Although Sweetwaters (1000 Valley River Way, 541/687-0123, $19–36) is basically a fancy hotel restaurant, it is an easy and pretty tasty bet for those staying at the Valley River Inn, and its riverside outdoor deck might offer Eugene ’s most delightful dining experience on a warm summer night. Be sure to take a sweater—it cools down fast at night.
Vying with Sweetwaters for Eugene’s most scenic restaurant river frontage is the McMenamins’ North Bank (22 Club Rd., 541/343-5622, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–midnight Fri.–Sat., noon–11 p.m. Sun., $8–20). With an outdoor deck, picturesque windows overlooking the Willamette, and a moderately priced menu of quality pub grub featuring everything from eggplant sandwiches to the Communication Breakdown Burger, this is a place to experience how Oregon’s preeminent brewpub-meisters have made dining fun. Should wintertime mist obscure the river views, you’ll appreciate the penchant of the Brothers M for eccentric woodwork and wistful murals.