Eugene is a great place to be for any type of local food lover. The best of Eugene can be felt in the many farm to table restaurants, annual events and festivals taking place year round. Locals and newcomers will always find something fun and tasty going on in this booming college town.
Since the opportunities are nearly endless, we’ve done the work for you and compiled a list of restaurants, events, and activities that raise the bar in their own right.
Best Restaurants in Eugene
Lion and Owl
Lion and Owl’s setup is just as interesting as its name; a light and airy establishment, complete with an Air Stream. The establishment focuses on the best meal of the day, brunch, and various lunch and dinner options equally as impressive. To accommodate, Lion and Owl also offer takeaway freezer meals in case guests wish to dine at home but want to continue to support the eatery. (image above)
This food cart serves up homemade Columbian cuisine and a welcoming nature that draws in its neighbors and people passing through. Offerings include plates like a Shredded Beef Arepa and a classic chorizo plate topped with fresh ingredients and authentic spices. El Sitio also offers vegetarian options that will have people thinking they’ve jetted to a city in Columbia.
Marché is located in the bustling 5th Street Public Market and serves up rotating cocktails, depending on the season. Creations like the Bleu Lavande and the Spicy Berry Margarita are perfectly paired with small bites like the Duck Liver Mousse or the Grilled Alaskan Spot Prawns. If customers are feeling ravenous, the polished bistro serves up an impressive dinner menu with pizzas, soups, salads, and sweet desserts that are always French-inspired.
If you’re craving a unique Japanese dish, Akira is the place for you. The cozy eatery offers seasonal and homemade dishes that are an excellent pairing with a shot of sake or one of the many cocktail options. Dishes like the scotch eggs and the Omakase are popular dishes for customers who crave seafood or a classic appetizer. Above all, people flock to Akira for the sushi and the tasting menus with a little bit of everything.
Decorated with colorful decor and an oversized Connect Four game set, no doubt, Cornbread Café is a unique café amongst the many in Eugene. Customers will find homestyle vegan dishes made with all-organic ingredients and a comfort food flair. Their menu offers dishes like a “Souther” Fried Tofu, Chik’n Fried Tempeh, and cashew ice cream to complete the experience. Cornbread Café breakfast options like a vegan-inspired “Sammich” are only available on Sundays.
Popular Annual Festivals Around Eugene
Wine Country Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a time to get together with friends and family, and for three days over the popular holiday, several wineries open their doors for an annual wine tasting experience. The event is hosted by the South Willamette Wineries Association, which includes live music, food trucks, and late hours to ensure everyone can attend. Wine Country Thanksgiving has expanded in recent years and reached the Oregon Coast Range.
Oregon Truffle Festival
What do you get when you combine truffles and a bunch of people? The Oregon Truffle Festival, of course! The nonprofit organization is one of Oregon’s most anticipated events and has been featured in The New York Times. The organization’s mission is to educate folks on truffle history and its culinary importance. The festival brings together food producers, chefs, key speakers, truffle experts, and truffle fans alike.
Annual Grilled Cheese Experience
During the entire month of February, the Annual Grilled Cheese Experience welcomes guests who want to indulge in cheesy goods while supporting a good cause. The event teams up with FOOD for Lane County, a social services organization based in Eugene. Each grilled cheese item purchased at the event provides 12 meals for the cause. Customers are also able to win a grand prize by participating in a passport event. 21 “cheesy choices” are involved, and every five stamps are one entry.
Mount Pisgah Mushroom Festival
Held on the last Sunday in October, Mount Pisgah Arboretum holds the Mount Pisgah Mushroom Festival, which draws in crowds from near and far. Mushroom lovers can experience vendor booths ranging from food, beverages, arts & craft, plants, and of course, mushrooms. To get into a festive fall mood, the event exhibits over 300 species of mushrooms and nature walks, interactive booths for kids, and much more.
Eugene Beer Week
Each year, the Eugene beer scene comes together for a seven-day event called Eugene Beer Week. The event celebrates craft beer culture, as well as the community. Each year, the Willamette Valley holds an event that features tastings, special beer releases, educational beer classes, dinners, live music, and more.
Popular Food Themed Annual Events in Eugene
Oregon Asian Celebration
This special event was kicked off in 1986 by three people who hoped it would create familiarity between diverse populations of Asian-Americans in the area. Since then, it has amassed hundreds of attendees and has become a cherished Lane County celebration ever since. The Oregon Asian Celebration is celebrated by providing music, food, and beverages, which is volunteer-driven and has become of the most significant events on the West Coast.
Eugene has done it again with unique activities, and this time, it includes blueberries and bicycles. Blackberry bRamble features scenic country roads, food, water stops, and other perks along the way. On August 1 of every year, GEARs invites guests from all over to participate, with a sweet prize at the end; blackberry pie and Prince Puckler’s ice cream.
Adkins Farm Blueberry Festival
In mid-July, Adkins Blueberry Farm welcomes guests to indulge in live music, kid activities, food and drink carts, and beyond. Volunteers dedicate their time and energy to the cause as Adkins shows support for the CASA of Lane County. Local bands provide the entertainment, and food vendors like Bea’s Cart and Travelin’ Taphouse provide the provisions and libations.
Tasting and Tunes
Presented by Bennett Vineyard & Wine Company, Tasting & Tunes is a great activity to join after a long day. Beginning every Sunday evening in August, wine lovers have the chance to BYOW (bring your own wine) and enjoy a music performance at 5th Street Market. After the show, wine enthusiasts can enjoy downtown Eugene for its great eats, shopping options, and other tasting rooms participating in the activity.
How We Grow Our Food Art Show
How We Grow Our Food is another Best of Eugene activity put on by Bennet Vineyard and is an excellent opportunity to learn more about art. From mid-July through mid-August, all are welcome to join in and appreciate the work of local artists to groups of local artists. The show aims to educate, enlighten, and bring awareness of how food is grown and zeroing in on one item every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Guests are welcome to bring their own food to enjoy in the tasting room while enjoying the exhibits.