Though Willamette Burger Company recently relocated to a more spacious spot a mile away from its original digs, the burger makers still take the same gourmet approach to classic American fare that won the Statesman Journal's Best Burger award in 2011. Each patty contains more than 6 ounces of locally raised, hormone-free beef, delivered on stallion by a handsome cowboy and ground on-site. Made-from-scratch buns, house-made sauces, and Oregonian cheeses top each specialty burger, sandwich, or Hill’s Meats hot dog. The eatery strives to further improve on classic American flavors by hand-forming each one of their tater tots and cooking their french fries twice for a crisp crunch. Visitors can slurp root-beer floats and ice-cream shakes or savor wine and beer from local imbiberies such as Ninkasi and Gilgamesh. Each tabletop in Willamette Burger Company’s new location comes topped with a paper tablecloth and stocked with crayons for scribbled drawings or colorful personal manifestos. The resulting works could earn a spot on the eatery’s hallowed walls next to priceless pieces like Still Life with Cheeseburger and Les Hamburgers d'Avignon.
What started as a refreshment stand during a 1924 Pioneer Day celebration has since grown into Arctic Circle, an eatery that transcends typical fast-food standards by building its menu items from high-quality ingredients. Black Angus patties support burgers stacked with mushrooms or bacon, and 100% Alaskan halibut keeps the fish sandwiches filler-free. Over more than 60 years of business, Arctic Circle has handcrafted original eats, such as a fry sauce blended from tomato and lemon, and the Brown Topper, an ice-cream cone dunked in chocolate and placed atop the heads of nearby gentlepersons. The dessert menu also includes milkshakes, whose creamy contents harvest flavor from real fruit or hunks of candy.
Dedicating themselves to the unique pleasures of a cup of freshly roasted, skillfully brewed joe, Broadway Coffeehouse's baristas stay local, using beans from renowned Portland roaster Stumptown Coffee and stacking the display case with pastries from Salem's Great Harvest Bread Co.
The Oregonian aromas of the specialty brews and warm desserts fill the spacious café, whose expansive windows and crackling fireplace bathe the cushy couches and armchairs in natural light. A second-floor skyway overlooks the main seating area, and youngsters frolic in a family area while older people talk business in private conference rooms. In the warmer months, guests sit outdoors under the shade of patio umbrellas, safe from the sun's periodic spills of scalding-hot coffee.
In an effort to find a healthy alternative to fast food without sacrificing speediness, the creators of The Pita Pit began assembling their signature sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night snacks. At each location, thin, Lebanese-style pitas encircle lean, grilled meats and fresh veggies. Sandwich selections span the spectrum from gyro meat and falafel to turkey and prime rib. The staff empowers customers to make healthy choices by displaying nutrition information for each bread, meat, and post-meal toothpick and corralling a selection of healthy sandwiches, which dining companions can wash down with fruit smoothies.
Having carved out its own elegantly understated space inside the Red Lion Hotel, Willamette Valley Grill recently restyled its menu to feature appetizers, entrees, and salads beaming with the bravado of classic American bistro fare. Inspired by local and seasonal ingredients, chefs entice palates with starter dishes of steamer clams sauteed with pancetta, leeks, tomato, garlic, and wine. Velvety bowls of butternut squash and gorgonzola ravioli create a symphony of spring flavors while aromas pan-roasted halibut and chimichurri ribeye mingle through the dining room. After dining and sipping on a range of Pacific Northwest wines, guests can trade the restaurant's tasteful ambiance for the colorful hues of the adjacent 3301 Ultra Lounge.
IKE Box inhabits the ground floor of a 120-year-old downtown building whose spacious ballroom now serves as the main seating area of the café. Baristas serve Sisters Coffee Company coffee and espresso alongside locally produced pastries, fresh hummus, and organic cookies. For added color, an onsite art gallery swaps in fresh works from community artists each month. IKE Box also has multiple large spaces for meetings and other get-togethers.
Committed to helping not just coffee drinkers and artists but the community as well, IKE Box is run by Isaac’s Room, a nonprofit youth organization that seeks to provide valuable life skills and training to divested youth.