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There are tons of reasons to love Oregon’s southern gem, Ashland: fun cultural festivals, urban parks and green spaces, museums, and small-town farms. However, the true hero of the Ashland scene (in our opinion), is its food. In a rare confluence of ample local ingredients, inventive menus, hometown hospitality, and a humble taste for ambiance, the town’s restaurants deserve some credit. For the best of Ashland, Oregon restaurants, here’s our hand-picked list.
If your restaurant is still thriving with an avid following in tow after 33 years, you’re doing something right. The Greenleaf Restaurant, located adjacent to Calle Guanajuato Park and steps from Lithia Park, has been one of Ashland’s culinary staples for over three decades. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and offers an array of options for vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free customers. Greenleaf prides itself on its locally-sourced ingredients (including local wines and beers), as well as a fun ambiance and friendly staff. Also, with outdoor seating, it makes for a great spot to enjoy Ashland on a sunny day.
Standing Stone Brewing Company
Competing in the brewing industry in the all-hailed Pacific Northwest is no small endeavor. With so many options for a good pint of beer, it’s hard to pick one that stands out from the pack. When it comes to Ashland, Oregon, Standing Stone Brewing Company considers this problem solved. In 1997 they set out to open a space that deconstructs the traditional restaurant-client relationship. Customers feel like friends, employees feel like family, and the farm makes the whole operation feel self-made. Plus, what’s also probably worth mentioning — the beer is excellent. Their brews comprise a full range of options from ales to lagers, all of which contain at least 85% organic products. For the beer enthusiasts, the Holiday Ale Fest in Portland is a must-visit, and it’s one of the Five Beer Festivals You Can’t Miss.
Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine
As the name suggests, Larks Home Kitchen is probably the best option in Ashland that combines the excitement of eating out with the comfort of staying in. The dishes are excellent interpretations of home cooking classics that don’t feel too pretentious nor too basic. Excellent sandwiches and soups for lunch, tasty fish and meat (see: Kobe beef) options for dinner, ambitious desserts, and a reasonably-priced wine list. They also have specialized menus for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so feel free to pay Larks a visit for a holiday (that won’t leave you feeling guilty). After brunch, consider checking out one of the 7 Most Beautiful Hikes in Oregon.
Ashland has its fair share of Mexican restaurants, but we’ll venture to say that none are quite as exciting as the new Plancha, located across from the Varsity Theater on East Main Street. Here, they boast the culinary staples that absolutely cannot be left off a Mexican menu — tacos al pastor, fish tacos, fresh guacamole, homemade salsas, and margaritas — as well as get pretty ambitious with dishes. Breakfast is out of this world with options like migas, chilaquiles, breakfast tacos, and pulled pork on top of a masa waffle. Slow-roasted goat is an occasional special, and camarones y ceviche con jicama is a fresh option for a clean and healthy lunch. Also, there are over 50 vintage tequilas to choose from, so be prepared to spend some time here. Plancha takes the claim as southern Oregon’s first and only modern Mexican and tequila venue.
Hearsay is one of those chic, elegant places you bring out-of-towners to in order show them how cool of a city you live in (and thus, how cool you are). The venue has an old-timey, jazzy speakeasy vibe with an outdoor garden and a profoundly upholstered lounge that feels like the perfect backdrop for brokering a deal with an infamous criminal. Dive into meaty options like citrus-chili short ribs and double ranch rib eye, or seafood gems like tequila prawns and Szechuan calamari. The staff are extremely nice, and it wouldn’t be fair to not mention their happy hour that’s held every day, starting at 4:30 pm.
Located in downtown Ashland, Tot is one of the best options for Asian cuisines in the city. Inspired by Vietnamese and Thai street food, here you’ll find mouth-watering ramens, bahn mi sandwiches, and a slew of coconut-based classics. They also offer vegetarian dishes and solid gluten-free options for all the folks who feel lost in this big glutinous world. In general, tot urges you to not overthink the food — just taste it. It’s great quality and comes from excellent local sources, so don’t treat it like a science experiment. If it’s Eastern cuisine you’re after, get a little more ambitious with your gastro-tourism and check out the Top 5 Cities for Asian Food.
Wiley’s World Pasta Shoppe & Eatery
It’s safe to say this one is decidedly not for the gluten-sensitive. Wiley’s World Pasta Shoppe has been serving up delicious homemade pasta dishes for over two decades, and its avid following indicates it’s not stopping anytime soon. Mix and match your way to pasta heaven with basil walnut pesto, roasted olives, sundried tomatoes, garlic, more garlic, and an array of fishes and home-baked breads. The restaurant has a cozy and friendly atmosphere, so don’t be ashamed to show up solo and go to town on a bowl of saucy deliciousness.