Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Otis Cafe

One of the highlights of our trip to the Oregon Coast last weekend was a breakfast at this tiny little place in the middle of nowhere, the Otis Cafe. Wonderful.

We first noticed the place Friday night on our way to Lincoln City. It was dark out, we were on a mission at that point to get all the way to the coast and to have some famous clam chowder at Mo's before checking into our hotel, so we just blew by. But we both remarked on the big neon Otis Cafe sign above this shack at the side of the road, and the gravel parking lot full of pickups and cars and the giant crowd inside the small, bright restaurant. We both said it looked like a place worth checking out sometime.

Friday night, Saturday, Saturday night all come and go. Walks on the beach. Meals at Mo's. Long, profitable poker sessions at Spirit Mountain and Chinook Winds casinos. A couple of times we drove by Otis Cafe, which is four miles east of Lincoln City on the road between our hotel and Spirit Mountain, and it always was packed. So on Sunday morning, when we were getting ready to leave town and head back to Seattle, we decided to stop there for breakfast.

There are only five or six tables in the restaurant, and another five or six stools at a counter, so we had to wait. Michelle walked next door to a little "antique"/junk store, and I talked to a local couple waiting with me on the wooden bench out front. They said they eat there all the time and it's always packed and always great, and that we were lucky there weren't a half dozen parties ahead of us, especially on a Sunday morning. This place is famous, the said.

"Famous," I was sure, was an overstatement. But sure enough, when we got inside the menus had reprints of fawning reviews from the New York Times and USA Today. And Michelle picked up a couple of guest books for us to leaf through while we were waiting for our food; the reviews from past diners were incredible. One couple had traveled all the way from Australia just to eat there again, they wrote. Someone else had come from Hawaii on the recommendation of her parents. Several couples signed the book on a wedding anniversary and said a trip to Otis was part of an annual celebration.

When the food arrived I understood the devotion. Everything was made from scratch -- including locally raised eggs, meat and other ingredients -- and it was delicious. Michelle had eggs, hashed browns and two kinds of toast from homemade bread, including a brown molasses bread that was really good. I had two buttermilk pancakes the size of a plate, along with bacon and eggs and grapefruit juice. De-lish.

To get to the restroom at this place you have to walk through the kitchen. We both noticed rows of fresh pies cooling on racks, and when it was time to leave Michelle asked if whole pies were for sale. Our waitress went off to fetch one.

"I'm giving that to your sister," she said.

"Mich? Why? What the hell," I said. Mr. Thoughtful. "We're getting one for us then, too."

So we came home with a Marionberry and a strawberry rhubarb. I can't vouch for Mich's, but our Marionberry pie is pretty darn yum.

All of which is to say, if you're anywhere near the northern Oregon Coast, take a short detour up Highway 18 and stop in. We'll be back for sure. Highly recommended. 4 gliomas.

(The above photo is from flickr. Michelle has her own pics that I'm hoping she'll upload.)

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Rita said...

This and other coast pix and posts makes me want to hop in the car.

Glad you had such a good trip.

kateco said...

okay seriously, this and the Orange Bob story from one little weekend jaunt. When are you writieng that poker road trip book? Now! Yay!