I used to live in South Eugene, and as such the only coffee place of mention near me was the Hideaway Bakery. Thank goodness for proximity -- Hideaway lives up to its name, nestled into the back half of a building shared with Mazzi's only-open-on-the-evenings Italian food. Blink and you'll miss their small, curbside sign -- and what you'll really miss are their pastries.
I spent many a happy mid-morning with a cup of Hideaway's coffee and one of their almond-blueberry pinwheel pastries or their amazing, buttery chocolate croissants. During the rainy season, you can huddle indoors by the smoky fireplace in a mirrored room with about ten sturdy, square tables and take advantage of the free wifi. On sunny days, or lightly misting days, the patio (which is mostly covered with see-through tiles) offers a nice chance for fresh air and is framed with hanging baskets of flowers and small topiaries -- though it's also one of the main Eugene hangouts for big, ugly, buzzing flies.
Hideaway serves breakfast pastries, cakes by the slice or whole that are suitable for service at any dinner party, and a selection of fresh pasta at lunch time. The lasagna was a little bitter (over-fennel-seeded) for my taste, but the ravioli is reliably good (and often interesting, with fillings beyond just cheese). The one weakness -- besides the flies -- that Hideaway seemed to have was its early closure. I was chased from the patio at 4 or earlier on several days by a friendly broom-wielding barista eager to close the place up.
This summer, though, Hideaway is (again, I believe) offering pizza nights. A large but somehow portable stone oven has found a home in Hideaway's little parking lot, and on Tuesdays when it doesn't rain (so: now until September?), it gets fired up -- and so does a whole crowd of Eugenians.
When we ventured out to pizza night, we found a line that ran from the little ordering counter well past the traditional door to the bakery, and every single outdoor table was taken. The indoor tables actually found their way outside while we lurked and lingered and finally managed to pin down a two-top for four people. So my first advice about pizza night: go early. Five, if you can manage it.
The line moved pretty quickly, in part because the menu is simple: about six choices of pizza were available. Salads or bread or anything else -- except drinks -- had to be ordered inside. There was beer and wine (both local) available outside, along with a strawberry lemonade that I highly recommend. We paid about $12 for a pizza featuring zucchini and gobs of cheese; Kristen and G went with a pizza of sausage, sundried tomatoes, and mushrooms, and braved a second line for a lemon vinaigrette salad of whole butter lettuce leaves.
Everything we had was excellent. The crust on the pizza was crisp but not dry, thin but not soggy. The sauce was an assertive fresh tomato mixture that was almost sweet; the mozzarella overlaying it was creamy, and our zucchini pizza (with shreds of carrots) was the kind of pizza you want to keep eating and eating and eating. The pieces left little pools of olive oil on the plate when they were lifted, which were good for swiping the crispy crust ends into.
The sausage pizza looked tasty (high praise from a vegetarian), and I have it on good authority (perhaps K can comment further on this) that the meat was, itself, pretty good. It looked like the loose, mild sausage that is appropriate to Italian cooking, and there was a generous amount on the pizza. Each pizza fed two comfortably, particularly when accompanied by the tart salad.
Maybe the best part of this meal was, simply, that everyone at the place seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. The cooks were slinging pizzas like they loved it, and the crowd was eating like they did, too. We were lucky enough to go on one of the first warm evenings of the summer, and it felt like most of Eugene had turned out to enjoy the sunshine, the long evening, and the smell of fresh-baked pizza over a glass of Oakshire stout. There were kids running around and grown ups laughing at each other over the metal tables; there was a three-man group of guitar players in the center of it all, providing a folk song soundtrack that reminded us, if the blooming flowers and the preponderance of tie dye and bicycles hadn't already, of exactly where we were eating.
Location: 377 East Amazon (on the south side of Mazzi's).
Hours: Normally, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., but pizza night starts at 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and runs until at least 8.