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Casual Dining on the Trip

As you’ve likely read before (and if not, head back to the Introduction and see how this trip played out so far), our trip from San Francisco to Portland had three main points: See family; hike the Redwoods and attend a dear friend’s wedding.  Inside those main goals we had to eat.  Our first major meal was at Saison, in San Francisco.  This Three-Michelin Star Restaurant ended up being a delight, not without some hiccups though.  The rest of the trip we focused either on home cooked meals or more casual fare. If you are in the area, I suggest you swing by some of my favorites:

San Francisco, California

Stop by Jane the Baker and grab some fresh pastries – both the pain au chocolat and the paninis were stellar.  The prosciutto and burrata sandwich was my favorite though.  The lines are long, but moved pretty quickly.  Grab a couple extra treats for later in the day or for breakfast tomorrow.

Prosciutto and burrata sandwich from Jane the Baker.

Mendocino, California

We had a quick lunch in Mendocino, the whole time the Murder She Wrote theme was ringing through my head, as the title scenes were filmed in this quaint town.  We dined at Trillium Cafe and Inn, and sat outside, with the sun beating down on us but the ocean breeze cooling us, it was a stellar venue and meal.  The four of us each had a different lunch entree and sampled each others – everything was great. I started with the Goat Cheese and Onion Tart then moved on to the Summer Vegetable Gnocchi.

Fort Bragg, California

Before Mr. Tim’s wild ride in a Prius, we dined at Silver’s at the Wharf in Fort Bragg.  This seafood restaurant was located below the main road, right on the water.  This was more of a casual place (compared to Saison or Coi), but it wasn’t a cheap restaurant.  I saw Crab Louie on the menu and this was always a favorite meal of both my parents, so when I see it at a place that looks like they can do a good job of it, I’ll order it.

Crab Louie

There was a ton of crab and the proper Louie dressing, but for more than $30USD it was quite pricey.  The rest of the entrees were equally priced, but all were very good.

Eureka, California

While we had two nights in Eureka, the torturous hike in the Redwoods didn’t allow us an early enough return for a proper meal the second night.  On a recommendation from the father-in-law, we dined at Sea Grill.  With a seafood focus, I had a superbly sweet (naturally) Dungeness Crab Cocktail and the Snapper Puttanesca.  All entrees can be accompanied by a trip to the salad bar – yes an old world salad bar, with all the fixins. It was a fun trip down memory late, but pretty unappealing in general.  The service was really a blast from the past – the servers appeared to have been working in the restaurant since the Great War, and expected that we should know the specials, details on the wines and which desserts were the best, as each time we asked about these, we got a sad, frustrated stare.

Despite the surly servers, the food was pretty damn good and I’d return to this shop any time.

Grants Pass, Oregon

We were in Grants Pass for less than 12 hours, but managed to snag a riverside table at the River’s Edge Restaurant.  This white table cloth restaurant was highly rated on the internet and came recommended from the staff at our hotel.  The weather was perfect and they even had a talented guitar player entertaining the al fresco guests.  I say talented, because he truly was.  He took requests and could play contemporary pop, country, classic rock and true classical pieces on one of his two guitars.  It as quite entertaining.

We shared the prosciutto and grilled peaches to start, then moved on to the meat course.  A simple Filet Oscar for me, while Mike had the rack of lamb.  My steak was perfectly prepared – the crab was good, but didn’t seem as fresh as what we had on earlier on the trip.

Prosciutto and grilled peach starter.

Filet Oscar

Rack of Lamb

Despite the large portions, we still had room for dessert.

Brownie Sundae

Eugene, Oregon

We left Grants Pass on our way to Portland and stopped in Eugene for lunch.  We had several options we were looking at, but settled on the casual Fisherman’s Market.  This felt more like a lunch counter with amazingly fresh seafood.  Mike had the salmon burger while I had a crab grilled cheese.  The cheese and bread really overpowered the crab, but this place had an amazing selection of cocktail and tartar sauces – including a Ragin’ Cajun, Bombary Bomber (Indian), Tijuana Terror (Mexican), Cap’n Dicks (Horseradish) and Orient Express (Soy Sauce and Wasabi).

Crab grilled Cheese Sandwich – with Waffle Fries, who doesn’t love waffle fries?

Portland, Oregon

Our two quick meals in Portland were just a few blocks from each other, both a quick walk to our hotel.  Lechon was our first stop, and since we weren’t all that hungry, I had a small tomato and burrata salad (at least I thought it would be small) and some chicken bites.  Both were phenomenal and I can’t wait to revisit Lechon and try other things on their menu.

Burrata, marinated tomatoes, basil, saba, olive oil, herbed toast

Peruvian fried chicken bites, fermented hot honey, corn crema, basil

A smokey cocktail

The final casual place we dined while on this trip was a new favorite of mine. Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen is a hip/trendy little Vietnamese place, with fancy wallpaper that is only outdone by the fancy cocktails.  Asian beers round out the cocktail list. When dining here, you’ve got to get a bowl of the phở , it rivals any I had in Vietnam proper, or any Little Vietnam around.  Also get the vegetarian crispy rolls – love it!

Phở and crispy veggie spring rolls.

I do love a starred or listed restaurant, but more often than not, you just need good local food and traveling the Northern California Coast and throughout Oregon in the height of summer gets you access to some of the best produce around – go out and explore.

Obviously, I love dungeness crab, prosciutto and burrata – what are your favorite go to items?  Do you have any recommendations for restaurants in any of these cities?  I’d love to expand my local shop horizon for our next trip.

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