Nothing in Eugene is quite that fancy (or revolting, depending on your take), but there are certainly some decent places to go for good, greasy pub food. My list of requirements for good pub food is pretty simple:
- Decent fries. I like a pub fry that lets you know, "Hey, I've been fried." Pub fries aren't about the potato. They are about the crunch and the grease. My number one stop for these in Eugene is probably Villard Street Pub, where the fries have more than your normal outside skin of crunch, and where you can get a plate with cheese (and bacon) for about $4 during happy hour.
- Nachos. But not, ever, the cheese-from-a-pump nachos. I'm talking about real (not round) tortilla chips weighed down by at least one kind of shredded cheese and at least three of the following: pico de gallo, sliced olives, sour cream, guacamole, green salsa, fresh sliced jalapenos, or -- in a pinch -- fajita-style peppers and onions. (I am not a fan of diced raw onion). For non-vegetarians, I think crumbled beef chili is the most reliable pub-food addition to the nacho mess, though shredded chicken or beef seems to be popular, as well. Best bet in Eugene for these? If you want a decent margarita, nachos, and maybe a TV, the cantina at The Mission does a pretty good job. For more of a pub setting, Cornucopia's downtown location has a Macho Nachos plate that's very tasty -- but will set you back $12.
- Cheese sticks. Or cheese curds. Fried cheese is the child of nachos and French fries. It is what it is -- a tasty bundle of hot melted cheese in a crisp crust. It sounds like you can't go wrong, but oh, you can -- a few places in town (Villard, I'm looking at you) serve particularly flavorless cheddar inside very thin shells, which requires a dipping sauce to add any memorable taste. Good fried cheese should be a joy to eat -- and it shouldn't tempt you to simply nibble off the battered shell. For my money, the winner in this category is Hop Valley in Springfield, hands-down. They have a smoked mozzarella appetizer that combines a flaky outer crust with rich, smokey cheese. The marinara that comes on the side is unnecessary -- as well it should be. The whole plate runs about $3 at happy hour (4-6).
- Sliders. Ah, yes, well, I'm a vegetarian, but I do understand the concept of the bite-sized burger as a staple accompaniment to drinking. Several places in Eugene are happy to trot out a variety of these little guys, topped with all kinds of exotic toppings, but it is my understanding that the Bleu Ball Kobe Beef Sliders at the Eugene City Brewery are not to be missed. (Oh, for the days when The Vintage served grilled cheese sliders!).
What am I missing? There must be more to pub food, and more to Eugene, than these -- and I reserve the right to up-date this list as experience mandates, but of course.