You have Paris, Texas; Athens, Illinois; and Berlin, Connecticut–but let’s add Florence, Oregon to the list of cities you must visit in the United States that have (possibly) stolen their names from iconic European cities. Unlike its Italian namesake, Florence is a fairly small (at least in comparison to Florence, Italy) west coast city in Lane County, Oregon.
While the origins of its name are highly debated (although none of them include stealing it from the Italian city) the reasons to visit are definitely not. Florence has everything you could want: a lively arts and culture scene, with events like the Rhododendron Festival and beautiful, historic architecture. There is also plenty of outdoor activities you can engage in like exploring sea caves, sunbathing with sea lions, or hiking to Heceta Head Lighthouse. And most importantly (in my humble opinion), is the plethora of amazing restaurants that will make you never want to leave.
You can enjoy the cuisine of so many different countries and cultures, you’ll feel like you are traveling the world without actually having to get on a plane (aside from the one you may have taken to get here). So, to make sure you’re not overwhelmed by your choices in dining when you get to Florence here’s a pretty little list of ten restaurants you have to dine at when you go!
1. Mo's Seafood & Chowder
First on our list is Mo’s Seafood & Chowder. Mo’s is one of the oldest establishments in the area, making its official debut in 1940. It first started as a small café called “Freddie and Mo’s”, but after some time it expanded and opened up several new locations including Florence in 1978 which features the Mo’s Seafood & Chowder we all know and love today.
Mo’s Florence is located in Old Town Florence right along the Siuslaw River, where you can enjoy a variety of foods. While the clam chowder is an obvious favorite, some of Mo’s other favorite meals include a Shrimp Medley (which includes two shrimp skewers, shrimp cocktail, and dinner salad) or the classic Clam Strip Dinner (which includes tender clam strips, your choice of clam chowder, shrimp cabbage salad, shrimp coleslaw, or shrimp dinner salad, and your choice of fries, rice pilaf, or garlic mashed potatoes)–yum! And to top off your stomach-satiating meal, you can take your pick of delicious desserts: marionberry cobbler, peach cobbler, snicker pie, or peanut butter pie (and you can even make them ~a la mode~).
Fun fact: In 1968, Senator Robert Kennedy loved the chowder from Mo’s so much that he took several buckets to go.
Mo's Seafood & Chowder
Address: 622 SW Bay Blvd. Newport Oregon
Menu: Mo’s Seafood & Chowder
2. Travelers Cove
Travelers Cove is the local’s choice of Mexican-American cuisine accompanied by some great river front views. But the locals aren’t the only ones enjoying this delicious cuisine; visitors from high and low come just for the fresh eats and tasty margaritas you can sip on on the ~margarita deck~. So come on in to enjoy some Seafood chimi’s beer bread, Fajita Burrito, Steak and Shrimp Plate, Blue Moon Burger or Halibut Fish and Chips. And you obviously won’t forget about the margaritas, so be sure to try them all: frozen, on the rocks, strawberry, lime, and more!
Address: 1362 Bay St Florence, Oregon 97439
3. Homegrown Pub & Homegrown Deli
The Homegrown Pub is a cool gastropub in Florence, Oregon. It features made-from-scratch organic cuisines with fresh and seasonal menu options that change daily! Homegrown is little ~off the beaten path~ but still a part of Old Town, Florence. It is best known for its locally foraged and farmed produce, meats, and seafood plus craft beers and Kombucha on tap.
The menu here includes several options including starters, salads, soups & sides, local favorites, sandwiches, and entrees. So, with these endless options you can craft a completely unique meal every time you go. But, there are definitely some menu favorites including Cajun Fried Oysters (served with roasted red pepper relish and cajun aioli), homemade NW chowder (with clams, potato, and celery), Hippie Pie (a chickpea and seasonal veggies in mushroom gravy topped with white cheddar and green onion mash), Seafood Curry (mussels, ling cod and albacore steamed in coconut broth, spinach, organic rice, green onion and cilantro), and Wild Salmon and Mushroom Risotto (pan seared wild salmon on local mushrooms & purple karma barley risotto, sautéed spinach & hazelnut aillade).
With so many delicious options, who can choose just one? But don’t forget about the ~drinks~ Enjoy happy hour on Tuesday through Friday from 4-6 PM with happy hour food specials or one of their special elixers like Huck Finn (bulliet rye, lemon, simple syrup, splash of soda water and wild roots huckleberry vodka) or the Polyjuice Potion (blue collar vodka, local berry syrup, and fresh lemon served with a sugared rim).
Homegrown Public House
Address: 294 Laurel St Florence, OR 97439
Menu: Homegrown Public House
4. 1285 Restobar
1285 Restobar combines sophistication with a family friendly atmosphere to give you healthy, organic Italian foods that everyone will love. This restaurant features outdoor cafe-style seating with views of the Siuslaw River and Florence Bridge. There is also seating on their back patio, which provides a more private and romantic vibe, if that’s what you’re going for.
Inside, 1285 Restobar has a full dining room and full service bar, which is complete with premium wines (pairing suggestions always available), new and classic cocktails, and locally brewed beer. You can start your meal off with one of the tasty appetizers like Parmesan Crab Cakes with garlic aioli, a caprese salad, or warm bruschetta with melted Fontina cheese.
Then you can continue your meal with the build your own pasta option (choose your noodle, sauce, and meat/veggies), sandwich, burger, seafood entree, baked pasta entree, or meat entree. And don’t worry, there’s still more to this menu. 1285 Restobar has a full pizza menu with signature pies like veggie-veggie, hawaiian luau, or meat lovers; or you can build your own, and choose your size, sauce, cheese, meat, and veggies. And be sure to ask your server about today’s homemade desserts –you won’t regret it.
Address: 1285 Bay Street in Old Town Florence, OR 97439
Website: 1285 Restobar
5. Bay View Bistro
The Bay View Bistro provides a river front dining experience featuring delicious steak and seafood, along with a full bar menu. Previous restaurant-goers rave about the amazing food and equally wonderful service - so you are most definitely in for a treat here.
Some popular menu options include the Clam Chowder (clearly a Florence favorite), Steak and Gorgonzola Salad (Seasoned seared steak on mixed greens with blue cheese, red onion, tomato and avocado), Chicken Puttanesca (Sautéed in butter, garlic, olives, artichoke hearts & fire roasted tomato sauce, served on a bed of pasta with spinach and parmesan), Pork Osso Bucco (Slow roasted shank with calvados & pear reduction, rustic mash potatoes & seasoned vegetable), and the Oyster “Po Boy” Sandwich (With lettuce, tomato, red onion & spicy remoulade).
Bay View Bistro
Address: 85625 US-101, Florence, OR 97439 (At Pier Point Inn)
Menu: Bay View Bistro
6. Maple Street Grille
Be sure to check out Chef Mari’s Kitchen at Maple Street Grille. Chef Marie was born in Bucharest, Romania and came to the US in 2002 to study at the Napoli Culinary Academy in Sacramento. Since then, she decided to pursue her dreams and have her own restaurant–Maple Street Grille. The Grille is an award-winning local favorite featuring a variety of American and Romanian cuisines.
Every dish is made to order, so you know you’re always getting the freshest possible meal. Furthermore, with its extensive menu, it may be hard to choose just one course of dishes, but if you happen to end up there alone (and don’t want to order the whole menu for yourself), you won’t be disappointed by the Basil and Garlic Butter Spread (fresh basil, roasted garlic and creamery butter spread served with European crusted bread), the Gypsy Burger (original burger with onions, jalapeños, pineapple, Sriracha, bacon, gorgonzola cheese, served on a bun and with a side of Romanian potato salad), Hungarian Beef Goulash (Mari’s speciality, large chunks of slow roasted beef with cubed potatoes, carrots, celery and onions in a savory tomato broth base, served alongside house made corn bread), and of course dessert–apple, pear, or peach pie, cheese cake, or creme brulle.
Maple Street Grille
Address: 165 Maple St, Florence, OR 97439
Menu: Maple Street Grille
7. La Pomodori Ristorante
In a sea of seafood restaurants wherever shall you go for some good ol’ hearty Italian food? Well, La Pomodori Ristorante is the place for you. La Pomodori Ristorante is a cozy restaurant with a variety of Italian dishes with a Northwest twist. It’s been described as a lovely intimate restaurant with amazing food and wonderful ambiance. Thinking of checking it out? Well here are some fab menu options to consider before even getting there: Sausage Gnocchi (Italian sausage & gnocchi finished with a roasted red pepper, garlic & basil cream sauce), Parmigiano (Parmesan encrusted chicken breast, fried & topped with a red sauce. Served with linguini), and of course Brushetta (With heirloom tomatoes, gorgonzola, parmesan, basil, olives, capers, onions and garlic. Served on flatbread). And be sure to sample some of their great dessert list like Tiramisu (the traditional Italian dessert; the cake is drenched in espresso, layered with mascarpone and flavored with cocoa ), Cheesecake of the Day, or the Mud Pie (three flavors of ice cream with a layer of fudge, layer of peanut butter and an oreo cookie crust.). And if you’re hoping to peruse the drink list, then keep a lookout for Limoncello Liqueur (chilled lemon liqueur made from the zest of Italian Femminello St. Teresa Lemons), Dopo la Cena del Porto (sweet after dinner wine produced exclusive in the Doura Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal), or the Campari (a bitter-sweet liquor, drink on the rocks or in a mixed cocktail).
La Pomodori Ristorante
Address: 1415 7th Street, Florence, OR
Menu: La Pomodori Ristorante
8. Bridgewater Ocean Fresh
Bridgewater Ocean Fresh is in the heart of Old Town Florence in the historic Kyle building. This restaurant serves fresh fish and shellfish (the freshest you’ll find in all the lands), beef and chicken, salads, pizzas, pasta, and even vegetarian dishes. And because those options weren’t enough you will also find a large wine list and selection of draft beers on tap at the Zebra Bar in addition to craft cocktails.
While it might take too long to go through the whole menu at this moment, here are some popular options that you should consider: BBQ’d Oysters (with garlic butter and citrus BBQ sauce), Hand Dipped Onion Rings (served with ranch and bbq sauce), ocean food soup (rich tomato based fish soup with grilled garlic bread), Shellfish Cioppino (tomato based ocean food soup loaded with fish, crab, shrimp, steamer clams, mussels and scallops), variety of pasta bowls, Hazelnut Encrusted Halibut (wild caught halibut filet browned and baked then served over organic garlic smashed yukon golds, topped with honey orange bourbon sauce), or Chimmichuri Beef (charbroiled, grass fed, hormone free Angus beef, sauteed mushrooms and chimichurri sauce with organic garlic Yukon Gold smashed potatoes).
Remember to pair one of these yummy dishes with a microbrew, craft beer or cider on tap, or one of their cocktails like the tropical cocktail or the zombie cocktail.
Don’t worry if you have any picky eaters in your party, because with a menu this expansive everyone is sure to find something they will love!
Bridgewater Ocean Fresh
Address: 1297 Bay Street, Florence, OR 97439
Website: Bridgewater Ocean Fresh
9. Waterfront Depot Restaurant
The Waterfront Depot Restaurant is where you want to go for a fancy night out. They serve ~elevated coastal cuisine~ and you can always count on an excellent wine selection to go along with it. The coastal cuisine includes a fusion between Pacific Northwest classics with Indonesian flavors accenting the dishes. The chefs primarily use local ingredients, so the menu is constantly changing, but you’ll always see some familiar classics on the menu alongside new and fresh dishes.
Some of the specials this month include Tempura Style Asparagus (fresh Asparagus prepared to the perfect bite then tempura-battered and fried to a crisp finish, served with a sweet chili sauce), Baked Salmon Piccata (salmon prepared to a tender finish surrounded by an amazing white wine, lemon, capers, onion, and butter sauce; paired with Yukon Mash and wilted greens), España Appetizer (white Spanish anchovies, Mediterranean olives, and “drunken” goat cheese), and Mediterranean Calamari Steak (perfectly tender and tasty calamari steak you can cut with a butter knife, served alongside a sauce made of capers, onions, tomato, and olives sautéed in olive oil and garlic).
Make sure to pair these delectable dishes with some handcrafted cocktails like The Roaming Buffalo (Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Shrub, and soda) and The Siuslaw Sidecar (Bourbon, Lemon Juice, Maple Syrup, Cointreau, and Whiskey Barrel Bitters), local wines, or a craft beer.
Waterfront Depot Restaurant
Address: 1252 Bay Street Florence, OR 97439
Menu: [Waterfront Depot Restaurant}(http://thewaterfrontdepot.com/category/news-specials/)
10. Beachcomber Pub
Last but most certainly not least is the Beachcomber Pub, a casual dining restaurant and bar in Florence, Oregon. It was first established in 1936 and since then has been considered a “locals’ hangout” for its friendly vibe, attentive service, and expansive menu options. While it is best known for its amazing craft beer selection–there are always at least 20 on tap plus bottles and wine and cocktails (oh my)–the food is equally as good and will keep you coming back for more.
If you’re coming in for breakfast, try one of the traditional favorites like Cinnamon Roll Pancakes, Bacon and Eggs, The Barnum Benedict, or The Original Beachcomber Huevos Rancheros. You can also make your own omelet or get any kind of eggs however you want them; the options are literally endless. If you’re coming a bit ~later~ in the day, you will still have tons of choices to choose from.
While it may take you a solid 10 minutes just to read through the whole menu, some favorites are the Fat Tire “Beer-Battered” Prawns, Pub Style Burgers (with choices like the Inferno Burger, Beachcomber Garden Burger, and The Garbage Collector Big Burger), and you can’t forget about the beer! Since they serve a rotating menu with so many choices, it may be best to try a Craft Beer Sampler which includes 6 on-tap beers.
Address: 1355 Bay Street. Florence, Oregon 97439
Menu: Beachcomber Pub
But where will you go first?
I know it will be hard to choose… But no one says you can’t eventually get to them all.
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