At The Highlands Brew Pub, a glittering row of silvery beer taps and the clack of pool balls beckon to passersby to stop in for a tasty craft beer and relax with their friends and neighbors. A menu of upscale pub cuisine pairs with frosty brews, with selections such as clams saut?ed in white wine, prime rib sandwiches, and buttered halibut fish and chips.
Chef Richard Balajadia’s food presentation can be dazzling—in his hands, green apples become swans and ahi tuna piles atop rice and vegetables to create gravity-defying sculptures—but he relies on seasonal ingredients to ensure that the dishes taste as good as they look. If organic arugula and free-range chicken don't sound like standard sports-bar fare, that’s precisely the intention. Lifelong friends and owners Michael Hoover, Todd Bardwell, and Bill Hutchins told the Register-Guard that they hired Balajadia because they wanted a menu that would appeal to their own "foodie tastes." Accordingly, even the bar’s burgers transcend their simplistic origins with jalapeño barbecue sauce, grilled portobellos, or house teriyaki sauce.
Even the bar’s drink menu rotates seasonally, with specialty cocktails that change to incorporate fresh summer fruits or entice tipplers with autumnal spices. The mixologists create their medleys of rosemary-infused Gentleman Jack whiskey, silver-agave tequila, and guava nectar at a bar where flat-screen televisions keep the atmosphere lively by showing Ducks’ games instead of documentaries about watching paint dry. The patio's red and yellow triangular shade sails for sunny days, and outdoor heaters fire up on chilly ones. DJ Reddfox transforms the vibe by spinning live on Saturday nights.
At street level, Diablo’s Downtown Lounge hides behind the guise of a traditional bar. There, hearty burgers and beers culled from 10 tap lines arrive at tables surrounded by subtle red upholstery and a gallery’s worth of local artwork. But tucked away on the pub’s subterranean level is a shadowy nightclub where painted flames race up the walls and repeatedly disappoint revelers trying to light their cigarettes. Formerly Perry’s Nightclub, the downstairs haunt still invites dancing on a large floor infused with ‘80s, hip-hop, or contemporary house music handpicked by DJs and special guests. Each level hosts its own events throughout the week, including karaoke and bingo upstairs and Goth-themed dance nights downstairs.
Since putting the finishing touches on their first dish in 1892, Cafe Zenon's chefs have sated the appetites of area diners with entrees infused with international flavors. Amidst the bustling kitchen, the culinary crew deploys ingredients such as butter-poached wild Salmon and Bitterroot Mountain Morel mushrooms to whip up eats for lunch, brunch, and dinner. Along with savory meals, Cafe Zenon's bakeshop remains awash in the sweet aromas of tiramisu, lemon chiffon cake, and Boston Cream pies filled with vanilla pastry cream and Paul Revere's secrets.
Question Ambrosia Restaurant & Bar chefs on how their pizzas acquire a rich, smoky flavor, and they'll point you toward the wood-fired oven that burns brightly near the restaurant's main entrance. Inside its superheated walls, pans of crusty crostini, lasagna, and thin-crust pizzas bake at high temperatures that seal in juices and bring out flavor. After checking on pizzas, chefs return to the kitchen, where they fold fresh herbs, premium meats, and fresh seafood into the pastas and regional Italian classics lauded by reporters from Ethos magazine.
Diners at Ambrosia await their meals amid the high ceilings, exposed-brick walls, and rustic accents of a multilevel dining room. Behind an antique wood bar, servers blend specialty cocktails and uncork bottles from the restaurant?s extensive Italian wine list, which was honored with a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. On the first Wednesday of the month, staffers host a wine event in their private tasting room, where guests intent on honing their wine skills can learn about different varietals or practice juggling water balloons filled with fine champagne.
Good Times neighborhood pub hums with lively chatter and upbeat music from the early morning until late at night, becoming quieter during the laidback afternoon hours and loudening once blues jams and live DJ performances get started. Bartenders craft mixed drinks and dish out drafts from the bar's selection of 37 microbrews, domestics, and imports on tap. Servers dodge wayward pool sticks as they seek out tables, juggling trays of specialty burgers, crispy nachos, and—during weekend breakfast hours—giant stacks of fluffy pancakes.
The atmosphere is equally energetic out on the outdoor patio, a covered terrace that reporters from Eugene Weekly described as "huge" and "pool bedecked". Here, customers perch on tall black chairs, their faces illuminated by glowing heat lamps and TVs broadcasting live sporting events or breaking news from the trusted source of Sesame Street.