Dishing on the Eugene Restaurant Scene

If you’ve been to Eugene, Oregon, you probably noticed a few specific things. For one, it’s TrackTown USA — which explains why Hayward Field at the University of Oregon was the perfect location to hold the USA Track & Field Olympic trials earlier this month.

You probably also noticed that the Eugene restaurant scene is on point. Believe me when I say that I certainly noticed it during my whirlwind trip for the Olympic trials (which, omg, SO EXCITING to see those runners in person!). My fellow Brooks Running blog ambassadors and I were in Eugene for less than 48 hours, but, as ever, the awesome peeps at Brooks made sure we ate really, really well while we were there.

Also on point in Eugene? The craft beer. And the wine (which is great considering I’m heading back that way in less than a month for the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon!). Here’s a brief look at some of the Eugene restaurants we hit!

airport oatmeal

Okay, so this isn’t technically from Eugene — or even Oregon, for that matter — but it was the meal that kickstarted my trip. I bought it from a bagel joint in the Atlanta airport and got several comments from people about how I was making the “good” choice. Honestly, the decision was mostly made because I knew I’d need plenty of protein to keep me full on the cross-country flight following my 3 a.m. ET wake up, and this boasted 9 grams. It might’ve been hard to ignore the bagels while they were toasting, but once I got a whiff of the cinnamon and apple in this, I was super happy with my choice.

beer buddies

Most of us met at the airport and had some tasty box lunches there — I had a green bean sandwich and it was pretty awesome, if a bit on the messy side. We took a shuttle together to Eugene, unloaded our stuff at the Brooks frat house (seriously — Brooks Running  rented out a fraternity house right next to Hayward Field. They cleaned it, painted it and made it a really fun home for all of us and many of the Brooks employees!), and headed over to watch the trials. I’ll share more on that specific experience on Fit Bottomed Girls soon.

There were a bunch of interesting food and beverage trucks at the trials. I loved that very few places sold bottled water, but there was a whole truck with spouts available to fill a water bottle that you might have on hand. Since I carry a water bottle everywhere, that worked out really well for me. Save some dollars, save the planet, right?

My beer buddies (yeah, we gave ourselves a nickname), Lora and Meghann, joined me to check out the Ninkasi Brewing Company truck. Portland and Eugene have a great rep for craft beer, and we weren’t about to miss out on an opportunity to sample the local brews. We each tried something different and shared a little — an Easy Way IPA for Meghann, a Tart and Soul Sour (cutest name ever!) for Lora, and a Helles Belles Lager for me. I couldn’t get down with the IPA, of course (although I tried!), but we were all really happy with our picks.

eugene restaurant excelsior inn

Following the trials, we walked over to the Excelsior Inn, where we were treated to a private room and incredible menu — plus a very impressive wine list. I geeked out a bit over trying some Willamette Valley pinot noir, and opted for a chilled cucumber soup, the world’s best insalata mozzerella, and a slice of coconut cream pie that was so good I wanted to move into it and live there. The crust was made from shredded coconut! All pie should be so good. I also sampled a bit of the berry tart, and that wouldn’t have been a bad choice, either.

beer buddies coldfire brewing

The next day we did a little running, watched a little running, went to lunch at The Cannery (kale caesar salad FTW!) with a couple of amazing runners competing in the 5000m at the trials (do you sense a theme?), then stopped by the Run Hub Northwest, where they had lots of trials-themed Brooks apparel as well as a small local brewery called ColdFire Brewing on site, which was awesome but super local with no plans to distribute anywhere near me. Womp womp.

eugene restaurant king estate winery
I mean, that VIEW. Can you even? I cannot.

Dinner for our final night was at King Estate Winery, and I’d been excited about this meal for weeks. The folks at King Estate call themselves the Kings of Pinot, and they’re well known for both their pinot noir and pinot gris. I’m guessing they’re also pretty well known for their stunning views (of which I got a picture) and excellent appetizers and cheese boards (of which I did not). I sampled both of their best known wines and couldn’t have chosen a favorite because they were both a delight (pro tip — check for it in your local wine store. I found the King Estate pinot gris at the Total Wine down the street!).

However, this was the one Eugene restaurant where I found the salad and main course wanting — both were okay, but not so special compared to the wine, apps and dessert (not to mention all the other incredible meals we’d enjoyed already).

Before our flights out, the beer buddies got together one last time at Rogue Ales to sample some brew we weren’t likely to find at home. With that in mind, if you ever find the Hazelnut Brown Nectar or Voodoo Doughnut Mango Astronaut Ale, just do it. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Just drink and enjoy.

Have you ever been to Oregon? Got a favorite Portland or Eugene restaurant? I can’t wait to go back! Kristen


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