Bell Buoy Seafood
In August, Don and I traveled to the Oregon coast for an overnight, with family.
Before reaching the town of Seaside, our daughter Heidi had figured out lunch. A place with BUOY in the name. We drove past this colorful crab sign and circled back.
Buoy's Best Restaurant
It was confusing. The little restaurant sits right next to the seafood market.
The restaurant had a slightly different name. It didn't have nearly as much character as the market's neon sign. But Heidi assured us, the reviews were good.
We were lucky to find a parking spot, when we pulled off Hwy 101. The road and lot were crowded, on a August Sunday at noon.
We headed up the steps and I made sure to appreciate the art.
Deck with View
Heidi and I laughed when we stepped out to the dining deck.
We were just minutes from the stunning Pacific coast, yet we were about to eat lunch looking out over a somewhat swampy-looking creek.
Food & Photos
But Heidi knows her parents. We like fun, authentic places. We were more focused on food and the menu had lots to choose from. Everything from halibut to razor clams.
I of course had to take a peek at the wall photos. There were only a few seats inside and the space was fairly full of folks ordering, but I peeked around and admired old fishing photos.
The space was small enough that it would have been intrusive to snap photos in people's faces.
My one room photo shows a door to the kitchen and a man filling orders. Every once in a while, he reached over and stirred a big pot of clam chowder.
Heidi brought our 18 month old granddaughter out to the deck. We'd been telling her during our drive that we were taking her to the beach. (as if she knew what that meant)
Charlie seemed to squeal with delight when she saw the water. Maybe it was a bird she saw, or the feel of the air. Who knows, but we were all pretty amused that this murky water appeared to bring her such joy.
It seemed to take forever until our order was carried out on a plastic tray. The guys were working hard to handle the sudden rush of folks who arrived when we did.
The 4 adults feasted on fried cod, with french fries and coleslaw. The slaw had a secret ingredient that I thought was extra tasty. Was that pineapple? Not sure, but I'm a lover of slaw and this worked for me.
Crab Cakes for Charlie
More and more people filled the deck and some tables below on the grass. We were tucked in at the far end, with Charlie seated in the stroller.
Charlie couldn't have been happier with her first crab cakes. Surprising, since they were strongly seasoned.
Sometimes you end a meal with a sweet treat. Instead, we went next door.
The little market has been here for 76 years. We decided it was worth a stop.
Case O' Fish
We spent a little time studying the fresh seafood on ice. I wish I'd gotten the name of the wonderful woman who chatted with us.
She told us she'd been working there for 20 years... or maybe it was more. She praised the family owned business, which sells seafood sourced within 50 miles. We bought some peppered salmon jerky and some smoked teriyaki salmon strips for later.
We were off after our quick seafood lunch adventure.
Off to the beach where Charlie's grin got even bigger!
Lunch at the Station
I love old gas stations.
This one caught my eye as we drove through the town of La Grande, last summer.
Don and I were over halfway, driving from Portland to Boise, Idaho. If the year had been 1959, we could have stopped and bought some gas.
But it was August 2022, and there was no gas at the old Texaco. However, we could buy ice cream, coffee and sandwiches. It was food that we actually needed.
This is how the Texaco looked, back in the day. There were 3 pumps and 3 garage doors.
I'm not clear about when the Texaco became The Local. But today, the open-air, covered drive. (behind the pumps) is a fresh, air-conditioned room where you can order ice cream and coffee.
Sweets and Caffeine
We were looking for lunch when we entered this bright space.
The smells of handcrafted ice cream and specialty coffees, filled the room.
Before ordering food, I made a trip to the Ladies Room. As a kid I dreaded creepy bathrooms at gas stations, especially when you had to borrow some grubby key. But I was excited about this one. It was the original, with mint green tile.
Luckily the restroom was as clean as the ice cream/coffee shop. And I didn't have to obtain a key. However they had the old keys on display. Love it!
We inquired about lunch and were directed to the "garage" area.
First we took a peek at the patio. it was a beautiful day and there were some families and a couple sweet dogs. Such a comfortable setting.
Into the Garage
We headed towards the open garage doors. Surely those come down in the winter months.
My eyes were drawn to the bright green Adirondack chairs. If only we'd had lots of time to kill, I would have loved kicking back in those chairs with a cup of coffee.
Relaxed, Clean and Friendly
I loved the comfy vibe. There were people sitting near a fireplace. (unlit) A few worked quietly at laptops. Most of the people looked like locals, who come regularly.
We ordered our food from 2 "youngins" behind the counter. They were probably students at Eastern Oregon University. Couldn't have been nicer.
Payphone at the Station
There was an old payphone near the counter. I asked the 2 if the old phone actually worked. They both laughed like they'd never heard that question. They invited me to try.
I asked if either had ever used one and the young girl never had. The guy said he did once, but it didn't have a dial. I have a good story from when I was 16 and used payphone at a gas station, in a sketchy part of Detroit. There wasn't enough time to share that long story!
Signs of the Past
We waited for our order and I looked around the place looking for evidence, that this really once was a gas station. It seemed too clean. I spotted a drain and could suddenly picture cars, leaking oil and mechanics with dirty hands. Luckily none of those car smells exist today.
Closer to the coffee/ice cream shop, I peeked through a window and saw some old news clippings and postcards, attached to a Texaco sign. Maybe the space was once a waiting area for customers. I'll bet there was a glass coffee pot sitting on burner and some disposable paper coffee cups... with little handles. Starbucks never had cool cups with handles!
Muffuletta and Oregon Chips
Don and I ended up splitting a muffuletta, with a bag of Oregon chips. It was just the right amount. It was such a quick and tasty stop. I wish we could have lingered.
We headed to our car parked out front on Adams Avenue... which I believe was once the Old Oregon Trail. Then I noticed a cozy looking, old hotel called, The Landing. Hmm? Another hotel to try in the future. Someday we can stay right on the Oregon Trail, in a cute hotel and spend more time at The Local, sampling ice cream and coffee!
Pot of Gold or Port of Gold?
While traveling in Oregon last summer, I searched the internet for a good lunch stop. I spotted a cafe, at POT of Gold Beach! Hey, fun! Let's go!
Oops! I read too fast. It was PORT of Gold Beach. But that sounded fun, too. I liked the name of the cafe as well. The Port Hole Cafe (Not Pot Hole Cafe) sounded like a fun seafood place!
The Cannery and Fish Market
We followed GPS to the small town of Gold Beach. The port was just south of the Rogue River Bridge. We parked and headed over to the Cannery complex.
I had hoped to find an old wooden structure, with lots of fishermen stopping in for lunch. What we found was a a little more spiffed up. The original cannery from the 1960's had been replaced.
Fish Market, Processing Plant..
We still got to see a little activity as we walked down to the cafe. We passed the Fish Market and I got to peek in and watch a guy in a slick yellow apron, go to work on a big fish!
I'm sure things were very different in the 1960's, when ocean troll salmon fishing was at its peak. Economic and environmental issues forced change.
Port Hole Cafe
We found the cafe entrance near a serious little fisherman statue. I wish there had been a real fisherman around, so I could hear some stories.
This space opened in 1998, as a retail facility with restaurant and commercial fish processing facilities. I was hoping for an authentic seafood joint, where fishermen dined, decades ago. But we could tell the place was popular as we followed others in. That was a good sign.
At noon and cafe was hopping. We had to wait for a table, so I had some time to look around and absorb the atmosphere.
Seafood joint with knotty pine and fishing decor. Dining guests with overalls and camo hats. It all fit. And how about that Tsunami Hazard Zone sign, above the door. Decoration or real?
I wondered about our fellow diners. I didn't spot any obvious travelers like us.
Mostly the folks appeared to be locals. The Gold Beach community is only a couple thousand people, so it's not surprising that many seemed to know each other.
Where to Sit?
I wasn't in the mood to beg for a great table. But I hoped for one with a view of the harbor.
How about a table overlooking the Mighty Rogue River? I was impressed to realize this view was so very close to where the Rogue River meets the Pacific.
I was very curious about a few booths, with wooden divider walls. I've never seem that.
I watched a large family getting seated at two booths. The divider was lifted so they could dine together. Clever!
At the Bar?
We were invited to sit at the bar if we wanted to be seated faster.
We could have kept an eye on the kitchen if we'd taken at seat there.
Instead we went for a tall round table, with 2 stools. It wasn't perfect, but we were hungry.
I had been hoping to spot a port hole or two in our restaurant. We had a couple right next to our table. We could spy on our neighbors!
As we sat waiting for our menus, I took in the important messages on signs and shirts. Beside our table, I read a sign with a big red crab, "We serve CRABS... actually we'll serve anybody." Important to know.
That was some corny humor with the crab sign. Our server was pretty rushed and had no sense of humor. When I asked how old the cafe was, she didn't answer. She just spun around so I could see the back of her shirt that told me the date was 1984. That wasn't funny, but I noticed another server's shirt. "A quaint little Drinking Town with a Fishing Problem". Now that's sort of funny.
Views and Treasures
We didn't get one of the tables with a view of boats or seagulls or bridge. But we could look straight down at our table and see treasures!
We could study the sand dollar and pennies, sea glass and rope. I'm all for an interesting table top.
Our food actually came quickly and it hit the spot.
Don went for an Albacore grilled tuna melt, with coleslaw and pickle. Simple but delicious.
I couldn't resist coconut shrimp and French fries. They looked unimpressive with their skinny shape, but they were hot and crisp and tasty, with a spicy-sweet sauce.
Our quick little lunch at The Port, was hardly an adventure. But sometimes there's just a little something that makes it more memorable. I had a quick chat on the way out, with the owner. He said his mother originally owned the Port Hole Cafe, when it was located in an old house, 25 years ago.
As we talked, I noticed a photo in a crafty frame behind him. "Is that Ernest Borgnine?" Yep, that was his mom with Ernest. He used to come to Port Hole, on visits to the area. I read on the internet that he died at age 92 in 2012. He used to drive his motorhome up to the Rogue River to watch the salmon. I don't know why it pleased me to picture this old actor enjoying some shrimp or salmon at the Port Hole.
Before climbing back in the car, I had Don do a quick pose with this fine fisherman. Don was nice to go along with my photo request.
A dining adventure is always more memorable if there's a photo op with a statue. Good way to end!
Curious Coos Bay Adventure
Last July, Don and I had an unusual adventure with unusual food.
This is the sign from where we purchased our food. Important to note that Coos Bay Oysters takes top billing. Chuck's Seafood is the name of the place.
How We Heard
We heard about Chuck's from Rik, our host at Itty Bitty Inn. After checking us in at the little motel in North Bend, we chatted with Rik for about 45 minutes. He was a hoot of a host! Then suddenly he seemed to be rushing us on our way. He handed us a cutting board and knife and told us we needed to get to the port in Coos Bay!
He told us that the fresh catch came in on Friday, so today was the perfect day. "The fish has been smoked and cured... you MUST get octopus jerky and oysters sticks... grab a bottle of wine and take it all to the beach!"
We did as we were told. We drove about 10 minutes to Chuck's Market. Actually it took longer, because we had to pick up a cheap cooler and ice.
Once we arrived, we headed towards the door, near the sign saying Oyster Farm! Yes, Chuck's has their very own oyster farm in Coos Bay!
I spotted 2 folding chairs and realized, we could actually have a dine-in experience, if we wanted.
But Rik had gotten us pretty excited about the fish on the beach idea.
Cans and Cans
We peeked around a little, before heading to the counter.
There were lots of canned options. Salmon, tuna, crab, oysters. All freshly prepared, hand packed and processed.
I spotted a few awards on the wall. It looked like Chuck's had been around a long time.
Since 1953! I love a place or business, that's older than me! Not by much.
In the Case
Don and I looked through the glass, trying to figure it all out.
The tuna and salmon looked a little more familiar. Chinook Salmon! We knew we were in the Northwest. We got some smoked tuna and a little Chinook Salmon.
We asked the young woman behind the counter, about her favorites.
She smiled and pointed to the Smoked Tuna Teriyaki.
Back at the Inn, Rik was very enthused about oyster sticks. I had pictured some kind of lollypop-oyster, on a stick! Luckily I didn't see anything like that.
We made sure to get some oyster sticks along with smoked salmon sticks and jalapeño salmon sticks. We were sort of acting like kids in a candy store. Which is odd for me, because I'm not the biggest seafood fan. And these foods were sort of scary.
Rik insisted we sample all the goodies that the locals go for. He said we might have to ask, since it's not always spotlighted in the case.
The octopus jerky was nearly hidden, on an upper shelf. Our enthused helper behind the counter, pulled it out for us.
Earlier at the Itty Bitty, Rik told us how he loved salmon fins! I was skeptical. What does it look like? A fin?
He assured me it was wonderful stuff. He showed us some leftover fins in the back of his truck. (I guess he'd had a beach feast) He said that local families know about these great treats. "The markets practically throw them away, but locals love them."
To the Beach
We bought our fish and a loaf of garlic bread and headed for the nearest beach that we could spot on the map.
We were surprised to find a picnic table in the sand, just waiting for us. I propped my camera on a rock and captured a photo memory!
I am not really the biggest fan of fish. But I do love a "When in Rome" experience.
So, When in Coos Bay, go to the beach and nibble on some fish fins and jerky!
Here's Don, getting ready for a bite of smoked salmon stick... I believe.
I'm sampling a salmon fin in this fine photo. It looks like a pretend to eat pose. But I really did give it my all. It was okay.
Two Days Later
Since we had a cooler and a fridge in our hotel, we were able to take some of our fish to Sacramento.
We stayed a couple nights with our son and our daughter-in-law. I'm not sure how impressed they were with our food contribution. It's kind of like sharing a "you had to have been there" experience... with some leftover fish.
As you can see, Scott looks a little worried about biting into this fin.
But he is always game for a food adventure! I should have taken another photo, after his bite!
Cheers to fish on the beach! Big thank you to our guide, Rik!
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!
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.