Salem Weekly celebrates the edible, the sweet and savory, the nosh-able and gulp-able.
Food is essential to life, and is one of the greatest pleasures human beings enjoy.
But the Harvard School of Public Health and thousands of nutritionists in the United States say that healthful food, in particular, extends this primal joy from a single moment of gratification to the longer-term satisfactions of a stronger body and a more vital life.
Salem Weekly believes the people of our city can have it all; delicious eats that also fortify.
And we can find it at our local restaurants.
A meal “out” no longer means devouring high-salt food cooked in artificial fats, enhanced with chemicals and cancer-causing preservatives.
Here in Salem, new businesses reflecting new values have opened and are thriving.
We’re including a few suggestions for healthful eateries in this issue, and we’ll do it again.
Food is a necessity for life, but the local purveyors listed here are providing the community with more than that; they are bringing healthful, minimally processed and scrumptious fare to their tables.
LifeSource Natural Foods
2649 Commercial St. SE
One of the most exciting venues for fresh, inspired, healthful and tasty food isn’t a restaurant at all – it’s the “Deli” at LifeSource Natural Foods.
An entrée bar filled with offerings like Red Dragon Curry, Fajita Vegetables and Coconut Ginger Quinoa compliments a sizable salad bar overflowing with crisp and seasonal delights. All foods are handmade, including pizza and a number of dairy-free and wheat-free options.
LifeSource also offers a “Grab ‘n Go” case full of all-natural salads, sandwiches and desserts.
Menu selections change daily and the food is hand made daily, with “the same eye towards customer care and satisfaction” the store is famous for, LifeSource says – and numerous Salemites agree.
All food can be taken home or enjoyed in the light-filled indoor eating area.
M-Sat Open 8am-9pm Sun 9am-8pm.
Goudy Commons’ Café Bon Appétit Willamette University Campus
900 State St.
Goudy Commons is closer to downtown than numerous eateries, and yet many are unaware that the fresh, seasonal, beautiful and nutritious cuisine offered to Willamette University students is available to all.
Open seven days a week, with a “scratch cooking” menu that changes daily, Goudy Commons features a deli, a taqueria, a traditional grill, carving stations and more. On any given night a diner might select seared beef or Portobello mushroom fajitas, tofu sweet potato hash or a fresh-made pizza of smoked Gouda apple chicken sausage.
The café places a high priority on minimally processed and vibrantly nutritious foods presented in a social responsible way. Gluten-free foods are available, vegetarian food is available and all seafood meets the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guidelines for sustainable fish species.
The dining room is strikingly beautiful. It’s an appropriate setting for Salem’s hidden culinary jewel.
Prices are incredibly reasonable. A resent menu featured a citrus-tarragon seared steelhead for $4.25 M-F 8am-10pm 11am-2pm.
Venti’s Café + Basement6 Bar
325 Court Street &
Venti’s Café + Tap House
2840 Commercial St. SE
Venti’s calls itself “Salem’s Craft Beer Destination” – and with its rotating, varied, stunning selection of carefully chosen offerings, this claim is impossible to contest.
But more than that, Venti’s brought high-quality unexpected, innovative restaurant food to Salem – first at the downtown location nearly twenty years ago, and more recently at the one on South Commercial.
A multi-cultural festival of American, Asian, Indian, Middle-Eastern cuisines, Venti’s offers hamburgers, Moroccan chicken and beer-battered salmon in addition to numerous delicious vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
Local farms produce much of the fresh fruits, organic vegetables and tasty herbs Venti’s uses. Its fish is wild-caught and its tofu is non-GMO.
The variety and excellence Venti’s offers, its commitment to eliminating chemicals, additives, preservatives and hormones makes it a Salem Weekly staff favorite. Try the seasonal veggie lunch for $6.75 or the Cajun-spiced fish plate for $14. Court St. M-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun. 11am-8pm. Taphouse Sun-Thru. 11am-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-12:30pm.
180 High St. SE
Located on Salem’s “restaurant row” on High Street south of State, Andaluz serves a wonderful variety of Spanish tapas – small plates of tasty, healthful morsels- and offers a changing menu of traditional recipes with a local twist, including a number of vegetarian options. Andaluz has a full bar featuring house made sangria, specialty cocktails, and Spanish and local wine. A recent menu featured blue mussels from Puget Sound in a sherry vinegar sauce, sautéed mushrooms with garlic, a salad of cucumber, radish, carrot and fennel, Brussels sprouts cooked in butter, white wine, garlic and chile, and a butterbean, spinach stew with saffron – all delicious, healthful choices. Prices run from 2.00 for a plate of bread and olive oil to twelve dollars for a dozen mussels. Wednesday is paella night, and they often do a vegetarian version as well as the traditional chicken, chorizo, and seafood. Hours are 4:30 – 9 pm, Tues, Wed and Thurs til 10 pm on Friday and Saturday. Beginning this week, they are open for lunch as well.
479 Court St. NE
At Rafn’s, a long rustic farmhouse table runs down the middle of the restaurant and there one can enjoy a delectably healthful lunch in the company of friends and friendly strangers.
Rafn’s menu focuses on locally-grown meats and vegetables and recently included such healthful items as a free range turkey breast sandwich, a soup of roasted root vegetables, a vegetarian sandwich of apple wood smoked cheddar, white bean hummus, roasted red peppers, and dill pickle, and two entrée salads – one including cheese and meat, the other with cranberries, walnuts and goat cheese.
For dessert, you can choose a gluten-free hazelnut cake or a goat cheese cheesecake topped with Marion berry preserve. Everything is fresh and local. Prices range from $4.00 for a cup of soup to $12.50 for a sandwich and a side. Hours are Tuesday -Friday 11am to 6pm and Saturday 12pm to 5pm. Once a month they serve a prix fixe dinner by reservation only. This month’s dinner is March 22, costs $35, and is gluten free.
Happy Curry Foods
295 Church St. SE
Happy Curry is a Nepalese restaurant that provides many healthful lunch choices in a cafeteria-style setting. Much of their food is vegan and gluten free, and the menu, which goes on for four pages, is conveniently marked for those seeking such options. Choose a samosa – a pastry with a savory filling – potato, raisins, and cranberries or rice, lentils, cabbage and spinach. Or put together your own “kahna” plate with brown rice or quinoa, and your choice of vegetables, protein (such as red curry chicken or tofu), curry sauce, and chutney.
There are a number of “wraps” – a kati roll, a moong roti fold – all with your choice of fillings. You can accompany your meal with a mango lassi, a cool slightly sweet fruit drink made with house-made yogurt. Prices are incredibly reasonable; the most expensive thing on the menu Is the Chicken Kana for $7.49. Happy Curry Foods is open M-Sat from 11 am – 5 pm.
372 State Street
Wild Pear specializes in local and Northwest cuisine and offers a plethora of healthful choices for lunch or an early dinner. Their signature pizzas are available with a gluten-free crust, for those seeking such an option, and a number of vegetarian items are offered. Start off your meal with the house-made hummus plate served with cucumber, tomato, mixed olives and pita bread. Then you might order the Asian Chicken Wrap – chicken breast, red pepper, cabbage slaw, mixed greens in a tomato tortilla- or the kale, and pesto pizza with mushrooms, artichoke hearts and tomatoes. Another healthy choice, for omnivores, is their Vietnamese Pho Beef Noodle Soup – marvelously flavored with fresh basil and cilantro. Wild Pear has a full bar and is open Monday through Saturday from 10-30 am to 6 pm. Prices range from 3.99 for a cup of soup to 14.00 for their Shepherd’s Pie, made with local grass-fed beef. At happy hour (3:30 to 6) they serve a number of appetizers, including their sweet potato fries, at a special price.
315 High St. SE
Gamberetti’s is a family-owned casual Italian restaurant that offers menus drawn from local food producers as much as possible. Executive Chef Karen Moran likes the quality, freshness and uniqueness of local food. Every week she reviews purveyors’ sheets that list local options. In season, she shops at the Wednesday Farmers Market and “likes to pick something out and make it into a special that night.”
Gamberetti’s (Italian for “little shrimp”) has an extensive seafood menu and they source seafood from the Pacific Northwest when they can as well as produce from local farms. They even offer olive oil grown and processed in Oregon at Red RidgeFarms winery. (However Gamberetti’s wine list is heavily Italian.). Moran said that as a small company themselves, Gamberetti’s tries to help small companies and farmers. For health-conscious customers, they try to balance pasta dishesand with salads and other light choices. Prices range from 3.95 for the house-made soup to $18.95 for the Ravioli Fra Diavolo or Cioppino. Open seven days for lunch and dinner.
Marco Polo Global Restaurant
300 Liberty St. SE
Marco Polo traveled from Europe to Asia; however, Cathay and Jackie Cheung, owners of Marco Polo Global Restaurant, moved from Hong Kong to Salem 20 years ago. Jackie went to school and Cathay went to work. A few years later they opened Marco Polo Global Restaurant which offers extensive vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menus in addition to meat and fish. A vegetarian herself, Jackie Cheung understands the frustration of going to a restaurant with very limited vegetarian choices and running the risk that meat-based ingredients might be included. For gluten-sensitive customers, illness can result from any inadvertent use of gluten. So the Cheungs take great care that the food served meets their customers’ dietary requirements, even using differently shaped plates for vegetarian and gluten-free items.
Jackie Cheung said that Chinese people like fresh food and she and her husband make sure that the food at Marco Polo is fresh and that cooking oils are clean. Marco Polo lives up to the Global Restaurant part of its name, serving both European and Asian style food. The Cheungs want Marco Polo to be a place where a group of people can go to find something appealing and well-prepared for everyone. To make this happen, they employ chefs trained in European cooking, Asian cooking, and specializing in vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free cooking. The care extends to the teas that Jackie Cheung blends herself and sells by the package as well as with meals. Prices range from $2.95 for a cup of soup to $19.95 for Pan-seaved halibut. Open seven days for lunch and dinner
The Drunken Cook
1555 12th St SE
Eating at The Drunken Cook like eating in your Nonna’s kitchen–a room full of good smells, delicious food, and a big noisy family. Their prix fix menu ($14) gets you a choice of pasta and either minestrone soup (in the winter) or a mixed green salad (in the summer) and a glass of red or white wine. All is made with healthful, local ingredients. This week’s specials are Spaghetti alla Boscaiola- with cream sauce, porcini, portobello, crimini and oyster mushrooms, finished with fresh thyme; and Spaghetti alle Salcicce – a marinara sauce with sweet Italian sausage topped with parsley. If the specials don’t suit, they always have marinara, pesto, or butter and cheese; and on Wednesdays this month, you can get Osso Bucco, at least until it runs out, for $19. Friday is movie night, and in March they are showing (what else?) classic spaghetti westerns. Open Tues-Thurs 5pm – 8:30pm; Fri-Sat 5pm – 10:00pm. Mangia!
2755 Commercail St. SE
Last month Cafe Yumm! fulfilled the dream of Salemians who relished the creative, healthy food at franchises in Corvallis, Eugene, Portland, and elsewhere in Oregon.
Now Salem has its own Cafe Yumm! behind French Press in Candalaria Crossing.
The restaurant says: “Over 50% of the food we serve is certified organic, including: brown rice, red beans, black beans, tempeh, red salsa, free-range eggs, field greens, yogurt, tofu, peanut butter, and more.
Meat/fish eaters, vegetarians, and vegans all will find something to like on the menu. Dishes can be highly customized with ingredients added or subtracted (tofu instead of chicken, for example).
Yummi Bowls, Wraps, and Bentos are Cafe Yumm!s signature offerings. Its Yumm Sauce is notoriously addicting.
Whole wheat tortillas can be substituted for white tortillas, as in the Southwest Wrap: Southwest seasoned all natural chicken or grilled organic tofu, with Tillamook cheddar cheese, avocado, tomato, organic mild red salsa, and cilantro folded into a grilled tortilla. Burgers are served on whole wheat buns.
Cafe Yumm! has casual indoor seating for those who eat-in after ordering at the counter. Salem’s franchise is the only one with a drive-up window. Orders can be phoned in, then picked up there.
A small Yumm Bowl is $4.95, a large is $6.95 and a Wrap is $7.95. M-Sat 10am-8pm Sun. 11am-6pm.