This week, the Warrenton Warrior and Astoria Fisherman co-author their top picks for Top 10 Restaurants in Astoria, Oregon.
Astoria is one of the leading culinary destinations of Clatsop County, boasting over 8 restaurants that provide cloth napkins to their customers.
Astoria is also home to the famous Astoria Fisherman, a local expert in antiquated gillnetting techniques as well as a libertine and gourmand. The Warrenton Warrior invited the Astoria Fisherman to provide local-market knowledge and objectivity in this investigation. Given all of the extremely critical feedback of the Warrior’s evaluation of the Warrenton dining scene, he wanted to make sure he absolutely nails this one.
There are a few things worth noting before we get started. First, it’s the middle of crab season, so the Astoria Fisherman is working pretty long days on the back deck, working the block, listening to speed metal and forgoing basic hygiene. So, he’s burning a lot of calories, his underwear has fused to his sweatpants, and he smells just like the calamari that’s currently rotting in his bait cups at the bottom of the sea. Second, he’s making good cash this season, but it’s all going towards child support back-payments and legal fees surrounding some sort of charity fraud. So, he’s also on a tight-budget.
Taken together, the Fisherman is focused on maximizing calorie-to-dollar ratios in casual dining environments. So don’t go complaining if the Fisherman wasn’t able to review Astoria’s fancy Michelin-starred, waterfront restaurants. Ruth Reichl can do that when she comes to town.
Similarly, the Warrenton Warrior doesn’t want to hear your sniveling when your favorite restaurant in Astoria, Oregon doesn’t make the list. He doesn’t go there very often, is unfamiliar with many of the new restaurants, and (obviously) doesn’t want to just “make stuff up.”
So here you go, you ungrateful bastards:
11. Pig N Pancake
Known simply as “The Pig” by the locals, this restaurant has great signage, and a mid-century diner layout that millennials are trying very hard to kill.
The Pig is famous on the North Coast for hosting a prestigious rotation of regional chefs twice annually. This keeps the menu fresh and relevant, since each chef constructs a new menu during their tenure.
The one constant at Pig N Pancake is a very long line for brunch. But unlike some interminable brunch lines, the wait always feels like it’s worth it, whether you’re digging into the seasonally appointed breakfast sandwich (currently a sunny-side egg-laden pork loin with kale, ‘nduja vinaigrette, and winter squash mostarda) or something on the sweeter end of the spectrum like pumpkin bread French toast with pear, candied walnuts, and orange-brandy pastry cream.
What to order: The sweet-tea brined fried chicken & buckwheat cheddar waffles, dusted with dehydrated Clatsop county lemons and Tillamook county honey tabasco.
Why the Astoria Fisherman likes it: “I can order a single cup of coffee and hang out there for hours. They don’t really hassle you there.”
Address: Across from the old House of Chan, a few blocks west of Mini Mart
Reservations: Good luck
10. The Taco Time at Mini Mart
While you wait in the brunch line at the Pig, you should walk a few minutes east on Commercial St. and grab a Crisp Pinto Bean Burrito at Taco Time at Mini Mart.
The Crisp Pinto Bean Burrito is best described as creamy beans packed in a fried, flour-tortilla tube. Eat one or two while you wait for brunch. Nobody is judging you.
What to order: Did you not read this?
Why the Astoria Fisherman likes it: “Really good calorie-to-dollar ratio and the luke-warm, creamy beans feel good when there are sores in my mouth.”
Address: Down the street from Pig ‘N Pancake
Reservations: Yes, please. Let me know if you can find the number.
9. Food Trucks at Shively Park
Ever wonder how the really mediocre food trucks in downtown Portland, Oregon at 10th and Alder stay in business? It’s because they have a devoted base of culinary ambivalent customers at Shively Park every other weekend.
Portland sends its finest here and Astorians can’t get enough, whether it’s the unseasoned and unidentifiable over-cooked ‘halal’ meats on vertical spits, or the 30 different types of “vegan bowls” these trucks offer.
No other food truck scene offers such a diverse range of world foods, all indifferently prepared.
What to order: The Bamino Bowl at “The Whole Bowl” All “The Whole Bowl” bowls are nut, gluten, wheat, hydrogenated oil and guilt free and come with brown rice, black and red beans, avocado, cilantro, black olives, Tillamook cheddar, sour cream, salsa and Tali Sauce. Vegan? Simply ask your Bowlista to “veganize” it (you sicko).
Why the Astoria Fisherman likes it: “When I do something bad and I don’t deserve to do nice things, I go here.”
Address: Shively Park Road
Reservations: No. 2nd and 4th Fridays and Saturdays each month. Be there.
8. Custard King
Have you ever wanted to be ruled by an omnipotent, custardy king?
Here’s your chance.
King Custard founded this alternative to Dairy Queen in 1936, when he suspected the rise of Facisim might lead to global conflict and an influx of ship manufacturing in Astoria, Oregon. Like any great businessperson, he could always see around the corner, and knew that the booming workforce would need to fuel in the form of custard.
Custard King serves, more or less, the same types of items you might find at its main rival across Young’s Bay, Dairy Maid. But Custard King is unique in one way: it has boatloads of hard-serve ice cream flavors, including some that will disclolor your stool for days at a time.
King Custard also knows how to friggin’ shred:
Why the Astoria Fisherman likes it: “The black licorice ice cream they used to have. That stuff used to make my toilet bowl black for, like, 2 or 3 days after eating it. They definitely use the real stuff.”
Address: Marine Drive, just like every other place in Astoria.
7. The River Cafe at Columbia Memorial Hospital
Have you ever visited Columbia Memorial Hospital, or even passed by it, and asked, “is there a food court in here?”
There is, and it’s amazing. Columbia Memorial Hospital is the home of the world-famous River Cafe, Ruth Rogers’s legendary Italian “canteen” in the hard-to-get-to innards of Columbia Memorial Hospital. The tables are filled with a who’s who of Clatsop County’s most interesting people, who come regularly not only for the flawlessly simple, seasonal Italian food, but also for the impeccable service. Chances are high that the next April Bloomfield, Jamie Oliver, or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is in the kitchen right now. You might faint when you look at the prices ($25 pasta?), but have an Aperol spritz and persevere. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime meal.
What to order: Penne rigatello — delicately diced summer courgettes and al dente tubes in a claggy, starchy sauce, bright with lemon and herb-flecked cheese.
Why The Astoria Fisherman likes it: “I’m not sure I do. It’s a little out of my price range.”
Address: Below the mezzanine at Columbia Memorial Hospital
6. Forager Fridays on Cathedral Tree Trail
Local legend Mick Dodge offers a free foraging course on the first Friday each month at Cathedral Tree Trail. Join him to learn how to identify and sustainably harvest mushrooms, nettles, shellfish, berries, sea veggies, and more.
Why the Astoria Fisherman likes it: “You end up burning more calories with Mick than you take in with the fiddleheads and lichen that he eats… It’s a good way to shed winter fat and get ready for pink shrimp season”.
Address: Cathedral Tree Trailhead, first Friday of each month at 10:00 am.
Reservations: First come, first served.
5. Hong Kong Restaurant & Lounge
The Hong Kong Lounge offers an authentic Cantonese dining experience, with private rooms for diners and an extensive menu of fresh seafood from 5 large salt-water tanks, prepared ike jime and very delicious.
What to order: The baked black cod. There are so many dishes on their menu but this one stands out. The fish has a sweet and salty glaze and is cooked so perfectly that it melts in your mouth.
Why the Astoria Fisherman likes it: “They have Keno and I like to play that.”
Address: You guessed it. On Marine Drive.
Reservations: Oh yeah.
4. The Safeway on 12th and Duane
Safeway on 12th and Duane specializes in deli-to-belly dining. Cozy up to the bar and order a draft Sapporo, chicken liver skewers, karaage and other izakaya delights.
Address: 12th and Duane, just two blocks away from Marine Drive.
3. House of Chan
The House of Chan is a Chinese restaurant. Or, at least, it is a version of a Chinese restaurant. The main dining room was designed in the traditional Northern Oregon Coast style of “no windows in the dining room.”
Because the tables are relatively private and contain a lazy susan, this was the main hub for Astoria business wheeling and dealing in the cocaine-fueled 1980s. Countless contracts and thinly-veiled threats drafted on paper napkins have been passed from one business luminary to another on House of Chan’s lazy susans.
Why The Astoria Fisherman likes it: “It’s dark inside. People mind their own business in there.”
Address: Just seconds away from Marine Drive, near Pig ‘N Pancake and Taco Time at Mini Mart.
2. Eleven Madison Park
This freshly minted dining room displays the virtues of symmetry, with not so much as a chair pushed out of its proper place. Everything is custom made, from the staff’s Todd Snyder suits to the handblown water vases. Other significant changes include a paring down of crowds—they now cater to a smaller audience. This is all evidence of Chef Daniel Humm’s masterful precision that extends through the cuisine as it artfully unfolds before each guest. In place of a menu, servers offer a brief description of the night’s meal, along with a few selections that you are invited to make. Courses are so well conceived that they often seem as continuations of the same dish. Revel over flaky brioche with scallop gelée-crowned butter, before moving on to the purest tasting of scallop slivers set over uni in an ice-cold shell. This kitchen’s signature way with delicate presentations reaches a peak in a tin of caviar served with smoked ham custard, Hollandaise sabayon and mini English muffins. Specialties arrive by trolley, perhaps bearing a shaved truffle-topped flatbread brushed with aged-cheddar sauce, which when removed goes on to reveal stuffed wild mushrooms in an intense broth.
The one gripe that the Warrior and the Fisherman have with this place is the joyless education that is a centerpiece to the dining experience. After a recent visit, the waiter provided us with 5 numbered chocolates, a pencil, and a pad with 5 animals written on it (buffalo, cow, goat, sheep, nutria). The waiter asked us to match the chocolate to the type of animal that produced its milk. We both only got nutria correct, and the waiter proceeded to lecture us on how to distinguish the fat content and flavours of the other milks. Good idea in practice, but you don’t go to these places to be condescended to. I don’t know just isn’t the sort of experiential dining I want to have– where I look like an idiot because I only recognize the taste of Nutria milk.
What to order: They only do one tasting menu.
Why The Astoria Fisherman likes it: “The nutria milk [chocolate].”
Address: On Marine Drive
1. Fultano’s Pizza
Oh yeah. You knew this was coming. The Warrior and the Fisherman don’t always see eye-to-eye. But we absolutely agree on one thing: When the Fisherman goes to prison and is on death-row, Fultano’s will be his last meal.
I don’t think any native Astorian will be surprised that Fultano’s is #1 on this list. Founded by someone with the last name, “Fulton” who added an “o” to their name to appeal to a more discerning dining clientele, Astoria’s Fultano’s is one of the oldest and arguably best Fultano’s. Their pizza doesn’t resemble the types of pies you’d find in Italy, New York, Portland, Warrenton, Seaside, Olney, or Longview. They create pizza’s best described as a heavy load supported by a firmly-structured cornmeal crust. Hats off to you, Fulton family.
What to order: The Michelangelo and the Mona Lisa. The “Sistine Chapel” and the “Leonardo” are secret items on the menu, featuring a clever inversion of the ingredients on the Florence/Tuscan-inspired Michelangelo and the protein-centric Mona Lisa.
Address: Just a few hundred feet from W. Marine Drive, in one of Astoria and Warrenton’s disputed territories.
Reservations Recommended: no
There you go. Top 10 restaurants in Astoria, Oregon!!!
One thought on “Top 10 Restaurants in Astoria, Oregon”
Over these past weeks nestled snugly into a few recent months
I’ve come to rely on the epicurean scrivening of the Warrenton Warrior vis a vis the piquant delicacies he has brought to the awareness of my palate both those conjured in the cuisines of Clatsop County and/or foraged for under tufts of beach grass in Ft Steven’s such as Cyanescens Astoriensis which pair nicely with a hardy portion of Hammond Rosealee’s
“Blessed Herring” so now I’m really hooked. Verily I say unto you that combination omega 3 fatty acids and trance inducing alkaloids, despite making me a little paranoid has my synapses igniting vollies of grandiose fantasy, at light speed, across the corpus callosum of my now completely blown bicameral mind. THANK YOU FOR THAT!!!
Regarding also your expertise on Clatsop County flora and fawna such as skunk cabbage,
nutria, Roosevelt Elk, Beaver, water lillies and the like, your akin to a local yokel, although some what younger version of Pliney the Elder, Charles Darwin or at least Steve Irwin minus the ray stinger in the heart, hopefully not ever! But Natural Selection is not now what it was in the days of Darwin when shorter life expectancy was de riguer nor therefore can we be sure consequently how much older Pliny the Elder may have really been compared to your present age now given currently your incipient graying around the temples. But then that’s a verbose discussion for a different day, right Warrenton Warrior? I’m sure you can hardly wait.