Friday, September 25, 2009

Pacific City, a gem on the Oregon coast

Situated in an awkward spot roughly halfway between Lincoln City and Tillamook, Pacific city is a bit of a hidden gem and it contains several really interesting places to go.  First of all, if you want to stay there, you'll find a wonderful little Bed and Breakfast, the Craftsman Bed and Breakfast, but here's a warning for some of you.  If you like frills, cabbage rose draperies and lace doilies, this isn't the place for you.

If, on the other hand, you like clean lines, vintage Stickley-esque furniture (or maybe it's real Stickley, I've never asked), innkeepers who cater to your every whim and produce the best coffee cake I've ever had, then this is your place.  Fair warning, though.  There is no view unless you like looking at a pink bicycle (more about this later) and a kick-boxing bag.

Your hosts, Mike and Laura Rech are among the nicest people you'll ever meet and one of the reasons I decided to write this piece today is that Mike became the first follower of my little blog yesterday.  Thanks, Mike.  Unfortunately, their treasured and badly spoiled Weimaraner, Oscar Meier, went to doggie heaven not long ago so he won't be there to greet you, but I suspect he'll have a replacement before too long.  This is THE place to stay in Pacific City despite the glitzy look of the Inn at Cape Kiwanda, where you'll have to listen to the traffic out front all night and pay extra for the privilege.

Once you've decided where to stay you'll need to eat and drink, so let's get the drinking out of the way.  Take yourself a couple of blocks over to Twist Wine Co., a full service wine bar and memorial to those crazy days of beanbag chairs, beehive hairdos and vinyl records.  Pick a record from their giant collection and ask to have it played.  They'll accommodate you.

Twist is owned by two more friends, Sean and Chenin Carlton - she of the pink bicycle that she uses to get around town.  Chenin and I first met when she was about 8 years old (she doesn't remember, of course) and I used to visit her parents' winery in Temecula, CA, where her job was to buss the tables in the tasting room, picking up the empty wine glasses.  Her parents had planted the first wine grapevines in Temecula while her mother was pregnant with her, and she was named after one of the varieties, chenin blanc.

Chenin and I serendipitously re-connected after she had moved to Oregon and was working in the tasting room at the Cristom winery in the Eola-Amity Hills northwest of Salem.  I had just walked in, having no idea who she was, and she was telling someone else about having grown up in the wine business because her parents had planted the first vines in Temecula when I blurted out, "You're Chenin Cilurzo!"  She picked her chin off the floor, we had a laugh and we've been buddies ever since.

Chenin and Sean launched their winery, Basket Case, with the 2004 vintage and opened Twist a couple of years later so they'd have a retail outlet in addition to the farmers' markets where they sell their wine every week.  It's a fun place where you can not only taste (or drink) their fun and reasonably-priced wines but also some select beers, including the award-winning Double IPA Pliny the Elder, produced by Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, CA.  RRB just happens to be owned by her brother Vinnie and his wife Natalie.  Danger Will Robinson!  This stuff clocks in at a whopping 10% alcohol, so don't plan on driving anywhere if you've had more than one.

While we're on the subject of beer, down the road a piece, and overlooking Cape Kiwanda, is the Pelican Pub & Brewery.  They produce a full line of about a half dozen beers, all of which you can have in the pub, which offers a fairly ambitious menu of what I can only describe as upscale pub food.  This is not the food of Charlie Trotter, Jacque Pepin or Wolfgang Puck, but it's reliable and tasty if a little expensive.  After all, there's the view you're paying for.  Be prepared to wait.  The place is crowded, especially in the summertime.

Back in "uptown" Pacific City, and within walking distance of both the Craftsman and Twist, is the Delicate Palate Bistro. They offer upscale dining and an extremely well-chosen and extensive wine list.  You'll spend a little more money than if they were in downtown Portland because of the beach town location, but doesn't that always happen?  Be sure to ask for Geoff Williams and tell him where you heard about his restaurant.  He's good folks who likes to describe Pacific City as "a quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem".

There you go.  There are other places to eat around town and it's not horribly far to Lincoln City if you want to broaden your horizons or have an insatiable urge to gamble.  Just ask Mike, Laura, Chenin, Sean or Geoff.  They'll give you the scoop.


  1. The Craftsmen Bread and Breakfast sounds fabulous and I loved the reconnecting story about you and Chenin. Great post.

  2. We have reservations at The Craftsman Inn for early September. Today is my day to get specific about our time on the Oregon Coast. The comments in your blog have done two things for me: solidified my belief that Pacific City is our kind of place...enough beautiful scenery, interesting things to do, and good food to satisfy our adventurous palate, and... not enough tourists to taint the experience. Thanks for the insights.