing the saltiness of fresh onion soup with zesty sausage took a potentially boring lentil soup to a gourmet level.
Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen transported me from Eugene right into the heart of the South. With classics like BBQ pulled pork and chicken, fried okra, mac-and-cheese, and Kool-Aid, it wasn’t hard not to feel the authenticity of the food. I ordered the BBQ Chicken Sandwich, which was awesome. The meat was tender, the sauce was sweet and the crispy cole slaw added the perfect crunch.
How clever is Papa’s menu design? It completely beats a boring list of food typed in Times New Roman. (Graphic design nerd alert!) Make sure to arrive before the dinner rush, seating is sparse and the food is popular!
Have you visited Eugene, Oregon before? If so where are your favorite restaurants? I am looking forward to doing some more research and exploring the other hidden gems that make Eugene’s food community stand out.
Love food. Love self. Love life.