A dish to remember — check out these bars with unusual foods

From fried pickles to BBQ pork cheese fries, test your palette with some new flavors. (Photo illustration/Kenneth Osborn)

By Andrea Harvey, Rachel Benner, Ally Taylor and Kira Hoffelmeyer.

Sometimes you just need to escape the campus bar scene to, you know, treat yo’ self. Or maybe your parents are coming into town or you want to take your date to a not-so-fancy fancy place. It might be nice to walk over to Rennie’s to get your cheesy bacon tater tots or to Taylor’s to get a bacon bleu cheese burger. But be honest with yourself — it’s time to try something new. Impress your parents with your new, refined palette.

Don’t know where to go or what to eat when you get there? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Elkhorn Brewery

This gastropub and brewery specializes in Southern dishes with a local twist. Both the beer and the food are crafted with careful attention to the way that each individual flavor plays off the other. The prices lean a bit toward pricey for a campus location, but it’s well worth it, considering the extra time that was clearly put into creating these one-of-a-kind specials.

If you’re a foodie who loves Southern food, burgers, sandwiches and beer (of course), then this place is for you. A highly recommended sandwich is The Rachel: Between two slices of sourdough, the shaved smoked turkey, cilantro-lime coleslaw, swiss cheese and remoulade sauce offer a variety of flavors that balance each other out — the cool flavors of cilantro and lime contrast with the heartiness of the turkey and swiss and the mild heat of the remoulade.

You won’t be disappointed, that’s for sure.

Other recommended dishes:

Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese ($14.95)

Waffle Chicken Sammy ($13.95)

Recommended “Pub Grub”:

Smoked Spanish Sardines ($7.95)

Frickles ($6.95, vegetarian)

Crawfish Hushpuppies ($8.95)

686 E Broadway St., Eugene. Open Tuesday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday until 11 p.m., and Sundays until 9 p.m. Closed on Mondays. 

Falling Sky Brewing House

At first glance, the menu for Falling Sky Brewing House looks pretty standard. There are sandwiches, burgers, chicken wings and a few salads. Nothing too out of the ordinary. Look a little closer, and you can find some hidden gems.

How does a pastrami taco sound? How about BBQ pork cheese fries? Well, muster up all your self-control, bypass a tantalizing (and typical) sandwich and take the plunge.

Whoever decided it was a good idea to make a taco with chunks of pastrami isn’t entirely insane. A single order gets you two street-style tacos with corn tortillas, white bean spread, cotilla cheese, salsa and in this case, a hearty portion of pastrami meat. You might initially turn up your nose at this incongruous pairing of tacos and pastrami. Whether or not pastrami is meant to be mixed with salsa, the meat itself was delicious. After you finished your first taco, you’ll surely be reaching for the second. Are the pastrami tacos worth eating every time? Maybe, if only to see the horrified looks on your friends’ faces when you place your order. 

BBQ pork cheese fries aren’t the most visually appetizing snack. Picture a plate of fries drenched in creamy beer-cheese sauce and topped with a rather lurid red mound of BBQ meat. Your vegetarian friend might watch with mild disgust as you dig in with a fork (because that’s how you eat cheese fries, right?).

Don’t let this reaction deter you, though. This vaguely bizarre combo was one of the best junk food indulgences ever. You may have to spend an extra hour or two at the gym this week, but the crispy fries, savory sauce and tangy meat were well worth the torture on the treadmill later.

Some other recommended dishes:

Field Burger ($11)

Chicken Riggies ($12)

Lamb Burger ($13)

Recommended “Pub Grub”:

Pastrami Cheese Fries ($9)

Honey-Za’atar Chicken Wings ($8)

Pumpkin Hummus ($6)

1334 Oak Alley, Eugene. Open Sunday-Wednesday 11 a.m.-12 a.m., Thursday-Saturday until 1 a.m.

Izakaya Meiji

This Japanese tavern is known for its selection of carefully crafted and equally adventurous food and drinks.

The website for the restaurant actually states that Shiokara is a dish “not for the faint of heart.” The food is essentially squid guts and other marine animal parts in a brown sort of paste. The texture alone is pretty crazy and even when presented beautifully, the taste is off-putting. The website also suggests one should chase it with sake or shochu.

Based on the taste alone, the Kinpira was pretty normal. The spiciness however, was a little tough to take in a bar setting. It was hard to enjoy a drink when you have to drink as much water as possible to combat the spicy nature of the dish. The recipe uses seasonal vegetables and leek, sauteed with togarashi and sesame oil. It is a pretty great noodle dish, but be warned — it’s not easy to multi-task while eating this.

Normally, a spinach salad is simple. But Goma Ae is served cold with sesame sauce drizzled over it. Cold and wet spinach can be hard to weather at a bar, but the dish offsets nicely with their custom drinks.

These dishes were all still great, but took the attention away from my carefully made drinks. Thankfully, there is an entire restaurant section and a full, delicious menu to choose from.

Some other recommended dishes:

Pork & Tofu with Red Miso ($7)

Shiitake kushiyaki with miso butter ($4)

Pork Tonkatsu ($7)

Recommended “Pub Grub”:

Asparagus with Yuzu butter ($5)

Ika Saute ($6)

345 Van Buren, Eugene. Open daily 5 p.m.-1 a.m.

Follow Andrea Harvey, Ally Taylor, Rachel Benner and Kira Hoffelmeyer on Twitter.

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