Seafood in Oregon!
Last summer Don and I discovered Mo's, while traveling along the Oregon coast.
You have to love a cafe/diner with a name like Mo's. You also have to love a coastal cafe, with porthole windows!
Who is Mo?
If you Google "Who is Mo?" you get a former wrestling star and a Dubai-based Iranian YouTuber. There's also a Master Mo, who was a Chinese thinker... and then there's Moe from the 3 Stooges... if you add an "e".
But you have to search for a while to find Mo, as in Mohava Marie Niemi. Her name is better known to folks who live, or travel in Oregon. The image above shows the "crusty, chain smoking, town mother" who got into the seafood business in 1940.
Mo first got into the restaurant biz, in Newport's Bayfront area. The first restaurant with her name, is shown in the far left of this photo. This Mo's opened in 1946.
Don and I wandered down Bay Blvd, last July and absorbed some of the salty air along, with some of the salty characters.
Tourists and Workers
We were early enough to see more workers than tourists, as we strolled up and down the street. On the bayside, we peeked inside a couple seafood processing plants.
I wouldn't have minded pulling up a chair and just watching the work activity for a while.
Back to Mo's
It was too early for lunch, but we did take a look inside the old Mo's. I spotted lots of old photos on the wall. I also noticed that we weren't looking through a window, but a garage door. There's a story behind the garage door.
Year's ago, a woman parked in front of Mo's and put the car in drive, instead of reverse. When her car crashed into the cafe, the good natured Mo, put her arm around the worried driver and said, "Well, we'll just put in a garage door, so you can drive in anytime you want."
I was a little confused, when I realized there were 2 Mo's on Bay Blvd. This red building, was just across the street. It opened in 1968, overlooking Yaquina Bay.
Unfortunately, it was still too early to eat, but I took note. We'll plan around a Newport Mo's Meal, in the future.
Lucky for us, we stumbled across another Mo's in Cannon Beach. This one may not have had all the history of the other two, but it had an incredible beach view... even if you can't see it in this photo.
The interior reminded me of the seafood joints my family went to in Florida when I was a kid. I hated seafood when my family lived in Florida, but I still loved those places... and their hushpuppies.
This photo shows the amazing view. The restaurant is located on the beach in Tolovana Park, with views of Haystack Rock and wide open stretches of sandy beach.
You can also see the interior in this image. It was crowded on a July Monday.
Carry Out Orders
The wait was over an hour. I'm guessing this place is always crowded, but it was summer of 2021. Pandemic summer travel... staff shortages and long waits everywhere we stopped.
We were thrilled when we realized there was no line for ordering take out. Just looking at this menu now, makes me hungry! Should have ordered Slumgullion!
Where to Eat?
Before heading back outside to await our order, I had to dash over to take a photo of the best table in the house. Maybe that was being held for a VIP!
The Original Mo's in Newport had some famous customers, back in the day. Paul Newman loved the chowder. Robert Kennedy enjoyed a stop when he was on the campaign trip. We weren't VIPS, so we went outside to grab a picnic table.
Hot and Quick
Our take out meal was served up quickly and we found a great table.
Our picnic table, was right outside the reserved outdoor dining area. No waiting for us!
Cod Fish & Chips Plate
The view was spectacular and the meal was delicious.
As the photo shows, Don and I once again shared a feast. We've learned over the years, that we can feast more frequently, if we eat less.
Cole slaw with Shrimp! That was a treat! The crispy fish and the fries were perfect. We had just the right amount of food.
Back on the Road
After years of hearing about Cannon Beach, I'm glad we finally got to see the picturesque beach with the dramatic rocks.
Better yet, we had a mini seafood feast, while we absorbed the scenery. What a great stop, on our road trip!
Don and I learned about the historic town of Locke, during a recent visit to Sacramento.
The historic town is located in the California Delta, about 30 minutes south of Sacramento. We ended our memorable visit to the town, with a sweet little meal at Locke Garden.
Saturday in Locke
In July, Don and I visited our son and daughter-in-law in Sac, when they asked if we'd heard about the Chinese town of Locke. We hadn't, but we were intrigued.
We arrived on a warm Sunday morning. The little 10-acre town was very peaceful. We wandered and wondered about what this community was like, when it was established in 1915.
Locke is the only existing town in America, built and inhabited almost exclusively by Chinese. At one time the town was bustling with markets, canneries, shipping wharves, a post office and an opera house.
There were also slaughter houses, brothels, a speakeasy and gambling houses. It was amazing to see how little most of these building had changed, over time. Sadly there are only a few Chinese residents left, but luckily the community has been preserved.
We spent some time in the Museum Visitor Center, which was located in what had been a boarding house, for the seasonal labor workers.
We met photographer (and Locke resident) James Motlow, after we bought his book Bitter Melon, in the gift shop. This fascinating book includes photos he took of the Locke community, about 30 years ago. Now that I've read the book, I have so many more questions.
While we explored the town, we worked up an appetite. As far as I know, there are only 2 places to eat in Locke. Al the Wops, was on the Main Street. It looked like an intriguing old bar, (offering steaks and cocktails) but it had an awful name.
The place had some history for sure. Al Adami opened the first non-Chinese business in Locke, in 1934. Today, I think the place caters to bikers, which seems extra odd in this sweet community. But Al's was closed for a private affair.
This was our other option and this one made a lot more sense, in this historic Chinese town.
The sign on the side of the building was enough to lure me. I wonder when that sign was first hung?
First Building in Locke
This building was a little hidden. We found it between the Main Street and the River Road. Evidently it was the first building in Locke. It opened as a beer hall, in 1912.
The sign said the restaurant opened at 11, but the dear woman who seemed to be running things herself, asked us to come back later. I believe her husband had a toothache and she was a little behind.
We returned and entered the colorful restaurant/shop. There wasn't an option for inside dining, due to Covid. But we studied the menu and placed an order for carryouts.
I so wanted to peek around, to see what was for sale on the shelves, but the dining tables were moved to make a protective barrier. We paid up and headed outside to wait.
Dining Under the Metal Roof
The old building looked more like a storefront from the old west. We found a couple tables on the porch under the tin roof.
The old crooked tree in front added lots of character. I wonder if that tree was there, when the old beer hall was first built.
Lunch in a Box
The dear woman who took our order (and most likely cooked it) finally arrived on the porch carrying a cardboard box.
We pulled the Styrofoam containers, plates and plasticware out of the box. The food would have been tastier if it hadn't been served on Styrofoam, but we were happy to have our freshly cooked feast.
Our Moo Shu Pork was a treat. The Kung Pao Chicken was good as well. But, next time we need to remember to order rice.
As we enjoyed our little porch feast, we peered up the wooden walkway and wondered about the buildings beyond. It looked like we were peeking into the " backyards" of the 2-story buildings that faced Main Street. I wanted to wander up those steps and snoop.
But that seemed pretty intrusive, so I didn't.
Instead, I let my zoom lens peek up there for me. What a sweet old neon sign! What pretty purple flowers, growing over the red pipe.
Not Enough Time
We clearly didn't have enough time to absorb this wonderful community.
The pandemic also limited our ability to interact. We definitely need to return to Locke! Who knows, maybe the Moon Cafe will reopen someday and we can have another dining adventure!
I spotted this sign from I-5 a few years ago, on our travels. I was intrigued.
Arrowhead sign! Chinook Room? Gigantic letters spelling RESTAURANT!
Last summer, Don and I made a stop on our drive from Portland to Washington.
This time when we pulled in, I notice a few palms in front. That seemed odd for the state of Washington. But Kalama is named for a native Hawaiian, who settled here in the 19th century. Palms fit the theme.
We could see a little more of the building, when we approached from the parking lot.
It seemed to be sandwiched right in between the freeway and the mountainside. The Columbia River was just on the other side of the freeway Such a pretty area.
Elvis and Jack
The faces of Elvis and Jack Benny, were hanging out behind the roses.
I couldn't wait to hear the stories about when these two "famous visitors" came to Columbia Inn.
There was lots to see as we headed towards the door.
Neon signs and an American flag. A totem pole along near a retro "cocktails" sign.
At 1:30, the cafe was empty of diners. Don and I peeked around quickly at the available dining areas. Love those octagonal windows!
And rounded walls! This place had a bit of a mid-century look, although I think there was a fire at some point that prompted some updates.
You have to love a menu with a slogan. "Bringing families together one meal at a time since 1955" You also have to love a menu with special prices for diners 55 and up!
I ordered a half sandwich with a cup of beef noodle soup for $10.95. That wasn't actually too tasty and not much of a bargain. Don's omelet was a little better. But this little dining adventure was not really about food.
You can see the OYO Hotel behind Don, through the window. There was a fun story behind that.
Columbia Inn in 1962
The Oyo Hotel looked pretty dull today, but I found an internet story about the motel in 1962, when it was called Columbia Inn. It was evidently in the middle of the night when Elvis arrived at the Columbia Motel. They were on their way to Seattle to film "It Happened at the the World's Fair".
Elvis and his gang rented rooms. In the morning he ordered a feast of breakfast foods from the cafe, to be delivered to the motel. It was the biggest dining bill that the restaurant ever had. (Biggest phone bill as well!)
Grandpa Spot Elvis
I asked our waitress and she had more scoop for us. She was too young to know much about Elvis, but her ex-boyfriend's grandfather did.
He happened to be on his bike delivering papers, early on that morning in 1962. He spotted activity in the motel parking lot and quickly alerted friends. She said the fans flocked and Elvis was actually gracious, greeting and signing autographs.
The Other Guy
The other "famous person on the sign, didn't have quite as big a story.
Jack Benny was traveling back in the day, when he stopped to use the phone. Oh those pre-cell-phone-days! He ended up sticking around for a slice of pie and a cup of coffee. He didn't have cash, so he wrote a check and teased that he knew the pie was free. "I know you'll never cash this check!" Cute!
After eating I had to get a peek at the Chinook Room. I know there's a lot of history in this lounge. There's also a lot of history with the Chinook Native American people in this region.
But no history was revealed. The area mostly just looked like a bar. There were no signs of the old Chinook Lounge, that might have had some interesting decor, back in the fifties.
Instead of Northwestern Native art, or even some kind of tropical Hawaiian theme, there was just a little sports decor. Oddly, the decor was upward, located in clear windows, in the ceiling.
Columbia Inn Memories
Our little dining adventure was not about the food, or even the inside decor. I'll always remember the retro exterior and our sweet conversation with our young server. When I asked about how hard it had been with the pandemic, she tried to be positive. She luckily got married in March 2020, right before they had to shut down the restaurant. She talked about the support of the town, especially when they were able to open for carryouts.
Pandemic talk led to school closings... which led to her own high school memories. "You know the movie Twilight?" She asked. Then we heard how her local high school was transformed for a whole semester, to be the school in the movie. What a hoot to hear about her memories of the stars, in her very school. I didn't even think to ask if they ended up with any Twilight dining guests, during that period!
So off we went, thinking about this small town with it's small cafe. So many interesting happenings for a little community. Glad we got to hear a few stories!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.