Monday, June 21, 2010

Blogging break: Best Eugene Patios

I'm in and out of town right now -- away last week, about to be away again this week -- which makes writing about local food something of a challenge.

When I get back, though, here's what I'm excited about for summer:

  • The opening of Osteria Sfizio in Oakway Center, which has a menu that I could curl up in for days, starting with the fritto misto of sweet onions and squash and moving through the promised homemade pastas into the the fried ceci (chickpeas!) and perhaps whatever their fish-of-the-day is. Oh: and their drink menu (who wants to split a Prosecco Punch Pitcher with me?) speaks to me, in the liquidy language of love.

  • The return of patio season. I like sitting outside, but the patios I recommend much meet the following criteria: 1). Cannot be fenced off space in a parking lot; 2). Cannot be facing a road, putting you at nose-level with passing cars and their tasty exhaust; 3). Must be an actual part of the restaurant, not outdoor seating that's available nearby but requires trips in to the bar for any kind of service. With that defined, here's what I like:
    • McMenamin's North Bank has about the best patio in town, really, with its river view and rather fun people watching as bikers and runners pass on the trail, but the service can be slow and the fight for a table on a nice day can be fierce. There's also no shade on that deck, and I've been burnt -- literally -- by this experience.
    • The Vintage has a cozy vine-draped back patio that offers just the right amount of shade under which to enjoy one of their house-infused liquors. (Do I do nothing but drink in the summer? Maybe).
    • The McMeniman's at High Street has small but completely serviceable outdoor seating that's easier to get into than North Bank, now that the student ghettos are cleared.
    • The original, Lincoln Street Cornucopia has a nice backyard area with picnic tables and some patchy, tree-provided shade; they're about to add sidewalk seating, too, and boast not only a decent happy hour (3-6 p.m.) but daily specials (Monday: Burger Day; Tuesday: Philly Day, etc).
    • I've already said I like the little yard-patio at Holy Donuts!, but it's worth repeating. Though there's probably only seating for 12 back there, you don't need to hang out terribly long to enjoy a few bucks' worth of donuts and summer air, really, do you?

    • Keystone Café has a grungy/rustic (depends on your level of localness, I think) little deck area featuring covered and uncovered seating and also the affectionate prowling of the café cat who would, yes, like a bite of your vegan toast if you'd deign to drop it to the ground.
    • Rennie's Landing, during the summer, is not overrun by undergrads, and if they open the upstairs level, this can be a nice place for a late-afternoon beer on a half-shaded upper level deck.

  • OK, that last one cost me something, so I'll just say the other treats of the season will clearly be the ice creamerias around town and my new summer mission of visiting them all.

Anybody have a great local patio that I'm forgetting? I am all sunshine and ears.

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