I get a lot of questions about food recommendations in Manzanita. The fact is, I’ve lost weight out here being away from the incredible temptations of great food in Portland. Limiting my time there to 2-3 days a week has been great for my health and my bank account.
So, while they seem to be getting better, Manzanita is not a food mecca. You’re not here for that.
That said, without going into too much detail, here is where I eat (and don’t eat) in the area (only in order of how they came to mind):
UPDATED Labor Day, 2017
- Marzano’s Pizza – I love the sausage and roasted onion pizza here. While it’s not the best pizza I’ve ever had, to have this be the only game in town is surely not a bad thing. As of this writing, September, 2016, the dining room is no longer open–take out only. I have taken a few people here, and most agree it’s nice pizza to have as the only game in town.
- Riverside Fish N Chips – Nehalem. Nicely done cod and excellent chips, along with grilled cheeses. You sit by the beautiful Nehalem River behind Buttercup and have yourself a delightful Nehalem experience. Oh, the cole slaw, with raisins, I really like. For two, I recommend the 3 piece F&C, add one piece of fish. Grilled cheese with cole slaw instead of fries. For $20, you split both and eat very well in a sweet setting.
- Vino – When I’m in the mood for a salad and maybe lasagna, and conversation. This is the Cheers of Manzanita, and Dixie is one of my favorite people here. I haven’t gone much lately because I haven’t felt that social this summer, but the wine selection is great, and it’s a delightful place. You have two options for eating outside, too. I love it most in the winter, when the tourists aren’t here. Or there. It’s cozy inside when it’s raining. CLOSED, due to tornado in Oct, 2016. So sorry about this.
- SanDune Pub – For pub food, it’s really good. My only gripe is as a local, paying tourist prices, which I never noticed until they jacked up everything $2 this year. The burger and fish burgers are fantastic. Fried oysters are really good, but pricey at $18 now. Tuesday night rib nights are worth it. The staff is wonderful and parking is easy! The grilled fish salad is just fantastic. And of course, Oakley is welcome on the back deck. A huge plus.
- Buttercup – Excellent choice of chowders, which are heated up and mixed to order. Not your standard chowder fare, and surely is reflected in the prices. While I appreciate the flavors and love from Julie, I still have a hard time justifying $18 to enjoy soup twice. What I have to do is adjust my mind to not think of it as soup. If it was positioned as a sauce to put over pasta or rice (which I’ve done), the value proposition seems to go up. Nonetheless, I treat myself to it once in a while. I can’t comment with any credibility about the ice cream. Julie is the former owner of…
- Bread and Ocean – Great spot for sandwiches and quiches during the day. They’ve expanded the space, though in the summer the waits can get long to eat. My particular favorite is the meat loaf, but those memories come from when Julie was there. But I am happy to report that the quality of their sandwiches hasn’t dipped with the new ownership. I still don’t love their baguettes, but that’s OK, because I am not tempted in light of trying to curb my intake of bread. Their Friday and Saturday night dinners are pretty good. Nice portions of straighforward dishes, like seared salmon, ribs, steak. I like this place more and more, and now they even take credit cards. Bonus: You can buy Sleepy Monk Coffee here.
- Kendra’s River Inn – Cute little spot operated by a woman who doesn’t claim to be the best chef in the world, but is really good. I like that. The burgers are outstanding, the fries even better (with dipping sauce), and her chowder is really good. They have a nice view of the river, too. I haven’t ventured into the entrees yet. I have a couple of reasons to be at least a bit concerned about sanitary precautions here, and it’s chilled out my visits here, unfortunately.
- Left Coast Siesta – I really am not a burrito eater, but I order two enchiladas here with some rice and beans, and I’m happy. If you’re standing in line to order, and there’s a family of four in front of you, the list of questions that have to be asked and answered for each person’s order borders on comical. It can take a while! It’s nice sitting out front when the weather permits.
- Big Wave Cafe – Updated Sept, 2017. For years, I’d gone a few times and just wasn’t that bowled over. Not long ago, I stopped in here on a Saturday night and really enjoyed the prime rib special. Having never been in at night, I liked the lighting and atmosphere more than I expected I would. The fish and chips is panko breaded, and very heavy at that. Not my favorite. The chef/owner seems like a nice many with a big smile, and employees seem to be happy. When asked how I liked my fish and chips, the owner wasn’t really interested in hearing my feedback. I got a snarky, “So this is chef to chef, right?” A little passive-aggressive, since he asked me my opinion and didn’t seem to put any stock into what I said when I responded to his query. Oh, and they need a brighter bulb to light up the specials board. It’s impossible to see. I once mentioned it was impossible to read the prices, in a darker chalk color than the items themselves. So recently, I asked the server what the price was on something, and she went right up to the sign – a foot away, squinting — and couldn’t read the price! “I can’t read it either. I will have to find it in my notes. Just a minute.” Something tells me this is a strategy to sell specials, because it’s just too apparently faint and nothing has been done about it in over a month. That sets a tone that doesn’t sit well with me. So, the only thing I can say is that the prime rib special is nice if you’re in the mood for it. Three different cuts available.
- Wanda’s in Nehalem. Everyone knows about it for breakfast and lunch, and there are lines. The huevos rancheros are fantastic, as is just about every other thing there for either breakfast or lunch. If you don’t feel like the line, you can try…
- Handy Creek Bakery in Wheeler, which offers an incredible view and good breakfast. The wheat bread to go is to die for, as some of the limited baked goods available. Or also, not bad for a simple breakfast is…
- The Bunkhouse. It’s cute and they do a decent job. Again, nothing like Portland, but no wait and it’s close to me. If you’re looking for eggs and bacon or pancakes, this place is fine.
- Manzanita Mudd Dogs. Open in the summer, it’s a must. The Chicago-style dogs are absolutely delicious, and it’s for a good cause. I love walking down the beach to enjoy lunch in the gorgeous Oregon summer weather with Oakley and heading back, walking the hot dog off with a walk on the beach..
- Manzanita Farmers Market has some decent options to eat while it’s going on, mid-June to mid-September. But it’s limited to a couple of things, and waits can be long.
- The Mexican place across from Marzano’s sucks, in my opinion. Plus, for two years they had the wrong menu prices published online, and even after I brought that to their attention, they didn’t seem to give a shit.
- Rising Star in Wheeler – I’ve been a couple of times, and it’s OK. Some people rave about it. I don’t really see that, but it’s a nice alternative with some good pastas in you’re looking for something different.
- Pizza Garden – It’s got a nice terrace. The simple, straightforward Italian dishes have been good at a fair price-in two visits. I can’t say the pizza is something I’d order again. And I went on a busy summer weeknight and the service was terrible (over 75 minutes to receive two pasta dishes) and the orders were all wrong.
- Neahkanie Bistro — I’ve only been here once. If I am going to spend decent money, I’d prefer to do it in Portland. If you’re visiting Manzanita, you might not mind and could have a nice time.
- A Mighty Thai – Decent Thai food, often inconsistent in timeliness, quality and heat scale interpretation, but sometimes really good and a nice diversion from the usual out here. If you order takeout, just assume it’s probably not going to be ready when they tell you it will be.
- Blackbird – It’s tough for me to respond to questions about this place, and I get asked often. I have a little personal problem with the Chef, Lee. My name is on the Kickstarter plaque as you enter. I lived in the sweet little apartment above Blackbird, and across from the chef there. I was excited to move to that great little spot when construction was just finished on the apartments–the first place I’ve had to myself since I was in college. While some say the food is good, and I had some good food when I did patronize this place, I will not encourage anyone to go. Having lived near her for nine months and seeing what she’s like as a human being, fuck that. Her childish behavior caused me to have to move from a place I really liked a lot. (Serendipitously, I am happier in my new digs) While my well-meaning advice about her originally planned name, “Marrow,” was unsolicited before she opened, she took it and named it something else. Had she not taken the advice and successfully operated Marrow, I’d feel very differently and humbly admit I was wrong. I was her closest neighbor, and brought my son to the chefs counter on opening weekend, and she couldn’t even bear to acknowledge my presence from the kitchen. That’s a pretty bad sign, when the owner of the restaurant can’t put something like that aside and realize she’s in the hospitality business and just be… hospitable. I put up with her recyclables for months in the common area of our apartment building, never saying a word. It got to the point where, in order to get to the stairs leading to my apartment, I had to move mops and buscarts full of dirty dishes to the side. Utter disrespect for my sharing space with her. When I did ask her, via text, if she could remove a screen attached by velcro to our common door for the three days a week she wasn’t open, she took it upon herself to take down and forcefully throw my framed drawing of my dog against my door, and then call the landlord to complain that I was being unreasonable. She’s had a ton of turnover– a few mutinies, I’ve heard, and I have met a few other people who feel the way I do about her as a human — they worked for her. The menu rarely changes, which is odd for a farm to table establishment, so you can decide for yourself on this one. If you go, maybe give her a fucking parking lesson while you’re there. Is that enough?
- Cannon Beach? Eh. I used to love Ecola Seafoods, and it’s OK. But I was spoiled by other better fish and chips on the coast. The Chocolate Shop makes an orgasmic hand-turned chocolate shake. I go to Mo’s for lack of better ideas because the view is great and I can get broiled salmon for like $12, with a salad. Oakley and I take a walk afterwards up to Haystack. Most everything else is priced for touristas, and I prefer not to do that, because I’m not one. I save my higher end dining budget for Portland or travel–a personal thing–so I can’t help much if you’re looking for high end dining here. I’ve tried a few, and have nothing really good to say, so I will leave it at that.
- I often stop at Camp 18 on the way to Manzanita, early in the morning. I love sitting by the window with a river view or by the fireplace. It will give you a little taste of true Oregon. Just don’t go when there are many cars in the parking lot and you’re like me and not really loving crowded places.
Before I discovered Riverside N Chips in Nehalem, which I am so delighted to have close by, I did a podcast about fish and chips up and down the coast . While I strongly suggest day trips for my two favorites, South Beach Fish Market just south of the Yaquina Bay Bridge, and Linda’s in South Bend, WA, the others shouldn’t disappoint if you’re in the areas.
This is work in progress, and it’s work to do this for you, so pardon me for not taking the time to link everything and have pictures of everything. I will when I have some free time. (Awful blogger I am. This is why I have a podcast now. Maybe I will make this into an episode.)
Please comment if you desire.