After a period of turbulence, including a several-month closure, Cafe Zenon (898 Pearl St., 541/684-4000, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Fri.–Sat., 5–10 p.m. Sun., $16–23) is once again serving lunch and dinner at the corner of Pearl and Broadway. For those who remember the Zenon of old, the menu has been scaled down but is similar, with a multiethnic focus, but the dining room is a bit quieter, thanks to some much-needed soundproofing. This is a convivial and generally affordable place to dine on Thai yam curry ($16) while your companions eat posole and black-bean enchiladas ($17) or roasted rack of lamb ($23).
Near the corner of Pearl and Broadway are several other noteworthy restaurants, including Full City Coffee (842 Pearl St., 541/344-0475), several doors down, which can be counted on to sustain you with the best coffee in a town. Famous for its daily grind, this is one of several locations in town. If a light breakfast will do, have a scone at the adjacent Palace Bakery (844 Pearl St., 541/484-2435).
At Ambrosia (174 Broadway, 541/342-4141, 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m. Fri., 4:30–11 p.m. Sat., 4:30–9:30 p.m. Sun., $11–20), antique furnishings and stained glass set the stage for Italian cuisine prepared to suit contemporary tastes. The individual-size wood oven–baked gourmet pizzas, a wonderful calamari appetizer, a great wine list, and northern Italian specialties will make spaghetti and meatballs seem like old hat.
In the heart of downtown, Poppi’s Anatolia (992 Willamette St., 541/343-9661, 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Fri., 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5–10 p.m. Sat., 5–9:30 p.m. Sun., $10–16) features Greek and Indian food par excellence. Spicy curries and vindaloo chicken are complemented by saganaki (fried cheese), spanakopita (spinach cheese pie), and gyro sandwiches. The best baklava in town with a shot of ouzo or retsina can finish off a richly flavored and moderately priced repast.
At the southwestern edge of downtown Eugene , Cafe Soriah (384 W. 13th Ave., 541/342-4410, 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–10 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–11 p.m. Fri., 5–11 p.m. Sat., 5–10 p.m. Sun., $14–32) is a popular choice for a romantic dinner or weekday business lunch. Both its patio for summer outdoor dining and its bar topped a local restaurant poll for ambience, but the Mediterranean–Middle Eastern cuisine is the real attraction. Moussaka and various dishes featuring chicken and lamb with vegetables sautéed in olive oil stand out.
Newman’s (1545 Willamette St., 541/344-2371, 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Sat., $6–8) is a fish market with a walk-up fish-and-chips window. Here you can get gourmet renditions of salmon, halibut, and cod with chips.
A block south from the Vets Club on the corner of Willamette is Euphoria Chocolate Co. (6 W. 17th Ave., 541/343-9223), a chocolatier of national repute. Their Grand Marnier truffle and other confections are sold around town. Come here after holidays and buy the bite-size Santas, hearts, and bunnies at reduced prices.
If you just want to grab a bagel and some tofu pâté, stop by the Kiva (125 W. 11th Ave., 541/342-8666), a funky but well-stocked natural foods store.